Wheels, Meals and Everything in Between

One of the best things I enjoy about cycling is all the good food you must eat in order to ride such long distances. I’m not talking about just any food, but healthy, tasty food the types loaded with proteins and good carbohydrates. Although my friends and I usually do smaller rides (80-100km) compared to professional riders, one must still fuel up properly. Such a ride can last over three hours and burn approximately 500-600 calories per hour, so you have to eat a lot!
This past May I had the great opportunity to combine my passions for food and cycling by photographing the 94th running of the Giro D’Italia. Simply known as The Giro, it is a long distance road bike stage race for professional cyclists held over three weeks in May, in and around Italy. It is considered the harder of the Grand Tours, the others being the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. These three races make up the Triple Crown of pro cycling. This year’s race was a total of 3474 kilometres through the usual 21 stages. It was a bit special this year because it helped celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy as a country. Each stage passed through a significant point in Italian history and was symbolically recalling the path to a united Italy.

Unfortunately, the race will also be remembered for a not so celebratory incident, the death of the Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt. He crashed heavily during Stage 3 on the descent of the main climb, Passo del Bocco. His team withdrew from the race, and the organizers decided to permanently retire his number 108 in honour of him. At every stage there was some type of tribute to the fallen rider, be it his number or initials.

A great aspect of watching the race live is how close you can get to it, literally roadside! Below you can see some fans awaiting the arrival of the race during Stage 17. The riders are just finishing a 15km uphill Category 3 climb. (Category 3 climbs last approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), have an average grade of 5 percent, and ascend 150 meters (500 feet).

Val Camonica one of the largest valleys of the central Alps

Tifosi

2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 17 Feltre – Tirano 230km

2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 17 Feltre – Tirano 230km

Team cars and support vechiles

Riders going towards the ski town of Aprica 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 17 Feltre – Tirano 230km

One of the back-marker riders. I think he looks scared?!

I had the chance to ride the descent after the race, and believe me it was steep. This area is full of great ski resorts and on the way down I was hitting speeds over 60km/h without even pedalling! With so many technical turns and beautiful scenery, it was hard to keep my eyes on the road. The snow was also a little distracting, and made for some cold drafts. I could have used some newspapers stuffed under my jersey; an old school insulating tip.

 

Grilled swordfish after a day of riding

Homemade Limoncello Cream Liqueur

One of the historic stages was the finish arrival of Stage 18 at San Pellegrino Terme, the Art Nouveau resort in the Brembana Valley. Best known for its waters and thermal springs, this town is also where legendary Grand Italian Champion Fausto Coppi won the Trento – San Pellegrino stage in 1955.

San Pellegrino factory

Carb loading; Penne with garden fresh eggplant and tomatoes and San Pellegrino water of course!

Fans awaiting the arrival at San Pellegrino

Cycling definitely keeps you young. Coppi bike; the name is almost holy in this town!

Police motorcycle and route map 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 18 Morbegno – San Pellegrino 151km

Television helicopters

Oscar Gatto Team Farnese Vini at finish line 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 18 Morbegno – San Pellegrino 151km

Paolo Tiralongo Team Astana 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 18 Morbegno – San Pellegrino 151km

Alessandro Spezialetti 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 18 Morbegno – San Pellegrino 151km

Olivier Kaisen Team Omega Pharma Lotto 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 18 Morbegno – San Pellegrino 151km

Betancur Gomez Carlos Alberto 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 18 Morbegno – San Pellegrino 151km

Roman Kreuziger winning White Jersey (best young rider) 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 18 Morbegno – San Pellegrino

Caravan crew

Artisan beer made with San Pellegrino water, pink in honour of the Giro

Shrimp cocktail with caviar

The city of Bergamo was the starting point for Stage 19 ending in Macugnaga 209km away. This area has produced many pink jerseys and winners in the past and was chosen as part of the 150th Unity celebration to remember the Bergamask people’s contribution to Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Expedition of the Thousand. Being at the start of a stage gives you a great view of how the riders prepare themselves for the long ride ahead of them. Mechanics are making final adjustments and tuning the equipment, team managers are giving interviews with the press and discussing strategies, while fans have the chance to meet their heroes up close.

Team Saxo Bank Mechanic – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Alberto Contador’s bike – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Camera crew

Filippo Savini (foreground) Simone Stortoni (background) of Colnago-CSF Inox Team

Juan Horrach Rippoll and mechanic – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Alberto Losada Alguacil – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

2007 Giro winner Danilo DiLuca – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

One of my intentions for this story was to photograph fellow Torontonian Michael Barry for some Canadian press. Barry rides for Team Sky and has ridden in the past with US Postal during the 2004 season whilst riding in support of Lance Armstrong. He is usually the team leader for Canada in the World Championships, where his strengths lie in the time-trial, and hilly road races. I met up with him as he was preparing to leave for the Bergamo to Macugnaga stage which was 209km.

Michael Barry – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 – Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Bike of Michael Barry – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 – Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Michael Barry – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 – Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Team Sky bikes

Peter Kennaugh of Team Sky – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 – Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Pasta has always been a go-to fuel for athletes, especially cyclists. It’s low in fat and delivers quick energy in the form of easy-to-digest carbohydrates. It’s also best for refilling your tank postride and repairing sore muscles. So it’s no wonder that Delverde pasta is an official sponsor of one of the biggest Italian teams, the Liquigas-Cannondale cycling team.

Rotini con panna

Spinach gnocchi with speck and panna

Pallotte cacio e uova – Cheese and egg balls cooked in tomato and capsicum chili sauce

Arrosticini di castrato e agnello (Goat and lamb meat skewers)

Panna cotta con salsa ai frutti di bosco

The starting line at Bergamo

Roman Kreuziger 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo – Macugnaga 209km

Stefano Garzelli (left) Green Jersey Team ACQUA & SAPONE and Roman Kreuziger (right) White Jersey Team ASTANA 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Alberto Contador 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

Alberto Contador and Stefano Garzelli 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga

Pietro Santini (maker of the Pink Jersey) and Alberto Contador – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

The pack waiting to pounce 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 19 Bergamo to Macugnaga 209km

And they’re off!

The Giro’s Final Stage 21 at The Duomo in Milan

The 2011 Giro d’Italia was called by some the hardest in years. Going into the final stage in Milan, 159 riders were lining up for the final act from a start list of 207. Finishing three weeks of racing in front of Milan’s Duomo marked the end of a beautiful, tragic, controversial Giro. Even the overall winner of the race, Alberto Contador, said it had been some of the hardest day’s of his racing career. With this Giro victory, Contador could become the first rider to take the Tours of Italy and France in the same year since the late Marco Pantani in 1998.

Dario David Cioni Team Sky – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Michael Barry – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Michael Barry – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

José Ochoa Carlos – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

José Ochoa Carlos – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Pieter Weening – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Alberto Contador – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Alberto Contador – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

David Millar of Team Garmin-Cervélo won the 21st and final stage covering the distance of 26 kilometres in 30 minutes and 13 seconds.

David Millar Team Garmin-Cervélo 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Overall race winner for the second time in his career, Alberto Contador Velasco

Alberto Contador – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Alberto Contador – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Alberto Contador Winner 2011 Giro D’Italia

Alberto Contador’s bike – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Alberto Contador’s bike – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

Alberto Contador’s bike – 2011 Giro D’Italia Stage 21 Milano Time Trial 26km

That’s a wrap!

A very special thank you to all those that made this possible; family, friends and the chefs, you know who you are!

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41 thoughts on “Wheels, Meals and Everything in Between

  1. Signoro Cicero,

    Living your dreams!! Just awesome! Nothing else need be said.

    Paul Gosio

  2. Great shots Tony! The food pix look so darn tasty. Only critique….not enough of the beautiful Italian ladies but maybe that’s just me LOL

  3. Great shots! Professionally done. Amazing pic’s of the riders and their bikes.

  4. Amazing stuff Tony! Great story and you’ve got a great eye for composition in your photos. The food is mouth watering.

  5. Awesome story Cicce!!! keep up the great work. The food looked amazing! im hungry now!

  6. Crisp, beautiful (and sometimes delicious) pictures, Tony.
    I am a huge cycling fan and my brother rides at the semi-pro level.
    Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  7. Well done, bro!. Nice pictures and charming texts. A perfect invitation to discover this experience.

    Next year you MUST cover la vuelta ciclista a España. We also have beautiful landscapes and delicious colourful meals here. Just let me know when you arrive!.

  8. That was an inspiring article. Consider creating a vacation tour package for those that want to share this experience. You could sell it!

  9. BELLE FOTO , BRAVO TRONY.
    (i piatti a base di pesce hanno il copyright).

  10. Stunning photography! There are so many great shots, but I think my favourite cyclist shot is Contador in the final stretch there with his tongue out. At least if I can’t go myself I can vicariously experience it through you. Well documented!!

  11. Well done, buuuuddy ! Great shots.
    As a side note….Is it just me or did most of those cyclists resemble Tony Cicero ?

  12. Great Twist. Nice shots and editorial. Congrats. Must have been a great trip.

  13. Wow! Amazing shots! what a trip, excellent editorial too! Really cool to have insights on what went on and the background of the race.

  14. The story and photos are fantastic. It made me want to go to Italy – right now!

  15. Nice work brother.
    Wonderful pics and info…..great, I now feel lazy AND hungry.
    Thanks fella!

  16. Talk about a busman’s holiday – rather a bike-man’s holiday! Great shots TC and good story.

  17. What a great editorial.
    Congratulations Tony – the photos are wonderful!

  18. awesome Tony – making me both hungry and wishing I could go for a bike ride 🙂 Photos were awesome, bright and interesting!

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