The last yersey – the one dedicated to stage 20 of this Giro d’Italia – is awarded today. Not because we forgot our home stage, but because we wanted to wait until the very moment we are about to ride the same route on the Sportful Dolomiti Race tomorrow. And to thank everyone who made it possible.
Among all the distinctive features of cycling, the one that totally differentiates it from most other sports — and that causes cycling fans to proudly declare that following cycling is never just a matter of sport alone — is the complete overlap between bike races and the real world they pass through.
Bike races are not held in places dedicated exclusively to them. There is no separation between the playing field of cycling and the cities where men and women live, the fields they cultivate, the mountains that reinvigorate them. By choosing the locations of everyday life as its natural setting, cycling borrows their characteristics, so that the beauty of a church, the gracefulness of a landscape or the majesty of a mountain become an integral part of the race itself, the essence of its story and its history.
Of course, the intrusion of a race like the Giro d’Italia into the corners of everyday life is not without obstacles. Interrupting the intricate routine of our city life for a day — or for the central hours of a day — requires a series of adjustments both large and small. There would be no Giro without the Giro volunteers who dedicate a significant number of their spring hours to preparing for and managing the logistical demands of the Corsa Rosa. There would be no Giro without those who take care of the places that the Giro borrows for three weeks: traffic to be redirected, barriers to be installed, finish lines to be set up and taken down. And then the roads. Roads to be repaired or cleared — as in the case of Passo Gavia, covered with snow and with workers who for days tried to make it accessible. Roads, in other cases, to be rebuilt from scratch.
Because being inside the world, accepting its hospitality to the point of blending together, means sharing its suffering as well as its beauty. The world crossed by the 20th stage of the 2019 Giro is a world that shows clear signs of its recent distress: trees dropped on each other as in a giant game of pick-up sticks, thousands of logs stacked awaiting removal, forests perforated as if by a rain of bombs. The Giro passed through a part of Italy that wind and water threatened to completely obliterate just seven months ago
The Giro, to be honest, could not even have come near the area of Passo Manghen if not for the work of those who, in record time, were able to repair the 2 kilometers of road destroyed by the deluge last fall. But the Giro, thanks to those who support it and those who love it, succeeded. It saw its climax on roads that were no longer there but that are there again, among trees that will grow back and forests that will thicken, bringing participation and hope in the best way it knows how, which it has done for 102 editions: by celebrating the places it passes through.