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Exclusive: A taste of the Gran Corsa d’Italia

| Blog, Cycling Plus, Features, News | 08/12/2010 14:08pm

Monday December 13, sees the official launch of the Gran Corsa d’Italia –  a chance for 200 amateur riders to ride the route of next year’s Giro d’Italia and raise money for The Prostate Cancer Charity. In an exclusive sneak preview Laura Fletcher caught up with Rapha Condor Sharp team manager John Herety while team rider Kristian House tried out the climb up Mount Etna.

The Giro D’Italia is one of the world’s most iconic stage races, and with the recent announcement of the route, is also looking to be one of the toughest years yet.  The course takes in the classic climbs of Zoncolan and Rifugio Gardeccia, whilst also stretching itself down to the southern tips of Sicily.

This year, electronics giant Sharp and The Prostate Cancer Charity has opened up the route, for a chance for  mortal amateurs to ride the course as well.  Commencing as the Giro finishes, The Gran Corsa D’Italia will follow the entirety of the 2011 Giro Course, over three weeks.  All proceeds being donated to fight against the most common cancer in men in the UK.

Earlier this month, Rapha Condor Sharp rider Kristian House went to Sicily, to ride the Mt. Etna stage of the Giro – stage 9.  The course involved climbing the active volcano from its northern and southern side, with a descent to sea level, taking in the Ionian Sea, with the snowy, smoking Sicilian spewer in the background.

©Sharp/Camille McMillan

We had the chance to talk to Rapha Condor Sharp team Manager John Herety during the recce, and hear his thoughts on the unique nature of this stage.

Tell us about this stage.

John Herety: “The stage in Sicily, which encompasses Mt Etna will be one of the iconic stages of next years’ Giro. This is a unique opportunity to do a route less travelled.  Unlike many of the iconic Alpine or Pyrenean climbs this is less available as an arranged tour. Mt. Etna is a climb to be respected but not feared.”

©Sharp/Camille McMillan

How will the Sicilian setting affect the overall day?

“The island setting creates a very different atmosphere for the stage.  Climbing from sea level, you see a real change, yet have a constant visual reference, being able to see the coast for most of the ascent.  In two hours it goes from 20c to 0.  The island wind will also be both advantageous and challenging, as coastal breezes can be quite strong.

What about the Giro, makes it stand out compared to other Grand Tours?

“The Italian public are the the most knowledgeable about cycling.   They have a passion for it that you can only liken to the British passion for  football.”

What opportunities will the Gran Corsa D’Italia entrants have, not only on this stage, but overall?

“Whilst the riding elements of the stage are one thing, with the riders replicating what the pros will be doing, the transfer element of the Gran Corsa are inherent to the nature of pro cycling.  At the end of the stage, riders will go to hotel for the evening, with the large transfers in the morning. If you really want to experience what a pro goes through, this is the most accurate. The overall event, although incredibly challenging at times, will also prove to be an incredible opportunity to experience the reality, the highs and lows, and also the camaraderie, and teamwork, so essential to pro cycling.”

©Sharp/Camille McMillan

Can you tell us about the Rapha Condor Sharp team involvement with the project?

“This event is a continuation of the team’s commitment to The Prostate Cancer Charity, for a 3rd year.  We’ve enjoyed relationship with them, and are pleased to take it another step forward, with this next adventure.  We will be sending three riders down, each for a week.”

“For the team, its an ideal opportunity for our riders to re-train during the season, use it as a solid block of riding, and is good training for stage races such as the Tour of Britain. It will be challenging for them as well.  Some of the riders have ridden for Italian teams in the past, and we hope to utilise their expertise on the terrain.”

©Sharp/Camille McMillan

For more information on the Gran Corsa d’Italia and to sign up click here or visit its Facebook page

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