Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian
“L’Eroica”, the cycling event signed Gaiole in Chianti, doesn’t need to be presented or promoted, as you can tell by the thousands of applications received every year for the event and its international relevance.
The founding father of the race, Giancarlo Brocci, learned how to read and write on his own because his family was too Communist to let him attend nursery schools run by nuns.
Giancarlo would hang out at the local bar to translate the newspapers for the elderly, who were usually illiterate. The epic challenges of the “duel of the century” between Bartali and Coppi and the soccer pages regarding the Fiorentina soccer team were the most interesting topics on the pages of the Nazione and the Mattino di Firenze.
In this framework of a Chianti still populated by sharecroppers, Giancarlo, involved in politics and the environment, grew up and, in the beginning of the 1990s, came up with the idea of a cycling park in Chianti as a prospect for a territorial promotion tied to the preservation of important places and the salvation of white roads, patrimony of the Chianti region.
In 1995, Giancarlo promoted his first project, the “Gran Fondo Gino Bartali”, in honor of the Florentine cyclist, still popoular today, who represented the capacity of resistance when facing the younger Coppi.
The race tripled its entries in three years, a sign of growing interest: the demand for a cycling event of experiential and emotional nature which finds its appeal in the characteristics of its trajectory, in the landscape that frames it and in the territory where it is held.
The “Eroica” is thus born in 1997, when the subscribers of the “Gino Bartali” race are given the opportunity to participate in a race that, even more than competitive tension and sprint capacity, reguires vintage clothing and bicycles as witness, and which offers the pleasure of form and the possibility of enjoying the local wine and food culture. T
he Eroica is a competition that allows a full immersion in the colors, odors and flavors of Chianti, respecting the highest values of the sport: it is important to participate and possibly cross the finish line, without worrying about your arrival position.
The growth of interest and participation in the race will be exponential: especially when, in 2001, with the collaboration of the Tourist Promotion Agency of the Province of Siena, the itinerary and signposting of the race become permanent. They cover the Chianti territory with its 208 kilometers, from Gaiole to Montalcino and back.
In 2004, the synergy begins, with one of the greatest historic brands of the sector, the Brooks bicycle seat (originally the Royal from Vicenza). The race is launched on the international scene. “L’Eroica, in these years, chose rare humanity”, comments Giancarlo, looking on the human side, proudly talking about the involvement of a medium-high cultural target among the entries: in particularly, youngsters, women and Anglo-Saxons, “all categories which are not usually connected to the world of cycling”.
The extraordinary success of the Eroica is proven by many indicators: the numbers regarding its unstoppable growth and its internationality: the interest generated in the territory, not only during the days of competition; the many sports events and collateral initiiatives that have been developed from it over the years.
But, most of all, Giancarlo’s idea was proven to be a winner because it represents a promotional ace for the Chianti territory, which is able to evoke and bring to life its most authentic and disinctive characteristics: the poetry of the landscape, the quality of its food and wine, the genuineness and passion of its people.