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Wheelers Go Lakeside in Italian Connection

posted 22 Oct 2012, 07:40 by Kevin Monaghan
(By Shay O'Toole)   
At the beginning of this month a small group of Lakeside Wheelers travelled to northern Italy for the Giro di Lombardia, or, as it is more affectionately known, the Tour of the Falling Leaves. This classic is generally considered to be the last important race of the season for the Pro Tour peloton and is held on a series of extremely hilly and mountainous roads around the very scenic Lake Como region of Lombardy. The travelling party consisted of Robbie Kenny, Trish Kenny, Charlie Sheridan, Trish Sheridan, John Nugent, Libby Nugent, Shay O’Toole and Cathy O’Toole.

We were invited to this race as guests of the Velo Club Oggiono, a cycling club based near Lecco, on the shores of Lake Como. In 2011, we met some of the Italian club members at the Tour of Flanders in Belgium and following months of conversation via email and telephone we decided to take them up on their offer and flew to Bergamo on Friday, September 28th. The race started in this ancient walled city the next morning where we found ourselves in a somewhat surreal position as we mingled on the start line with the cream of world cycling. Race favourite and new world champion, Philippe Gilbert, Italian star, Ivan Basso, the controversial Alberto Contador and of course, Ireland’s Daniel Martin who took time out to take photographs with us, were all lined up to commence this gruelling 250km race.

After the start we made our way to Lecco to meet our hosts who took us to two fabulous locations to watch the race as it made its way in torrential rain, up some of the most torturous climbs we have ever seen. The first time we saw the riders was on a narrow woodland road called Muro di Sormano which reached gradients of 30% and averaged 15% over 1.7km resulting in the peloton passing us at snail’s pace and with several riders begging to be pushed. From here we were chauffeured in true Italian style across back roads to a small hillside village called Villa Vergano, where once again we watched the bunch, now well reduced in size due to the terrain and horrendous weather snaking upwards through narrow cobbled streets lined with hundreds of crazy Italian cycling fans. As this village was just 10km from the finish there was a mad dash to the nearest bar after the race had passed to catch the great Spanish rider, Joaquim Rodriguez win this epic race. 

That evening and over the next three days we were treated to some fantastic Italian hospitality by our hosts which we hope to be able to return when they pay us a visit in 2013.  

Shay O'toole, Robbie Kenny, Jack Nugent, Daniele Fumagalli, President of Velo Club Oggiono and Charlie Sheridan taking a break on the shores of Lake Como
Wheelers Lakeside - Shay O'toole, Robbie Kenny, Jack Nugent, Daniele Fumagalli, President of Velo Club Oggiono and Charlie Sheridan taking a break on the shores of Lake Como

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