Wheelers Travel to Florence for World Championships

Post date: Oct 06, 2013 8:52:47 PM

(By Shay O’Toole)

On Friday, September, 27th September, a small group from Lakeside Wheelers headed off to Florence for the 2013 World Cycling Championships. En route they stayed overnight in Bologna before making their way by train to this very famous and cultural city on Saturday morning.

Arriving in Florence the weather was a very manageable 25 degrees and so the Wheelers hit the town to catch the ladies race which reached the city centre circuit in Florence in the early afternoon. With 5 laps of the hilly circuit ahead of them the peleton was very soon depleted and after some extremely intelligent riding the Rainbow jersey went to none other than Marienne Vos of Holland.

The next day, Sunday, the weather could not have been more different for the men’s race which commenced in the beautiful Tuscan town of Lucca and saw the men race over 100kms before they arrived on the banks of the river Arno to thousands of spectators who had been waiting in torrential rain to see the peloton race through some of Florence’s most spectacular landmarks such as Piazza Duomo and past Ponte Vecchio.

The Wheelers headed to the hilltop town of Fiesole on the outskirts of Florence intending to spend the day in the square sipping beers and cocktails and watching the best cyclists in the world but this was not to be. With rain of biblical proportions accompanied by thunder and lightening them, we were barely out of the taxis before our clothes were absolutely soaking to the point of saturation but thankfully it was not cold. Plan B was implemented and we slipped into the nearest bar where we settled and watched the first 5 laps of the tortuous circuit which included the 4.7km climb to Fiesole and then a punishing climb of 600m but with gradients hitting 19%.

Lakeside Wheelers in Florence, Charlie Sheridan, Jack Nugent, Steve Franzoni, Peter Rimmer & Joe Duffy

An executive decision was made to return to the live action regardless of the rain for the 2nd half of the race so out we went once again literally into the eye of the storm. Unfortunately for us at this stage all the Irish riders had abandoned due to crashes but the real race was just beginning as this war of attrition was heating up nicely for a grande finale. Surprisingly, considering the distance and the chaotic weather there was still a decent bunch heading into the last lap and more surprisingly was the speed these guys were riding at on the really slippery roads, even though at this stage the sun was out and the rain stopped. With the Italians all over the front looking for a famous home win the hopes of the Tifosi were dashed when their favourite, Nibali fell but he soon remounted to make a break for glory. However, the Spanish had different ideas with Rodríguez and Valverde very prominent. In the end they too were outsmarted by the Porteguese rider Rui Costa who out-sprinted the distraught Rodríguez to claim one of the most coveted prizes in cycling.

The travelling Wheelers were Charlie and Trish Sheridan, Shay and Cathy O´Toole, Jack and Libby Nugent and Joe Duffy. Also there were Pete Rimmer and Steve Franzoni who we met on the circuit and enjoyed a nice pasta dinner and a few Italian beers with on Saturday night.

Conditions on Sunday for the men's race resemble the Irish weather more that Italian.