Our sport has its classic races. Some are more than 100 years old – Liège-Bastogne-Liège was first run in 1892 – and they’ve developed legends and histories that go a long way to make the sport what it is today. Sometimes a new race comes along and the organisers struggle to make it work. They could do well to learn the lesson of the wonderful Montepaschi Eroica which takes place on Saturday.
The race has only been in existence since 2007 but it slots perfectly into the calendar. Taking place on the first Saturday of March, it uses the strade bianche, or white roads. These are dust tracks that cover much of the Italian region of Tuscany. Cycling in Italy is most popular in two regions, to the north of Milan in Lombardy and then in Tuscany, between Pisa and Florence/Firenza. Hosting a race in a hotbed of cycling is always going to help.
The Eroica also fits into a perfect slot on the calendar. Being in Tuscany it can offer mild weather in March but the offroad sections mean it’s a useful build up for the cobbled classics as well.
The hilly course also attracts riders wanting a work-out ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico and can suit strong all-round riders, it’s not just for the classics specialists. The race has been won in the past by Kolobnev, Cancellara and Lofkvist.
So there you have it, the ingredients for the perfect race: beautiful roads, supportive fans, a challenging course, suitable climate, a diverse field and the right slot on the calendar. Despite all the silliness of the Giro starting in Washington one day, RCS can get things right at home after all.