Friday, January 24, 2020

Giancarlo Brocci's crazy dream?

Above: Heather and Larry at Luciano Berruti's Museo Bicicletta

The internet cycling world's chamois got all-in-a-bunch recently with news that Eroica founder Giancarlo Brocci was meeting the UCI president. Fears of the big, bad UCI taking over "gravel racing" in the USA, a fad currently being pushed heavily by the bicycle industry were expressed. Below is what I believe to be the source of this panic, an article from Tuttobiciweb by Giorgio Viberti, roughly translated and edited by Zio Lorenzo.

The prophet of another type of cycling is called Giancarlo Brocci, a 65 year-old from Gaiole in Chianti (Siena). He has a degree in medicine, is an ex-politician, writer, musician, footballer and cyclist. The son of peasants, he's had an adventurous life, even as a bohemian, worked in health and sport, sang with a band, became a journalist and traveled extensively. He would seem an ex-flowerchild, but thanks to an immense passion for cycling he's discovered himself to be a very skillful manager.

In July 1995 he created the Gran Fondo Gino Bartali, with start and finish in Gaiole, the center of his world. Two years later, a new brand, "L'Eroica" was created: vintage cycling on dirt roads for romantics wearing wool jerseys, using metal water bottles and riding bikes as heavy as gates. 
In a short time L'Eroica has become the new fashion of cycling enthusiasts in search of ancient emotions, hunched over old steel bicycles with gearshift levers on the frame, brake wires outside the handlebars, clip-and-strap pedals and low profile wheels with 32 spokes.

There are now a dozen Eroica events all over the world from Italy to Japan, from Germany to the USA, from England to South Africa and from Holland to Spain. The "visionary" Brocci hit the mark, yet he never stopped dreaming. Today he will meet David Lappartient, president of the UCI to offer him another way to race by bike.

"Cycling is now a planetary phenomenon - says Brocci - but it's in a technical crisis and the riders are hostages of trainers and directors, far from the people and they race just a few times a year. The exaggerated technology has flattened class and talent, embalming the races and making everything more predictable and boring.

Today a tour is won or lost perhaps by a dropped chain. Worse, people are not able to admire athletes who are so thin, almost undernourished, with a thousand medical exemptions for allergic or asthmatic syndromes. Even a phenomenon like Fausto Coppi, 180 cm tall and 75 kg could probably never win a Grand Tour today. It's time to change.

But how? By rediscovering heroic cycling, the sense of adventure, of the unexpected, the search for new paths, if possible on dirt roads with return to offer the real, healthy effort and the values of sport not ruined by hyper-technology and subterfuge."

In practice, however, what will Brocci propose to Lappartient? "Unknown roads, no longer the usual classic climbs that everyone knows. Moreover, the Giro, Tour and Vuelta need new routes. Perhaps longer distances over 300 km with departures at night on bikes without super-low climbing gears so as to really see who makes the difference uphill. Computers and radios are banned as are supplies from the car and banned are racers falling below 6% body fat, thus giving a message of health and joy.

However, it's difficult to disrupt the business of professional cycling...nobody wants to do that. I'm thinking of a parallel circuit, such as Formula E for F1 or Superbike for MOTOGP, reserved for a selection of Under 23 or young pros, after a check to assess their physical and moral qualities. You could race especially in winter in South Africa, Australia and Latin America, hosting racers in common structures in villages set up with food and medical checks for all. And it would be nice to identify "heroic municipalities" countries to be relaunched also thanks to cycling which protect nature and unpaved roads as Roubaix does with their pave. One day perhaps a Heroic World Championship?"

Intriguing and romantic, of course. But who puts up the money?

"Italy, home of cycling, no longer has a World Tour team, sponsors have left because the current type of cycling does not excite so many these days. Shall we try something different?"

Click HERE for another article on this subject.

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