The original L’Eroica is back for its 25th edition.
Here’s what awaits in this most beautiful part of Italy.
L’Eroica Gaiole takes place over the weekend of 1st and 2nd October 2022. A number of routes and challenges await.
We’ll delve into those shortly but first, it’s relevant to reflect on what makes this L’Eroica event stand out above the rest.
Where it all began
L’Eroica Gaiole, held in the province of Siena, is the event that created the institution that is L’Eroica. Back in 1997, all of 25 years ago, the first L’Eroica took place from Chianti.
The event was the brainchild of Italian Giancarlo Brocci, a man who revelled in cycling’s rich heritage. Brocci wanted to create an event that reflected cycling’s history, an event that celebrated the legends of the sport, like Campagnolo icons Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi.
To that end, Brocci instilled a set of rules and regulations that paid due respect to these heroes – and heroic equipment – of times gone by.
Riders were only permitted to ride on road bikes that had been built before 1987.
That meant predominantly steel bikes with gear levels nestled on the down tube. The majority of the bikes would feature legendary Campagnolo equipment like the Nuovo Record.
Modern-day clipless pedals were prohibited, too, to be replaced by old-school toe clips or straps, and wheels must be held together by at least 32 spokes.
When it came to clothing, as epitomised by images from all L’Eroica events, participants must wear vintage apparel.
That meant hello wool and goodbye Lycra!
That first event brought together, as Brocci termed them, “92 hunters of feelings and emotions.”
In 2022, L’Eroica is expecting more than 9,000 participants of whom around 4,000 come from abroad.
Ahead lies a choice of five routes including the ‘Long Route’. This stretches to 212.5km and racks up nearly 4,000m of climbing.
Around 145.5km takes place on the white, gravelly roads for which this area is famed. (The gravel roads of Siena, of course, saw UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar win the 2022 edition of Strade Bianche using modern-day Campagnolo gear including the electronic Super Record groupset.)
The remaining 67km unfolds on tarmac.
The average time is around 15 hours so this is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Then again, the pain’s softened slightly by the stunning backdrop of Siena and its rolling hills.
The brave entrants will also enjoy a torch-lit ride to Brolio Castle that dates back to the Middle Ages. Over the centuries, the castle’s suffered attack and destruction from numerous battles, from the Aragonese and Spanish assaults of the 15th century to the aerial bombings of World War II.
It’s been rebuilt and modified but still bears the hallmarks of years gone by.
In many ways it’s like L’Eroica itself – a contemporary, beautiful representation of history.
Next up is the 135km medium (medio) route, of which around 72km is on the white roads. The riders face over 2,200m elevation including the infamous Monte Sante Marie climb, which is 1.9km long with an average gradient of 7.7%.
It’ll be tough and take up to 12 hours for many, so riders are reminded of the food stops at Radi and Castelnuovo Berardenga!
The ‘Hundred Route’ passes through the Crete Senesi and measures 106km, racking up 1,793m of climbing.
There’s also the 81km ‘short’ route (1,612m climbing) and the ‘leisure’ ride, which covers 46km with climbing metres at 755.
Finally, for those not signed up to the 2022 L’Eroica Gaiole, there’s the ‘permanent route’ for riders to dream bigger and ride bigger at any time of the year.
The route is marked with permanent signs throughout its 209km distance, which strikes through the heart of the Terre di Siena, crossing the Chianti and completing the journey into the artistic essence of the legendary Tuscan countryside.
Campagnolo could not miss this fantastic event that celebrates heroic cycling, for this occasion you can buy a selection of our iconic collectibles that can usually only be purchased from our e-store.
See you in Gaiole!