Davide Martinelli uses bike to deliver medicine in Italy

AP Photo
1 Comment

ROVATO, Italy — There are no fans lining the road. No teammates providing support. And there is no race to win.

Professional cyclist Davide Martinelli has achieved a moral victory, though, by using his bike to help deliver medicine to elderly residents and others in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The service is of great use in Lodetto, Martinelli’s hometown in the hard-hit Lombardy region of northern Italy. The village has neither a pharmacy nor a supermarket.

Martinelli makes a daily trip to Rovato, the next town over, to pick up supplies.

“I’ve got a bike and two legs in pretty good form, so riding 10 kilometers (6 miles) a day is no big deal,” Martinelli said in an interview this week. “I wanted to help the people who always support me during the season. It’s time to give back to them.”

Martinelli joined up with a Facebook group called “Lodetto Solidale” (Supporting Lodetto) where those in need can place their requests online, by phone or message.

Martinelli receives his orders each night and maps out a route for the following day.

“I go to the pharmacy and when I arrive outside I put on gloves and a mask,” he said. “If I go for three or four people, there’s less risk of contagion.”

With a population of 1,500, everyone in Lodetto knows who Martinelli is. Or rather, they know who Martinelli’s father is.

That’s because Giuseppe Martinelli is one of the most successful team directors in cycling, having guided the likes of Marco Pantani and Vincenzo Nibali to Tour de France victories and a handful of riders to Giro d’Italia wins.

The elder Martinelli said that what his son is doing now is “a step above a victory for one of my athletes, because it’s gratifying to him and to us because he’s part of our family.”

Davide Martinelli is also part of Giuseppe Martinelli’s Astana team – the squad that Lance Armstrong rode for in 2009 when he came out of retirement.

Still, Giuseppe Martinelli said he had nothing to do with his son’s initiative besides offering fatherly advice: “I just said, `Be careful. Be safe. Don’t touch anyone. Use a mask and gloves when you enter the pharmacy.”‘

At 26, Davide Martinelli likely still has his best racing years ahead of him. So far in his career, he has won only two stages in minor races – both in 2016. This initiative has brought him more recognition than anything else he’s done on his bike.

While professional athletes were at first allowed out to train during the nationwide lockdown in Italy, the government ordered them to remain home, too, after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021.

“But don’t think for an instant that there’s some sort of training strategy behind all of this,” Giuseppe Martinelli said of his son’s initiative. “Eight out of 10 times he goes out with normal running shoes and his mountain bike. … So we’re talking about 30-40 minutes twice a day and sometimes only once per day.”

That’s hardly even a warmup for pro cyclists, who often ride more than five hours per day.

“I won’t deny that having the chance to be out in the fresh air helps me relax,” Davide Martinelli said. “Sure, there’s a risk of contagion when I enter the pharmacy, but you can’t dwell on that. When you decide to do something you’ve got to do it without over-thinking it.”

Giro d’Italia to start on former railway line in Abruzzo

Getty Images
5 Comments

L’AQUILA, Italy — The 2023 edition of the Giro d’Italia will start with an individual time trial on a coastal cycle path that has been recreated from a former railway line in the region of Abruzzo.

At a ceremony in the Abruzzo capital of L’Aquila, race organizers announced that the Grand Tour will run from May 6-28 and begin with an 18.4-kilometer (11.4-mile) time trial on the Adriatic coast.

Almost the entire time trial will be on the spectacular Costa dei Trabocchi cycle path that hugs the coast line before a short climb to the finish in Ortona.

“I am excited at the idea of the Grande Partenza (Big Start) of the Giro in Abruzzo . It is a dream come true, especially with regard to the prologue on the Costa dei Trabocchi,” said Trek-Segafredo cyclist Dario Cataldo, who is from the region.

“I well remember that when the cycle path project was born and I saw the first tracks, I imagined the beauty of a Giro d’Italia passing along the route. It looked perfect.”

Stage 2 is a 204-kilometer (127-mile) leg from Teramo to San Salvo that is hilly in the first part but expected to end in a bunch sprint.

Stage 3 will also start in the Abruzzo region, in Vasto, but it will then head south and will be detailed when the full route is revealed on Oct. 17 in Milan.

The Giro will also return to the region for Stage 7, a daunting climb on the Gran Sasso d’Italia to Campo Imperatore. The high mountain stage, on May 12, will be the edition’s first finish above 2,000 meters.

Australian Jai Hindley won this year’s Giro.

Norway takes gold-medal lead at world road cycling titles

CYCLING-AUS-ROAD-WORLD
Getty Images
9 Comments

WOLLONGONG, Australia – Soren Waerenskjold repeated Norway’s gold medal success at the world road cycling championships a day after Tobias Foss finished first in the elite men’s time trial.

Waerenskjold won the men’s under-23 time trial on the second day of the championships with a dominant performance. He clocked 34 minutes, 13.40 seconds over the 28.8-kilometer course to beat Belgian Alec Segaert by 16.34 seconds.

British rider Leo Hayter, the younger brother of elite rider Ethan Hayter, was 24.16 seconds off the pace for the bronze medal.

Foss beat a strong field to win the elite time trial, the biggest win of his career.

Norway has two gold medals, while Dutch ace Ellen van Dijk beat Australian Grace Brown to take out the women’ elite time trial.

The mixed relay time trial is set for Wednesday. The championships conclude on the weekend with the women’s road race on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday.