The “Spirit of the Giro” was in high gear outside Pasadena’s historic City Hall as 800 bicyclists took to the streets at 7 a.m. Sunday, July 22, for the mass start of the historic, first-ever Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia event held in the United States. Legendary bicyclist Francesco Moser begin the traditional mass start along Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez as riders were taken onto the open road course by police escort.
Moser is one of the world’s most iconic riders of all times; a living legend in the cycling world with an impressive 273 career victories and two world championships. He dominated the international cycling scene in the 1970s and early 1980s, earning the nickname “The Sheriff” among fellow cyclists and competitors. Now is a well-known wine producer.
Although now long-retired from competitive cycling, Moser could not resist the urge to make history one more time by attending the signature event by Giro d’Italia. A clear sunny morning welcomed the inaugural Gran Fondo. “Quite a challenging route,” commented Moser about the ride “I enjoyed tremendously the atmosphere and the relaxed pace of this Gran Fondo.”
Gran Fondos are long-distance cycling events that have been a tradition in Italy for decades and are becoming quite popular throughout the rest of the world. Bicyclists of all ages and abilities join in the fun. In Pasadena, participants had the option to ride on one of three course distances of either about 25, 67 or 93 miles. All three courses included a traditional ride around Pasadena’s Rose Bowl—America’s Stadium—while the longer course took riders into Pasadena’s neighboring cities and up along Angeles Crest Highway in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Finish Line brought all riders back to Pasadena City Hall where the Gran Fondo Giro D’Italia Expo was held with numerous pavilions showcasing bicycles, riding gear, specialty items for cyclists and, as a unique touch to the event , the original Giro d’Italia’s trophy. “What a great event” said Jim Garfield from Santa Monica “And it was so special and exciting to see the actual Giro d’Italia trophy!”
The Giro d’Italia, also known as “The Giro” was founded in 1909 and is a highly competitive, three-week stage race throughout Italy. It is considered among the biggest and toughest professional bicycle races in the world, highlighting the geographical diversity of Italy with challenging climbs and twisting descents, dramatic coastal runs and rural back road landscapes.