The countdown has started for the arrival in the Dolomites of the Giro d'Italia, one of the world's biggest stage races.
Countries are ready to welcome the cyclists and public and this year, as many other times in the past, the Dolomites around Belluno will be key for the outcome of the race, in particular the mountain group Vette Feltrine.
The climbing stage on the Dolomites, with a difference in altitude of over 5,000 meters, is scheduled on June 1.
The stage will begin in Feltre and end in Croce d'Aune, transferring across Cima Campo, Passo Manghen, Passo Rolle and the final climb of Croce d'Aune-Monte Avena. Cyclists will race through the historic route of the race Gran Fondo Sportful.
It is not the first time that the race will be decided in the Belluno province.
The Giro first went through the province of Belluno on May 26, 1937, as part of the Vittorio Veneto-Merano stage.
It was dominated by cycling legend Gino "Ginaccio" Bartali.
In 1940, the area of Belluno hosted an arrival and departure in Pieve di Cadore.
Five days before Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini announced from Rome's Palazzo Venezia that Italy was at war, the history of the Giro d'Italia was being made on the Dolomites around Belluno.
The iconic friendship-rivalry between Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali, both wearing the Legnano jersey at the time, started in the area.
While cycling on the Falzarego, Coppi broke down and was helped by Bartali, who was behind in the ranking after taking a few falls.
Six years later, he paid back the favor.
And in 1949 Dino Buzzati, a Belluno native, compared the pair to Achilles and Hector while commenting the Giro after Fiorenzo "Leone delle Fiandre" Magni had won the race a year earlier in Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Belluno was at the center of more heroic gestures during the Giro, starring champion Franco Balmamion and including a legendary stage in 1962 during which champion Charly Gaul pulled out of the race after the Passo Staulanza.
Another historic stage in 1964 saw the rise of a young cyclist, Marcello Mugnaini, who beat the famous Jacques Anquetil and Vito Taccone in the difficult area of Croce d'Aune.
Eddy Merckx in 1968 confirmed his nickname "Cannibal" with his prowess on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The Belluno Dolomites are like a history book of the Giro d'Italia, setting the stage for legendary achievements by, among others, "Cuore Matto (mad heart) Bitossi, who was forced to stop due to his heart palpitations while racing through the Pordoi, and Felice Gimondi, who was unable to win the Giro in Falcade.
More cyclists who have made cycling history on the Dolomites include Francesco Moser, Giuseppe Saronni, Gianni Bugno and Claudio Chiappucci.
It is hard to forget Laurent Fignon's tears at Passo Giau, as well as the crowds cheering Marco Pantani along the straight road before the curves of Fedaia.
More recently, Vincenzo Nibali raced through rain, snow and ice to climb on the Olympus of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo mountains.
In collaboration with:
Provincia di Belluno e Consorzio DMO Dolomiti