Belluno, June 4 - The sun was shining over the Cycling Stars Criterium in Bellun Dmo Dolomiti 'Il criterio delle stelle' on Monday, on World Bicycle Day, for one of the events recognized by the United Nations as promoting environmentally-friendly transportation.
The event attracts Italian and international cycling stars, including many who competed in the Giro d'Italia that ended on Sunday.
Leading athletes at the event included Vincenzo Nibali, who has won all the grand tours and this year came second behind the 'pink jersey' of winner Richard Carapaz (and the Slovenian Primoz Roglic, who was third on the podium in Verona).
Also in Belluno was Alberto Bettiol, Italian champion Elia Viviani, Giulio Ciccone, Vlerio Conti and Belgium's Victor Campenaerts.
The Cycling Stars Criterium is a celebration of cycling for everyone who is passionate about the sport and wants to meet today's champions as well as those of the past.
Visitors can snap photographs and selfies along the kilometer-long circuit in the city that athletes tour 40 times in two separate competitions.
The first, late in the afternoon, was reserved to stars of the past, including world champions Alessandro Ballan, Paolo Bettini, and Michael Rogers, as well as Alessandro Bertolini, Franco Pellizzotti, Matteo Tosatto, among others.
In the evening, today's champions including Nibali and many others competed along a circuit that ended in the central Piazza Martiri.
Enrico Bonsembiante, the organizer, hailed the event's success thanks to the participation of a high number of top cyclists and a big crowd, which enjoyed the good weather that has finally arrived.
"After two years in Montebelluna, we are trying to meet this challenge in Belluno, I hope it can be repeated for at least another two years", said Bonsembiate.
"For the champions, it is very important to have large crowds" of supporters "far from the tension of competition", he continued. "I realize that athletes have very little time during the Giro d'Italia and this is a way to spend time with people without stress or obligations and I am sure that they also have fun".
The Criterium is also a good opportunity to reflect on the tourism of cycling amateurs in the mountains, a phenomenon that has gained momentum over the last few years also thanks to pedal-assisted bikes, or e-bikes, thanks to which the Alps have become more accessible.
Paolo Zanon organizes the Italian Mountain Bike Championship in Alpago.
He said the sport is attracting an increasing number of young people "and this gives hope" and is "very important" for a discipline that vastly contributes to the development of the area, stressed Zanon.
In collaboration with:
Provincia di Belluno e Consorzio DMO Dolomiti