“Eroica” means “heroic” in Italian – and that describes the legendary L’Eroica cycle race quite aptly. Wearing jerseys made of wool and cotton caps, the participants ride up and down the Tuscan hills on retro racing bicycles and vintage bicycles and exude the charm of bygone times. As a spectator, we only know little about the actual hardships that participants have to go through on the route with such retro bikes. Anyone who has conquered Eroica will have pride for themselves at the finish line.
The most famous retro cycling event
Gentle hills and cypresses along picturesque paths are just as much a part of Tuscany and its “strade bianche”, gravel roads. The characteristic gravel roads were gradually asphalted in the past – but Giancarlo Brocci did not want to accept that so easily. In order to protect the last of these gravel roads and to preserve the inspiring lifestyle of bygone times, he organized the L’Eroica cycle race for the first time in 1997.
The now most famous retro cycling event in the world has been attracting cycling enthusiasts from all over the world to the small mountain village of Gaiole in the picturesque wine-growing region of Chianti every year for more than 20 years at the beginning of October.
L’Eroica bike competition is less about sporting ambition and more about team spirit on the route. Good physical condition and a high level of stamina are therefore essential on the paths of the Italian mountain landscape. In addition to the L’Eroica race, spectators and visitors can also look forward to a flea market. Here you can haggle for everything that makes a cyclist’s heart beat faster: original accessories, retro cycling clothing, old bicycle magazines, and, of course, retro bicycles.
The Eroica in facts & figures
The number of L’Eroica participants increases every year! While only 93 cyclists took part in the first race in the 90s, in 2019 there were over 7,200 participants. Only retro racing bicycles made of steel manufactured before 1987 are allowed to compete. Modern bikes or functional clothing and technical accessories are prohibited. The riders wear wool jerseys, leather shoes, and cotton caps (although bicycle helmets are of course allowed for safety reasons).
Of course, there are not only rules for bikes and clothing. The most important regulations of race management are:
For the four longest routes, a medical certificate for “competitive cycling” is required, for the shortest a general certificate is sufficient.
Participants must be 15 years or older.
Membership in the cycling association U.C.I. is mandatory for international participants.
Participants must carry a repair kit for travel. Road bikes should have external cables and shifters attached to the down tube.
The affiliated Concours d’Élégance also evaluates and awards the most impressive bicycles that take part in the ride.