Riding with the Cannibal

Coppi Bartoli races passes old guy on a Bartoli bike
The 2009 edition of Giro warm-up race Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali kicked off yesterday. Grand Tour riders Cadel Evans and Damiano Cunego are on the five-day race, which takes place in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.

I watched this race in 2005, staying at the bike-luxe Perla Hotel in Riccione, start town of the race known locally as just ‘Coppi e Bartali’, named for Italy’s favourite road champions.

I took the pic above of an old guy watching the race pass. I love the fact he’s astride a beat-up Bartoli.

The 2005 event was also memorable for me because I rode with the Cannibal. Eddy Merckx was getting back on the bike after a period of tubbiness. He was still fast.

Eddy Merckx with Robin Barton

I was on the ride with fellow travel writer, Robin Barton. Great writer, rubbish action photographer: he never managed to grab a shot of me with Eddy. So here’s one of me descending a Tuscan hill on the same trip. It was a press trip organised by Italy Bike Hotels, a group of roadie-friendly hotels, mostly on the Adriatic coast.

Me on a Tuscan descent