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Ride the 101st Giro d'Italia with Daniele Ratto

Italian ex-professional cyclist Daniele Ratto will lead you on a journey of discovery, on and off the bike, at the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia

Experience real Italian hospitality, cuisine and cycling culture by bike, supported by Italian tour specialists Italy Bike Tours. Ride stages and then watch the Pro’s battle it out in the fight for pink, next May.

Italian, ex-pro Danielle Ratto lived the dream. He won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana and rode the Giro d’Italia with team Liquigas-Cannondale. He rode with some of the best riders in the world, including Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali.

Daniele Ratto left, with team mate Ivan Basso right, riding for Team Liquigas-Cannondale in the 2014 Giro d´Italia

Daniele Ratto left, with team mate Ivan Basso right, riding for Team Liquigas-Cannondale in the 2014 Giro d´Italia
 

Q: Danielle, what are your greatest memories of riding the Giro compared with this year’s 101st edition?

Being Italian and riding the Giro d’Italia, it was one of the most special highlights of my career. I was part of the Liquigas-Cannondale team and rode with the likes of Ivan Basso, Moreno Moser and Elia Viviani, who currently rides for Quick-Step Floors.

This year’s route features the Monte Zoncalon on Stage 14, which will be one of the most amazing spectacles for the Italian Tifosi and cycling fans from around the world. The Zoncolan stage is incredible for fans, as they get a 360 degree view on the upper slopes as rider’s battle to win the stage or just finish in the time limit.

In 2014, the year I rode the Giro d’Italia with Cannondale, the start of the Zoncolan stage, it was a very fast and a large group of 20 riders went away. My teammate Moreno Moser chased but eventually that group formed a breakaway.

Unfortunately that day, my teammate Elia Viviani was suffering, so teammates Paolo Longo Borghini, Michel Koch and Oscar Gatto and I worked together to look after him.

We went over three climbs that day, the Passo del Pura, the Sella Razzo and up to finish atop the 10km climb of the Monte Zoncolan! It’s really amazing for spectators, they can see in your eyes the pain on your face and your body just to finish the stage. They shout and scream encouragement whilst your body is in agony!

For those at the back, the lantern rouge, the tradition is for the Tifosi to give riders a push to keep them going and finish within the time limit. It’s hard to describe this huge amazing party, thousands of people all shouting encouragement inches away.

I think that year some fans got over excited, if I remember rightly, Wout Poels who was riding for Omega Pharma, yanked the sunglasses off one fan who got too close and threw them in the air!

VIDEO: Wout Poels yanks sunglasses off one fan on the Monte Zoncolan

In fact, the Maglia Rosa wearer himself was not immune to the dangers of the Zoncolan! A Colombian fan all but hugged Nairo Quintana as he rode past, but luckily the Movistar man succeeded in keeping his balance.

Viewed from afar it’s just 10km long and only reaches 1,730m above sea level but it is one of the steepest roads in the sport and has quickly become one of the most feared climbs, the bottom gradient starts at 17%, there are tunnels and sections of at least 20%.

It’s so steep that Team cars are not allowed up, mechanics have to accompany their riders on the back of a motorbike. When Mario Cipollini arrived at the foot of the climb in 2003 he switched to a mountain bike! It’s become a reference point, such that when a new climb appears in a stage race it is often compared: “Is it as steep as the Zoncolan?”

Photo: Brutal Monte Zoncolan stage 14 finish at the 2018 Giro d'Italia

Brutal Monte Zoncolan stage 14 finish at the 2018 Giro d'Italia
 

Q: What are your impressions on this year’s Giro d’Italia route?

This year’s race is hard, believe me, but not as hard as some of the previous editions. There are eight mountain finishes, so it will certainly suit GC contenders like Fabio Aru.

The stages in Israel and Sardinia don’t look too hard. The first uphill test is Mount Etna in the first week. The second week gets harder with 3 mountain finishes.

But the last week is key, because after 2 weeks of racing, riders become more and more tired, and the mountain stages become more difficult.

The last week is hard, but not impossible.

The last 12 days of the race will certainly be the most exciting for cycling fans!

Daniele pulls at the front of the peloton for Team Liquigas-Cannondale in the 2014 Giro d’Italia

Daniele pulls at the front of the peloton for Team Liquigas-Cannondale in the 2014 Giro d’Italia
 

Q: Who is your favorite to win this year’s race?

Again, being Italian I believe this year is Fabio Aru’s chance to win the race overall.

I hope that Elia Viviani, my old team mate, can win a Sprinters stage,and I'm betting that Giovanni Visconti can win a couple of stages too.

It’s looking good for Italian riders and the Tifosi - the Italian cycling fans!

Q: What other mountain stages come to mind?

I think Stage 19 to Monte Jafferu is going to be a stressful day for the peloton, both physically and mentally draining. It will hard for the legs and stress on the mind!

The stage features the half paved climb of the steep Colle delle Finestre and the climb to Sestriere. The climbs are tough and the roads very narrow.

Being one the final stages in the race, it will be vital for the GC contenders to be at the front. This will cause a lot of nervousness in the peloton especially on the narrow and dangerous descents.

The final mountain top finish on Stage 20 to Cervinia is the last opportunity in fight for the pink - the Magila Rosa!

Q: The last 12 days of the Giro contain some incredible stages, what can people who sign up look forward to?

Whether you come for the final 12 days, third week or the final weekend, we guarantee a trip of a lifetime.

Highlights are visiting Lake Garda and Lake Iseo, as well as Milano, Piemonte, Veneto and of course Rome on the final stage.

We’ll ride up the most iconic Giro d’Italia climbs including the ‘climb of windows’ the Colle delle Finestre as well as one of the most feared climbs in professional cycling the mighty Monte Zoncolan and Monte Jafferu.

We’ll watch the most thrilling stages of the Giro d’Italia and the fight for pink.

We have arranged exclusive points for you to watch all the stages with a glass of Processeco in hand! You can enjoy the podium presentations before we whisk you off to dinner, the full VIP treatment!

Q: How can you sum up Italy Bike Tour’s Giro d’Italia Tours?

After the huge success of our sold out Giro d’Italia trips last year, we’re offering 5 comprehensive packages from the start in Jerusalem, the mountain stages from the Zoncolan to the Cervinia, the final 12 days, the third week and final weekend.

The last 12 days are going to be really special!

Our packages are tailored for cyclists and cycling fans to get the most out of the Giro d’Italia and Italy experiencing authentic Italian culture, cycling and food.

As head guide, I will lead our cycling guests up the famous climbs used in the race and we’ll watch the professional’s race up them too.

Our approach gives everybody the chance to do as much or as little as they wish. We welcome non-cyclists and those who simply wish to enjoy Italy in all its splendid glory too.

Our tours include private airport transfers, 4 star accommodation at top hotels during your stay, dedicated staff and support vehicle during our guided rides, plus special day trips to experience some of Italy’s most famous sights.

Our dedicated team of staff will ensure that you all you need to worry about is taking photos and what flavor ice cream you want to order!

We know the best places to take you for coffee, and as a full time cycling tour operator in Italy we rightly are considered experts in Italian cycling tourism.

Q: What about the group sizes for the tours?

To make this the very best experience, the groups are limited to 12 cyclists or less. We have already had some Americans and Australians sign up, so places are limited.

I live in Bergamo and Italy Bike Tours are based here all year round - unlike other tour companies, who come over from abroad with guests and their temporary staff.

We believe our Tours are great value with the very best Italian cycling, culture and food combined with our experience and support.

Rest assured our guests will be looked after and guided at all times. From the minute they arrive to the minute they depart, our team will be on hand to look after our guest.

I guarantee them an experience of a lifetime.

Caio!

Five Limited Availability Giro Packages on Offer

Giro d Italia Bike Tours 2018 Travel Packages with Italy Bike ToursJoin Daniele Ratto and Italy Bike Tours for an unforgettable week in Italy following the Giro d’Italia. Ride parts of the route each day and experience the thrill of getting up close to the pro peloton as they battle for the pink jersey. The beautifully crafted tour incorporates the very best of Italian hospitality, cuisine and cycling culture.

After the huge success of our Giro d’Italia travel packages in 2017 we will be offering 5 comprehensive packages for the 2018 edition. The packages include the last weekend, last week, last 10 days and the whole 3 weeks. We will also be offering a number of bespoke packages for small groups. If you are looking for the most fun, best value for money, fabulous hotels and food and staff that have no equal then please reserve your place early to avoid disappointment.

No hassle packages allow you to focus on riding and enjoying the Giro d’Italia. Italy Bike Tour’s dedicated team of staff will insure that you all you need to worry about is taking photos and how much ice cream you want to order. We know the best places to take you for coffee and as the only full time cycling tour operator in Italy we rightly are considered experts in Italian cycle tourism.

They offer flexibility to clients and appreciate that not everyone will want to ride every day and not everyone will want to ride ‘long’ distance. The inclusive approach gives everybody the chance to do as much or as little as the wish. They welcome non-riders and those who simply wish to enjoy Italy in all its splendid glory.

The trips are limited to 12 people and we welcome the opportunities to send you more details on request.

Grande Partenze Giro d’Italia 2018 Jerusalem, May 2 - 7 - italybiketours.co.uk/tours/grande-partenze-giro-ditalia

Giro d’Italia – Final 12 days, May 17-28 - italybiketours.co.uk/tours/giro-ditalia-final-10-days

Zoncolon to Cervinia, May 18 - 27 - italybiketours.co.uk/tours/zoncolon-to-cervinia

Giro d’Italia – The Third Week, May 21 - 28 - italybiketours.co.uk/tours/giro-ditalia-the-third-week

Giro d’Italia – Last weekend, May 24 - 28 - talybiketours.co.uk/tours/giro-ditalia-last-weekend/