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Giro - La Grande Bellezza

A tribute to the Giro d'Italia

Imagine, a peloton with artists like Michelangelo, Botticelli and Leonardo Da Vinci at the start podium of the time trial in Torino. Every cyclist knows that the best inspiration and creativity come right after you managed to overwin a climb. That is, right after you first cursed and died uphill, then slowly feel invincible again, as soon as the pressure is off the pedals and you pick up speed going downhill. Taking your bike out to get inspiration for new artworks, that is ArtNouvélo’s way of life. The mix of endorphins and the fact that you empty your head completely during a 100k bike tour is the best preparation for a challenge you need to tackle (wrong sport?) or a deadline you need to achieve in the near future. So in our dreams, Caravaggio went into an early dramatic breakaway while Rubens took a sticky bidon from team manager Michelangelo, shouting from the window of his old Fiat, right behind the grupetto or peloton. Giorgio Morandi just managed to avoid a flat tire, jumping over a few broken vases that a wacko Dutch genius put there in his quest for the sunflowers during today’s stage. And oh yes, Dante Alighieri is taking notes for his columns in the Gazzetta dello Sport.

All of this as a short introduction to our artworks related to the Giro d’Italia -although ironically enough none of the above artists really feature the end result.  ArtNouvélo would not be ArtNouvélo without writing a few lines about this year’s edition of the Giro d’Italia. For us probably the most beautiful race of year. The race whose charm and splendid past continues to overwhelm us year after year. The race that brings us to fantastic (art) cities like Torino, Firenze, Milano, Verona, Perugia, Siena, Verona with great architecture and where a few of the most beautiful masterpieces of the world were created and exposed. These cities are connected with fantastic landscapes: the gravel roads between vineyards in Tuscany, the peaks of the Abbruzzo landscape, the view from the top of the Monte Zoncolan across the Carnic Alps (if not covered in clouds), the lagoon of Grado aka “l’isola del sole” (the island of the sun), The majestic Garda Lake close to Verona and the hilly terrain at the border with Slovenia, etc.

ArtNouvélo is enjoying this Giro, with great athletes as Filippo Ganna, Egan Bernal, Simon Yates, Remco Evenepoel, Vincenzo Nibali, Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan. The level is really high this year, with the youngster dominating the race. Many riders had to abandon the course already in the first two weeks, before the real heavy mountains stages even started. Bad weather (wait a minute, is this Italy?) has struck the peloton badly, making the race twice as hard as usual. As a tribute to those fantastic athletes, ArtNouvélo made artworks of all the stage winners, on the iconic pink paper of the Gazzetta dello Sport. How have we been working on that exactly? We got up early every day, heading to the kitchen for a true Italian espresso – a double one after a late night-  but never without having put on our Armani costume first. We were watching -one might call it ‘observing’ - the race in our Italian designed living rooms, gesticulating heavily with our hands and occasionally demanding for Virgin Maria’s grace and goodwill with our stylish dark sunglasses on. After every race we would indulge ourselves in antipasti and an Aperol Spritz to wash away the stress and excitement of the day. Simultaneously we had our wives boil the pasta for dinner (ArtNouvélo is not afraid of a cliché!), while we would had to the basement to pick up a bottle of Montalcino wine. Close to bedtime we would then realize that we had spent the whole day in Giro-mode, talking a lot but having put nothing on paper. Not a single line of the day’s stage winner, not a single word about the race. As a result we would end up in the dark quiet hours of the night painting the Dombowski’s, Mäders, Vendrames and Vocsnors of this thrilling 2021 Giro edition, headset on (design, of course), Italian tones coming out of the speakers. Full gazzz and paint.  

Last year we wrote already about our idol Eddy Merckx, who won his first big tour in Italy, against local hero Felice Gimondi. And now, with the young Belgian talented cyclist Evenepoel, also from Brussels, finally participating to his first grand tour, we dreamt big again. We shouldn’t have because of the crash last summer during the decent of the steep Sormano, but as true tifosi (Italian for ‘fans’) we let ourselves go. Same like Eddy, he wouldn’t win the pink jersey in his first Giro. But what a pleasure it was to see this youngster fight with the best climbers of his generation, giving everything of himself each stage, until reality hit in after 10 days and the gravel race to Montalcino. The wine didn’t taste bitter or sour. It just had to mature still. Remco is a grand cru, we all have to realize that. Rome, as they say, wasn’t built in a day. A grand cru doesn’t mature in 1 or 2 winters.

To conclude this short article and declaration of love for the Giro and its country : watching the Giro reminded us to the movie of the fantastic Film Director Paolo Sorrentino ‘La Grande Bellezza’. This movie is full of lost people — so lost that they no longer can see the great beauty that surrounds them every day. On our bike, away from everything that bothers us, we do have the time to see how beautiful life can be. As a metaphor of how amazing cycling is and how close it brings us to our roots and nature, we see a flock of pink flamingos accompany the Giro peloton wherever it goes, graciously and colourful.