The draw: warm weather at a time when it’s getting cold elsewhere, views of Biscayne Bay and an exotic subtropical landscape. Like last year’s inaugural edition, the full, 100-mile course will take riders from downtown Coral Gables south to the lush agricultural Redland and the edge of the Everglades, then back north to Brickell before looping south for the finish at Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove. Where other gran fondos offer steep climbs, Miami’s substitutes usually-stiff winter winds.
The race organizer, RCS Sport, is part of RCS Media Group, which also owns the Corriere della Sera newspaper, the Rizzoli book publisher and La Gazzetta dello Sport, the sports daily that inaugurated the Giro in 1909. Because La Gazzetta is printed on pink paper, the Giro leader’s jersey is pink, unlike the Tour’s famous yellow jersey. So expect a lot of pink next week in Miami.
The Giro affiliation may also help the Miami gran fondo stand out in an increasingly crowded fall calendar of organized cycling events in South Florida, including this weekend’s Miami Dolphins Cycling Challenge, a series of escorted rides to raise money for the University of Miami’s Sylvester Cancer Center.
So far, gran fondo organizers say, some 800 people, many from out of town, have signed up for the ride, but they’re ready for as many as 2,000.
It’s not certain how far Cipollini will ride. Cipo, whose specialty was sprinting for the finish line at the end of flat race stages, was known for never actually winning, or for that matter finishing, the whole three-week Giro, given his strong aversion to climbing. Which should make Miami’s gran fondo a perfect stage for Super Mario.