The Romagna region of Italy is very beautiful because it is near the sea, but it is surrounded by amazing mountains as well. It is also famous because of the cuisine, tradition and for all of the holiday destinations that are situated along the coast. Almost every year I spend four or five days at the hotel Doge in Torre Pedrera near Rimini. My friends Daniele and Federico are the owners and they are very passionate about cycling.
In Romagna you can breathe in the passion for cycling, with its most legendary champion being the late Marco Pantani. Everyone who followed cycling in the nineties knows that there was no better climber than Pantani. He won the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same year, and rode to victory in many mountain stages during his participations in the Grand Tours, dueling with the likes of Indurain, Armstrong and other champions of the day. After his death in 2004 he entered the books as a legend of Italian cycling.
I knew that his favourite climb was the Carpegna mountain that you can see very well in the hinterland of Rimini. I like the sea, but like a lot of Swiss people, I am always attracted to the mountains, so I asked Federico to tell me the exact road to go up so I could do the Carpegna climb.
When you start the ride from Rimini the first kilometers are very easy, although the road is always a little uphill as you pass through the beautiful town of Santarcangelo di Romagna. After that you enter the Uso river valley and the road goes up the Montetiffi climb, which is short but really hard in the final.
The day when I did the ride it was super hot and I had to stop at the small fountain near the church. Then I continued the short descent and up the famous Perticara climb, which is 7 kilometers long and very steep in the first part and leads to the town on top of the mountain. Perticara is a small village where the time seems to have stopped in the 60s. That are no cars around and peace and quiet surrounded the few cyclists that dared to ride the climb on such a hot day.
I had no time to stop and continued on my ride descending towards Novafeltria and the up to Pennabilli where the Cantoniera pass road starts. The climb is is 15 kilometers with a 5% gradient that takes you up to 1000 meters above sea level. It is a very good climb to train because the grade is very regular.
On top of the Canoniera pass there is the short descent towards the town of Carpegna, where the road to Pantani’s favorite climb starts. There were lot of signs on the side of the road to remind you that Pantani trained there and used these roads to prepare for his victories.
I started climbing and the road was very steep inside the trees. In the last kilometers of the climb the road wasn’t as hard, but the altitude of 1400 meters began to have some effect on your breathing, and you felt like you were on top of a big pass in the Alps. My time to the top of the Carpegna was 26 minutes and 30 seconds , which I have to admit is a long way from Pantani’s record of 19 minutes something, but he was the best climber in the world and, even though I try to ride with the spirit of the climbers, I am better suited for the flats.
From the top of the climb to Rimini the road is all descending. At the beginning is a steep descent, but then it turns into a valley that takes you down towards the sea. As I was finishing up my ride and turned back to see the big mountain of Carpegna from Rimini behind, it gave me a really good feeling knowing I got in a solid day of training on the fantastic roads of Romagna.