Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Category: sport

Se piove l’é maiala

Rain, cold, a bad accident, and the absence of many friends: the Gran Fondo Gallo Nero wasn’t great.

The weekend was saved by Giallu, Zio Stefano, and my parents who decided to drive down to Tuscany for a couple of days. Some things I will remember: the short stay at Bencistà; the ride from Florence to Greve on Saturday (photos below); the lonely house carved inside a castle near Cavriglia; il sabato del villaggio a Greve; l’Osteria Monte Murlo; the fog; Giallu staring out of the window on Sunday morning, pyjamas and mug: ‘It rains again. Well, I guess we can drive back home now. I know a good trattoria in Panzano‘.

And the race? The route was shortened down from 135 km to 85 due to the rain. Besides, it was suspended for about half an hour because of a bad crash. I rode at an average of 28 km/h and finished 334th out of 689 participants in 2:59:15 (3:23:31 counting the half an hour stop in the middle of the road). The organisation was pretty dreadful and I probably won’t sign up again.


Gran Fondo Gallo Nero

I have decided to sign up for the 135km Gran Fondo Gallo Nero, which takes place on September 22 in the Chianti.

This will be my fourth Gran Fondo after Strade Bianche, Fiesole, and San Gottardo – provided I eventually manage to participate and complete it. It will also be my third competition of 2019, after the Diagonela and Marcialonga.

I am planning to go with Alvise, Piero, Giallu, and perhaps a few other friends.

Col du Sanetsch

I read several articles about the Col du Sanetsch. It has a solid reputation as one of the most spectacular bike climbs in Switzerland. It has long been on my bucket-list. Just like in 2018 I had allowed myself the luxury of climbing up the Grosse Scheidegg, in the summer 2019 I decided that the Col du Sanetsch would be my target.

I hopped on the train very early in the morning. I arrived in Martigny at 9. From there I rode to Sion, stopping along the way to eat the apricots directly from the trees. Apricots from Valais are unique.

From Sion I rode up to Savièse; and then up for 25 km and almost 2000 m of altitude. The climb is endless: it took me about three hours to get to the top. I used the day to listen to the first chapters of The Karamazov Brothers, but at some point I had to stop: I was too tired to follow the subtle philosophical nuances of the story. By the time I reach the Col, I was completely worn out. Never in my adult life had I been so tired during a bike ride.

Luckily there is a mountain hut where I could get a huge rösti. Then down to Sion and train back to Neuchatel.

Bike rides in Switzerland

I took fifteen minutes of my time to draw a map of Switzerland with the mountain climbs I would like to ride on my bike. Those I have done already have a circle around the dot: Chasseral, Chasseron, San Gottardo, Neufenen, Furka, San Bernardo, Grosse Scheidegg, La Tourne. The others I will hopefully do at some point in the future.


Marcialonga 2019

After having shared with you the pictures of the Diagonela, I received several private comments from my readers (more than one but less than three). I decided to follow your advice: I wore a different hat for the Marcialonga.

The race was 70 km long. It took me 7 hours and 22 minutes to finish it. I skied for about 30 km together with my father but it seems that all the photographers were at the end of the race. There was some drama involved but this time I am not going to get into the details. All in all, it was a big day and I felt very close to all of those who made it possible in a variety of ways. Babbo, Mamma, Anna, Felix, Alvise, Arianna, Bea, Luisa, Marco, Fra, Jean-Thomas, Johanna, James, Paolo, Johnny, Luca, Eliana. They either gave me the equipment, came to ski with me ahead of the race, or just poked fun at me and gave some motivation. You should all participate to a big race with over 7500 people around at least once in your lifetime.





The Tour arrives on the Pyrenees today and one year ago I was there to watch it together with Giallu en route from Marseilles.


We did not know what to expect there. We found a colourful and enormous circus that cuts across national origin and social class. This was stage 12 of the Tour with the peloton arriving in Peyragudes at 1,590 m (5,217 ft) and below you will find my photos of the day.

Grosse Scheidegg

On July 12 I took the train at 6:00 and went to Interlaken (566 m). I rode up and down along the lake until I reached Brienz (also 566 m) and then gently up to Meiringen (595 m), where the actual climb begins. The road goes up nicely through the pines at first; and then brutally next to the Reichenbach falls where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle found inspiration and a death place for his hero Sherlock Holmes in the battle against Professor Moriarty. The climb then slows down for three or four kilometres, before getting pace again for a long final stretch, which I did not expect, with a steady percentage of 10 or more. The mountain pass is at 1,962 m and lies just in front of the legendary Eiger – to which I had paid an indirect tribute back in 2015. This is the Grosse Scheidegg, one of the hardest and most beautiful climbs in Switzerland.

From the top to Interlaken it is all goes down: Grindelwald (1,034 m) and Gündlischwand (660 m). I considered riding all the way back to Bern (540 m, about 50 km), but there was a strong wind and I did not have the legs.

Square pass(ports)

Together with Jelena, I wrote a blogpost on citizenship and football published on the observatory on citizenship I work for. We did some research and found out that 220 players at the world cup, that is one out of three,  have dual citizenship. These include the likes of Lionel Messi (citizen of Spain and Argentina), Kylian Mbappé (France, Cameroon and Algeria), Dele Alli (Nigeria and England). These players could well be representing another national team, if they had made the choice. And so could other players in the past: imagine what previous world championships would have looked like if Patrick Viera had chosen to play for Senegal instead of France, John Barnes for Jamaica instead of England, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski for Poland instead of Germany. You can see the visualisation we have made following this link and you can read the article here.

Post scriptum, July 23 2018: we have now published an updated version of this post on the nccr – on the move blog.


Pugni in Provenza

1984, quinta tappa della Parigi-Nizza con partenza da Miramas e arrivo a La Seyne-sur-Mer. Leader di classifica è lo scozzese Robert Millar, di gran lunga il miglior ciclista britannico fino all’epoca d’oro di Sir Bradley Wiggins e Chris Froome. Oggi Millar si fa chiamare Philippa York e vive nel Dorset.

Torniamo in Francia. E’ una giornata all’apparenza interlocutoria; ma è un’epoca, questa, in cui i big si danno battaglia ogni giorno. Nella discesa del col d’Espigoulier, nel cuore della Provenza, Bernard Hinault attacca e porta in avanscoperta un gruppetto di una ventina di corridori. Bell’imboscata.

A 35 chilometri dall’arrivo, però, il gruppo in fuga si scontra con una protesta sindacale. Qualche decina di lavoratori protesta contro licenziamenti di massa. Strada bloccata, tutti fermi, manifestanti agitati, corridori disorientati, organizzatori spiazzati. La situazione degenera in spintoni e Hinault si fa strada a modo suo.

Arriva poi la polizia e la corsa riparte. I fuggitivi spingono a tutta e mantengono un piccolo margine. La tappa la vince Eddy Planckaert in volata davanti a Sean Kelly, che spodesta Millar in classifica e va a vincere la corsa.

Hinault vinse poi molte altre gare e mantenne i suoi modi di fare piuttosto sbrigativi anche quando si trovò poi a lavorare nelle Pubbliche Relazioni al Tour de France, spostando in maniera memorabile diversi intrusi dal podio.

More enjoy fencing

I started fencing a bit more than a year ago in Torino. My teacher there was a huge guy from Cuba, Carlos. The gym was huge, too, and the training was mostly off-piste consisting of a range of physical exercise to coordinate the brain with the muscles. Back in Neuchatel, I signed up for the fencing club and I now go every Tuesday and Wednesday at lunch time. The club is small and cozy, we do a lot of duels and it is my favourite moment of the week. This is the occasion I have been waiting for to share the video More enjoy fencing with you.


I do épée.