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The loneliness of numbers and the memory of cycling

News · 5 May, 2022

In cycling, numbers matter a lot. They count, and they make a difference. The number of meters that are missing at the end of the hardest climb, that never seem to pass and that become long and unbearable until they are hated one after the other. The number of seconds that separate those who have won from those who have arrived later: seconds, hundredths, moments, instants. The numbers that crowd the manager’s head and that must always come back, always have to add up: the difference between income and expenses, the difference between a growing team and a slowing one.

The numbers a runner sticks on his or her back, which means being there. And this word, “being there”, on the eve of a Giro d’Italia has an even more special and beautiful meaning.

And here they are, the numbers of EOLO-KOMETA. 101 Fortunato, 102 Albanese, 103 Bais, 104 Fetter, 105 Gavazzi, 106 Maestri, 107 Rivi… and then we jump to 109 of Rosa. Yes, because cycling does not forget. And since that cursed May 9, 2011, the Giro is no longer the same thing and 108 is no longer a number like any other. The 108 was the number of a boy named Wouter Weylandt, who on the roads of the Giro d’Italia was pedaling after his dream. A boy who met his death coming down from the Passo del Bocco, where Liguria and Emilia Romagna shake hands and exchange beautiful and silent landscapes.

Since that day, no rider of the Giro d’Italia has had the number 108 and no one will ever have it: because cycling has memory. Cycling has memory. Wouter is remembered in this way: with an absence, that of his number, which becomes a presence. And the fact that this year the honor of remembering him has happened to our team only makes this Giro even more special.

 

Francesco Caielli

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