The Piazza del Campo is no stranger to sporting events. It hosts the Palio di Siena, a horse race with medieval origins. Ten horses and their riders thunder around the tight square for three laps, in a terrifying spectacle that often lasts less than two minutes, and riderless horses are a common sight. The ‘modern’ race dates back to 1633, emerging from earlier races across the whole city, and various fighting events which took place in the square in the preceding centuries.

Cycling fans know the Piazza from the finish of Strade Bianche, which comes after riders have ascended the vertiginous Via Santa Caterina. The race, like the Palio, also emerged out of an earlier event: L'Eroica Strade Bianche, the heroic race of the white roads, an amateur event that began in 1997 and spawned a professional offshoot in 2007.

“If we talk about beauty, I believe that the white roads of Siena and L'Eroica are unique and unrepeatable”
Giancarlo Brocci

This modern classic allows heroes of the peloton to emerge: riders who can conquer the white roads, the eponymous gravel sectors. Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony is often credited as the first Romantic work. The Tuscan Eroica is certainly romantic as well as heroic, taking its protagonists across the most beautiful parts of Chianti, the dramatic landscape providing a beautiful backdrop for the action and evoking past eras of cycling.

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