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L’Eroica 2024

October 5 - October 6

gravel cyclists at l'eroica
Last Updated April 2, 2024

L’Eroica is an annual cycling event in the beautiful Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. This unique event is a celebration of vintage cycling, and it attracts cyclists from all over the world who come to ride the picturesque roads of Tuscany on their vintage bicycles.  The history of L’Eroica dates back to 1997 when a group of cycling enthusiasts decided to organize a non-competitive event to promote the cultural and environmental heritage of the Chianti region, as well as to help preserve the last gravel roads in Tuscany. Its founder states, “We want people to rediscover the beauty of fatigue and the thrill of conquest”. The event was an instant success; over the years, it has become one of the world’s most popular vintage cycling events.  Strambecco rates the event as one of the Best Gravel Fondos in Italy.

L’Eroica is not just a cycling event per se; it’s also a cultural and gastronomic experience. Along the route, riders can stop at the numerous rest stops, where they can taste local wines, cheeses, and other Tuscan specialties. The event culminates in a festival in Gaiole in Chianti, where riders and spectators can enjoy live music, local food, and wine.

Event & Course Info

The event is held each Fall, and it offers riders the opportunity to ride on some of Tuscany’s most scenic and challenging roads. There are five route options, however the headlining event is a 205 km loop that starts and finishes in the town of Gaiole in Chianti, and it takes riders through vineyards, olive groves, and medieval villages, with plenty of hills and gravel roads to test their skills and endurance. Here is a rundown of the top three most challenging routes:

The Long Route / Lungo: Authentic L’Eroica Experience – Spanning a distance of 212.5KM with an elevation of 3,891M, the Long Route embodies the L’Eroica spirit in its most raw and authentic form. Cyclists traverse 168.70KM on white roads and 43.80KM on asphalt roads, making their journey through torch-lit Brolio Castle in Siena and medieval marvels such as Buonconvento. Six refreshment stops await riders, with the organic food haven in Buonconvento standing out as a highlight. If you embark on this route, an average 15-hour ride awaits, with many riders completing their journey after 10pm, attesting to its challenging nature. And a special mention to the tantalizing wholemeal organic spelt tart – it’s not to be missed!

The Medium Route / Crete Senesi: Touching the Legend – The Medium Route, covering 132.6KM with an elevation of 2,235M, offers a taste of L’Eroica’s legendary reputation. Cyclists will navigate 72.70KM on white roads and 59.90KM on asphalt roads, journeying through the breathtaking medieval village of Buonconvento, which holds the esteemed title of one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. A significant challenge on this route is the renowned Monte Sante Marie climb, which pushes riders to their limits, encouraging them to tackle it pedal-to-pedal. Four well-placed refreshment stops, including those at Radi and Castelnuovo Berardenga, offer cyclists the much-needed respite and nourishment on this journey that often stretches beyond 10-12 hours.

The Hundred Route / Val D’arbia: A Refreshing Challenge – The latest addition to L’Eroica’s 23rd edition in Gaiole in Chianti, the Hundred Route is both a challenge and a delight. Covering 106KM with an elevation gain of 1,793M, it is accessible to a broader range of cyclists. The route takes riders through 59.40KM of white roads and 46.60KM of asphalt roads, offering scenic views of the Crete Senesi. Though shorter than the others, three refreshment stops ensure that riders are well-fueled throughout their journey which kicks off between 7:00 and 7:30 in the morning.

What makes L’Eroica so popular is its unique spirit and atmosphere. Unlike many modern cycling events, L’Eroica is not a race, with no prizes or rankings. Instead, it’s a celebration of vintage cycling and the culture of Tuscany, and participants are encouraged to ride their vintage bicycles and wear vintage clothing.  The event is also known for its strict rules, which require participants to ride bicycles made before 1987, with down-tube shifters and without clipless pedals. The event organizers also limit the number of participants to maintain the intimate and authentic atmosphere of the event.

They also have a permanent route established for those that wish to explore the region on their own time outside of the event.

Area Accommodations & Things to Do

The official travel partner for L’Eroica is C-WAY, who will help find you a hotel that will be suit your needs for the event and support your travel needs while you are in Gaiole for the event. There are also amazing private vacation rentals from entire villas to country houses. For those that enjoy camping, there will be a dedicated area near the start/finish where you can tent or camp in your caravan.

Gaiole in Italy’s Chianti region boasts a rich culinary scene, deeply rooted in Tuscan traditions, with local vineyards producing some of the world’s finest wines, and rustic trattorias serving dishes made from locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. Visitors are treated to authentic flavors ranging from robust Chianti wines to savory wild boar stews and fresh olive oils. Check out these recommendations of where to eat and even consider a visit to one of its Michelin star restaurants.

Nestled in the heart of Italy’s famed Chianti region, Gaiole offers more than just its renowned wines and rustic culinary delights. By the early Fall, as the Tuscan sun casts golden hues over the rolling hills and vineyards, outdoor enthusiasts find a myriad of activities to indulge in.

For those who prefer their adventures on foot, Gaiole’s vineyards provide the perfect backdrop for both running and hiking. Early Fall’s mild temperatures and the onset of grape harvest season make it a visually stunning time to explore. Runners can set their pace along the trails weaving through vineyards, with the Sangiovese grapes almost ready for harvest as their companions. For those inclined towards hiking, the undulating hills provide varying levels of difficulty, and the opportunity to stop at a vineyard for a wine tasting session makes the journey all the more appealing.

The Chianti Mountains, with their rugged cliffs and rock formations, are a magnet for climbers. Various spots cater to different skill levels, from beginners to seasoned pros. By September/October, the cooler mornings are ideal for climbing, ensuring the rocks aren’t too hot to the touch. As athletes ascend, they’re treated to panoramic views of the Chianti region, a sight that’s sure to make the climb even more memorable. Local adventure companies offer guided climbs and equipment rentals, making it accessible for visitors.

Related Events

In recent years, L’Eroica has inspired the creation of similar events worldwide, from California to Japan. However, the original event in Tuscany remains the most popular and prestigious, attracting thousands of participants each year.

Other best-in-class gravel events taking place in Italy include La Monsterrato which is part of the UCI Gravel World Series, Veneto Gravel Classic on the Gran Fondo Gravel World Tour, and the infamous Strade Bianche Gran Fondo.

For multi-sport endurance athletes looking for other events in Italy to add to their calendar, be sure to check out our full list of Strambecco Best in Class Gran Fondos such as Tre Valli VeresineUCI Gran Fondo World Series and Specialized Gran Fondo Series event or Maratona dles Dolomites – as well as top mountain biking, and trail running events.

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Eroica

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Season
Autumn
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