The inaugural Team Alfonsine NGNM Azimut entered the Castelli24H in Feltre, Northern Italy and made heads turn. One: they were all women; Two: this energetic group of 12 had the best looking kit at the race (okay, we’re biased); Three: it was women supporting women and they had some lungs on them as they cheered each other around the 1.9 km lap for the full 24 hours.
We caught up with Paola Macedo, a rider who is usually more into endurance than all-out efforts, who tells us she turned up to this iconic 24-hour relay race with a beginner’s mindset: “It was such a new format for me that I really didn’t know what to expect. It’s such a foreign style of riding to me – I’m more into Everesting type rides, as you know. But as soon as Lila said the words ‘cycling, team, women, race’, I was in.”
The 12 women who arrived in Feltre in their exclusive pink-and-blue NGNM team kit were all fired up to leave everything on the tarmac and make a statement. They’d been recruited by Lila Pillon, a long-term friend of our brand, who has a contagious smile and innate ability to build communities. Guided by Giuseppe Tornese, who took on the role of Director Sportive, the team had a clear race strategy: they split into four groups of three women, with each group covering one hour in fairly equal time segments – all-out for somewhere between 18 to 25 minutes each – before resting and repeating.
“The start was such an incredible moment,” says Paola with a smile that spreads across her face, “but we all ended up riding our first few circuits slower than we really needed to. This was because it was dark and we hadn’t got used to the corners yet. Once daylight came around and we’d ridden this one corner a few more times, everyone’s average speed ramped up. That corner was actually really beautiful – it came after the first climb that threw you straight into the red as soon as you started your turn. Once you’d done this 300 metre climb, the road swooped to the left with a slight incline and then came this corner. Once you knew it, you didn’t even have to touch your brakes.”
Paola went on to ride around 75 km in the 24-hour period, punctuated by brief power naps in a hotel room (better than the gazebo that they’d been expecting) and making herself hoarse by cheering so much for the rest of the team. “I’d been pretty terrified on my way there and in the weeks running up the event that I’d let the rest of the team down. I felt a bit of pressure to perform at the same level as the rest but it was so inspiring to see how strong the rest of the team can ride.”
As a disparate group of women based across Northern Italy, all with jobs and lives to manage, Paola is in awe of how well they came together at the event and the emotional support system that materialised as if by magic. “It was so much more beautiful than I expected. One of the most rewarding things is knowing how this event created such alchemy between us women, which isn’t always a given. We tend to be fairly competitive but we built such strong, genuine bonds. Celebrating the top podium all together was magic!”
These bonds are what have given the members of Team Alfonsine NGNM Azimut the confidence to consider their next event.
Did someone say the Ganten Monza 12H Cycling Marathon?