Two Lithuanian cyclists moved Giro to Lithuania
Due to coronavirus pandemic, the 103th prestigious Giro d‘Italia cycling stage race will be moved from its initially-scheduled May dates to October, but for two Lithuanian cyclists it has already taken place – two young sportsmen, 20-year-old Denas Masiulis and 22-year-old Justas Beniušis (Klaipėda Cycling Team), have covered the entire mileage of the legendary bicycle race.
On May 9-31, in Lithuania, when the original Giro should have taken place, the two sportsmen cycled 3600 kilometres in their homeland’s roads (average speed at 33 km/h; about 550,000 pedal strokes in total) and spent an entire 110 hours riding the bicycle (or more than 4.5 days and nights). Cyclists stuck with their race programme each day covering the same distance according to the timetable of the original Giro d’Italia.
Denas and Justas started and finished their challenge in Klaipėda, one of the largest Baltic seaports. Beniusis symbolically called this ambitious cycling adventure Giro d’ItaLIETUVA. The greatest distance – 251 kilometres – had been covered by the sportsmen on last Friday. For more than ten times Lithuanian cyclists had to cycle more than 200 kilometres per day. You may find Denas and Justas route, including the final stage of 16,5 kilometres, on the Strava app.
After completing the 21st stage, the cyclists were celebrated at the pile of symbolically pink Giro colour hay rolls. The sportsmen’s stamina was awarded with trophies, resembling the original Giro d’Italia ones. Masiulis and Beniušis were also celebrated by their close relatives, friends and other prominent cyclists, including 2012 Giro d’Italia leader Ramūnas Navardauskas (Nippo Delko One Provence), Tomas Vaitkus, who in 2006 won one of the Giro stages, and also former professional cyclists Gediminas Bagdonas, Gediminas Kaupas and Darijus Džervus.
The two-time Giro winner (2013 and 2016) Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) sent a recorded congratulation. The Lithuanian cyclists also received congratulations from UAE-Team Emirates members from Italy – Diego Ulissi (the winner of six Giro stages) and the winner of 2015 Vuelta a Espana Fabio Aru. Ignatas Konovalovas (Groupama-FDJ), who won a one Giro stage in 2009, also sent best regards for his Lithuanian colleagues.
“I am very happy, that everything went so well. During the quarantine, we have not trained a lot and lacked motivation. One day, while cycling, the idea to complete Giro came to my mind. There was only a week left to May 9. After consulting the coaches, I got their approval. I talked to my team mate Denas, he was eager to join me. That’s how it all began. In the beginning, we hesitated to advertise our idea, there were doubts on completing the whole distance, we were afraid of any ridicule in the case of failure. The first days were the toughest ones, as we had to cycle without proper physical preparations because of the quarantine. Somehow we managed to get into the second week, the last week was the most serene one, as there were a few days left. Our biggest fear was bad weather. During the first week, the temperature was no more than 14 degrees, we had rain, therefore, from the fourth to the eight stage thoughts of quitting were around. After completing half of the distance, we felt an inspiration, quitting was out of the question”, – Beniušis recalls.
According to Lithuanian U23 ITT champion (2018, 2019), any special fatigue after all the cycling is not an issue for him; moreover, he is eager to invite more cyclists to join similar project. “Now euphoria is felt, there is no place for any special fatigue or exhaustion left. We were cycling at low intensity and low speed. The last days were even easier. Of course, I would repeat this and would invite more people to join, it would be more fun”, – Beniušis added.
According to Masiulis, it was a great challenge to cycle more than 200 kilometres per day. “There were days, when not everything went as planned. The first Lithuanian Giro week taught me a lesson – always have a spare tyre. We had been cycling without any escort, just me and Justas, or even I cycled all alone. Sometimes some amateurs joined us along the way”, – Denas says.
“Every day was a struggle to survive, as these 200 kilometre stages were quite exhausting and demanding. During the first week, when we’re cycling for 6-7 hours in rain, there were thoughts to quit. I was thinking – why do I need this? Now, I am feeling fantastic. It is a great pleasure and achievement. There were sceptics saying we are going to break, but we managed to cycle the entire mileage”, – Denas adds.
This year Giro d‘Italia cycling stage race in Hungary and Italy may take place on October 3-25.