Trains are common in cycling. There are sprint trains, as teams try to perfectly position their sprinter on flat finishes; leadout rider after leadout rider peeling off in turn in order to hopefully give their fastman the best opportunity to win. These rose to prominence with Mario Cipollini in the 90s, and then were perfected by HTC Highroad and Mark Cavendish in the 00s.
In recent years, we have seen the rise of mountain train as well, as the big-budget general classification teams seek to control the pace on climbs. The art was introduced by Team Sky, then Ineos, then Ineos Grenadiers. The Sky train has returned at this year's Giro d'Italia, as the team attempt to give Richard Carapaz the support he needs to win the maglia rosa. Jumbo-Visma have also picked up the mountain train for Primož Roglič at both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España in the last few years.
Trains sometimes stop races too, with level crossings interrupting the action; recently the Tour de Hongrie and the Tour de Romandie were both paused as trains went by. Sometimes riders even take their lives into their own hands by crossing the tracks.
At this Giro d'Italia, however, another type of train has been highly visible. On certain stages of the 2022 Giro route, as the peloton has rolled alongside railway tracks, a pink train has appeared, adorned in the colours of the corsa rosa, or pink race.
It is the result of a partnership between the Giro's organisers, RCS, and Trenitalia, Italy's primary train operator. It's no ordinary train, although it is the standard POP regional version you could nip about the country on. This one is the special Giro train, which has been carrying the race's trophy alongside the peloton on some stages.
The Trofeo Senza Fine has been in the company of dignitaries at times, which included Trek-Segafredo's world champion Elisa Balsamo and her teammate Letizia Paternoster on Thursday. The CEOs of RCS and Trenitalia were also there, having the time of their lives, we're sure.
Speaking to us from the pink train, or il trenino rosa, a spokesman for Trenitalia said that the view from the railway gave a "unique and thrilling perspective".
It certainly gave viewers something to look at on the duller bits of this year's race; maybe it gave the riders something to race as well at times.
"To share our mutual passion, in Sicily and in the Marche we managed for the pink train to literally run side by side to the cyclists, so close they could almost touch," the spokesman said.
"It's a unique and thrilling perspective. And to almost look the athletes in the eyes, and to see them wave back at the tooting train is exhilarating."
Who doesn't love to wave back at a tooting train? Perhaps the peloton houses some secret fans of Francis Bourgeois, - for the uninitiated - the British social media sensation who makes truly frightening TikToks about being a massive train nerd.
Maybe he should pop over to Italy and swap into some bib shorts for a unique view of the railways. While the trains on stages of the Giro are just for VIPs, they will continue to run after the race is over.
Those imagining that there is just one special train may be lining up for disappointment. There are three trains wrapped in pink in total, and commuters in Sicily, Marche, or Liguria this summer can all hop aboard the pink trains, which Trenitalia have actually dubbed Amore Infinito, or Endless Love. If you are at the intersection of cycling and train nerdery, then it might well be endless love with the three POP trains.
"This is our third year as Official Green Carrier of the Giro d’Italia from the first stage of the race in Italy to the final rush," the Trenitalia spokesman explained.
"Collaborating together was almost inevitable. We are each over one hundred years old, we run across Italy, bringing people, together, connecting small towns and the countryside with major cities. We have both been active participants in the making of recent history."
Trains and cycling have more in common, with both modes of transport surely part of the future of environmentally friendly travel. Trenitalia have this partnership with RCS partly to advertise the fact that they are a bike friendly railway company, unlike some notable others.
"Through the years in fact Trenitalia has invested massively in order to satisfy the growing need to combine train and bike as a practical, environmentally friendly and convenient mode of transport," the spokesman continued.
"Everyday our last generation Regional trains, which come complete with up to 18 bike racks and sockets to recharge e-bikes, offer over 20 thousand bike spaces through the whole of Italy.
"And we have just added to our fleet two new special ‘bike’ trains, accommodating up to 64 bikes, travelling to some of the most scenic bike routes in Italy
"This year, to celebrate the Giro and our partnership, we personalised three regional POP trains.
"And so this summer anyone travelling through Sicily, Marche or Liguria will have the chance to see and travel on board a pink Amore Infinito train."
There we go. The Giro d'Italia might have longstanding connections with food, with wine, with the regions of Italy, but it also has one with the railways. Long may it continue, and give a whole new perspective on cycling.
I've secured footage from on-board the pink train!! pic.twitter.com/iZ1V2rFLCjMay 18, 2022
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