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Friday, June 7, 2024, 8:00 PM. We are in Feltre, in northern Italy, and the atmosphere is really very warm. There is just one hour left until the start of the Castelli 24h, a relay cycling race that takes place around the city's walls and has captured the hearts of cycling enthusiasts in the area, and beyond. The band is playing along the route, offering a taste of what this weekend will bring us. Speaking of food, some participants are still munching on something under the hospitality tent before putting on their team's jersey and starting to pedal.

The Castelli 24h meets all the requirements for a great cycling festival; it is fun, fast, and thrilling, with nearly 80 teams of 12 riders each tackling the 24-hour race and about 30 crazy individuals choosing to compete entirely alone, the so-called "only ones." Every team and every only one has their own strategy for the race. Teams usually organize themselves by dividing into 3 groups of 4 people who take turns in shifts of two or three hours, usually riding for 15 to 25 minutes each, with the crowd cheering along the entire circuit. Among those racing for the victory, measured by the total number of laps, are some of the best amateur teams in Italy and some former professionals; it’s clear that it’s not so easy...
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At 9 p.m., the race kicks off, and the adrenaline is immediate. Both cyclists and fans are enveloped in an atmosphere that's a mix of tension and joy. As night approaches, we enter what is perhaps the most fascinating part of the race for several reasons. Firstly, the colors and lights illuminating the course make it even more beautiful and magical. Additionally, the night certainly doesn't make you sweat like the scorching sun does during the day, at least when it isn't raining. Furthermore, nighttime is often when some teams start to fall behind the leaders, and the group of front-runners who will compete until the very last second begins to form. Last but not least, racing around a 1.8 km circuit in front of huge crowds against former professional riders like Paolo Bettini, Daniele Bennati, Valerio Agnoli, Daniel Oss, and Matteo Montaguti, is always a unique thrill, and it's even more special at night.
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Without real rest periods, cyclists are forced into a 24-hour relay race (except for the only one), an effort that the body is obviously not used to enduring. In fact, the Castelli 24h is certainly great fun and a big celebration, but fatigue is definitely part of the experience.
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The difference here is that when your legs are exhausted, you have the opportunity to signal to your teammate, stationed at the exchange zone, that you'll do one more lap and then they need to take your place. At least, this applies to the teams.

In the exchange zone, there is always a rider from every team, ready like a warrior for battle. Sometimes they look down the line of cyclists, focusing to see if their teammate is approaching.
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This year's race was an emotional rollercoaster. There were even a few falls, fortunately with minor consequences, but we know that bumps and bruises are part of this sport. Up until the final stage, the race never experienced dull moments, and the winning team secured their triumph right on the final straight, in the last sprint. Even the weather conditions helped the event's success, despite forecasts suggesting otherwise. Certainly, the festive atmosphere, the music, the food, and the energy characterized the event throughout its entire duration, giving thousands of people, both cyclists and non-cyclists, the opportunity to truly grasp the message this weekend intends to convey.
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We look forward to seeing you next year for an incredible experience, one that lives up to the unforgettable moments of this year's edition.
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