Thomson Tales

Welcome to the Mothership: Behind The Scenes With The Campagnolo Experience

No matter what brand of equipment you run, at some level it was birthed right here in the mountains outside Vicenza, Italy by Campagnolo.

You been hearing the Campagnolo legend for years. November 11th 1927: an amateur racer in the Gran Premio della Vittoria is stranded in the snow while ascending the notorious Croce d’Aune. His fingers are too numb to loosen the wingnuts and flip his rear wheel over to a lower gear. On the spot, he conceptualizes a cam-actuated lever to speed wheel changes. After months of feverish work in his father’s basement, Tulio Campagnolo patents the quick-release hub on February 8th, 1930.

The Legend Behind The Campagnolo Legend

That’s the story, anyway. But according to a well-researched 2014 article in Bicycle Quarterly and summarized here on Jan Heine’s Off The Beaten Path blog, the reality may be rather different:

“It appears that Campagnolo did not invent it [the quick release] at all. The story of the race in the snow is a myth. There was a snowy Coppa della Vittoria, but in a different year (1925), and Campagnolo isn’t mentioned in the race reports as a favorite in any of the Coppas della Vittoria of the 1920s.

“The original patent for the quick release, said to date from 1930, does not exist.”

Whatever its origins, piece by piece Campagnolo S.r.l goes on to revolutionize the entire bicycle gruppo—invents the entire concept of a bicycle gruppo, in fact. And, well, the rest is history.

Campagnolo dominates the world of road racing for decades and goes on to fabricate wheels for Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati, rotor blades for the Rolls Royce Conway jet engine, even chassis for NASA satellites.


Behind the Gray Door

Now Thomson partners with Campagnolo to offer a unique cycling opportunity. Whether you’re a Campy partigiano, a fan of all things old school and new, or just a passionate rider, this is the trip you’ve been waiting for.

A spectacular week of cycling across Italy awaits as we ride from Rome to Vicenza. This special collaboration celebrates one of the cycling history’s premier brands, including exclusive VIP access and a full offering of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Under construction since 70 CE. Still not completed.

Ride The Eternal City. And Country.

Our week-plus begins with a privileged starting position in front of the Colliseum for the Granfondo Campagnolo Roma.

With nearly 2000 meters of climbing on its 120km percorso, the Campagnolo Roma will test the legs and lungs of Thomson clients. The primary route features Roman sampietrini (which translates as “little St Peters.” Sometimes millennia-old, these cobblestones are reminiscent of Northern European pavé and every bit as challenging.

Our route through Rome and its environs features the TomanFori Imperiali, Piazza Venezia, Piazza Argentina, Corso Rinascimento, S. Andrea della Valle, via Tomacelli, Largo Goldoni, Via del Corso, Piazza del Popolo and LungoTevere to Via di Porta San Sebastiano.

Then it’s out of town to ancient castles, medieval villages, and breathtaking landscapes.

The Campagnolo Roma course features four timed climbs: Lake Albano, summer residence to the Pope; Rocca di Papa, Rocca Priora and Montecompatri, with its 12.1% average grade (max of 18%). All very dry, very challenging, and occasionally very steep.

The week ends with a private tour VIP behind the closed doors of the Campagnolo factory, including some off-limits areas and special surprises.

In between, we’ll tackle 600 km of challenging Apennine Mountain terrain, including more than 17,000 meters of climbing. And on the final day of riding we’ll go deep into the Italian Dolomites to challenge ourselves with the infamous Monte Grappa climb, twice.

Rich in Italian history and routes, and filled with the culture that created one of cycling’s great empires, our Campagnolo Experience delivers a one-of-a-kind trip.