Fabbrica means factory in Italian. So? Well the finish town of today's Giro d'Italia is Vicenza, home of several bicycle manufactures factories including Condor. A few miles west lie the factories of Campagnolo and Fizik.
Senior Bike Fitter, Julian Cunnington, and Production Director, Neil Manning, flew to Fizik's 'fabbrica' last month to look over the latest Fizik shoes and saddles being made, investigate their new handlebar and stem offering (due next year) and to take part in the Fizik Gran Fondo. The start town of the ride is Marostica, it lies on the edge of the Dolomites and the ride is a skirmish into smaller lumps of the famous Dolomite mountain range.
Marostica, close to the river Brenta, is a town famous for the human chess game that has been played every year since World War one. It is the home town of Enrico Battaglin the winner of stage 4 at this year's Giro and birthplace of former cycling World Champion, Tatiana Guderzo. Take a look up into the hills at the castle nestled in the rocks. Castello Superiore is marvel offering great view of the surrounding area and Julian's tip for the most atmospheric places to eat. Serving up locally grown risotto rice served with seafood.
From the town of Marostica and there are several short climbs that are easily accessible for riders. The Gran Fondo begins in the famous square where the human chess game is usually played and heads up the short climbs to warm up the riders before taking them onto the longest climb of on the route a 12km gradual ascent up to the snow lined town of Asiago. Here the road flattens and passes through Asiago and begins the fast 20km descent back to Marostica.
Roughly fifteen minutes from Marostica is the Fizik factory where all their saddles are made. Fizik saddles are used by twelve Pro Tour teams, with a special edition Arione made for the Rapha Condor JLT. It is easy to imagine making a saddle is a simple process, but this is far from the case. Each step of the way is carefully done by hand. Of course machines are involved, but at each stage the operator handles each product giving it a check to ensure the quality is as expected. From cutting the microfiber, stitching, applying the glue, fitting the rails. Every cover is fitted by 2 people ensuring it is applied perfectly straight and then any excess material is carefully trimmed by hand, something no machine can do.
"During the factory tour we came by the department which deals with special orders and it was good to see a box marked up for David Millar who was expecting some special shoes for the Giro", explained Neil. "To our surprise we also found a small box for Condor on the same shelves."