The Bologna Time Trial route mirrors the 2019 Giro d'Italia prologue TT course, giving you a taste of what the pros raced for Stage One of the 102nd Giro. This meter-by-meter replication departs from Piazza Maggiore, the main square in the heart of Bologna which includes the Basilica di San Petronio and Fountain of Neptune, both popular tourist destinations. Soon enough, you will find yourself on the finishing climb. Soak in the sights, crest the hill, and find the finish line on the other side.
Remember these top tips for Zwift racing (most apply outside as well!)
- Warm up because the start is a hard effort
- Use the draft to conserve energy whenever possible
- Attack every punchy climb to avoid being dropped
- Know the route so you can pace yourself, move to the front before important climbs, etc
- Save a useful PowerUp for the finish
What follows is a detailed look at key sections of this route from the perspective of top A racer and TT specialist Matt Gardiner. Follow his advice to achieve your best results when racing in Bologna!
Lap Length: 5 miles // 8km
Elevation Gain Per Lap: 757' // 230m
The Bologna course is an out and back route, and races always finish atop the climb. Most races are 1 to 3 laps in length, meaning you will complete the climb anywhere from 1 to 3 times.
While the course may seem short, it is never easy. Matt says, "On paper it seems quite boring; however after giving the course a run in one of the TT events, I quickly was glad it is so short."
#1: The Start
With all Zwift races, it is important to be warmed up and ready for a hard effort when the countdown hits zero.
Chances are the hard attacks will be saved for the big climb, but stay vigilant as heavier, stronger riders may push the pace here in an attempt to drop the climbers before the road turns upward.
#2: The Flats
3.7 miles // 5.9km long
"Pacing the course correctly is key," Matt advises. "The climb requires every bit of power you can muster to not be slowed to a stop!"
The flat section is slightly downhill for the first half, and slightly uphill for the second half. While the flats make up 3/4 of the route's total length, you will spend approximately half of your time on the climb, so it is crucial to manage your effort here. This will let you go even harder when the climb hits and riders attack.
#3: Start of the Climb
5.9km into first lap
600m long, 12.5% average grade
Matt says, "In my reconnaissance of the climb, I’ve found it can be broken down mentally to focus on stretches of road where the pace will be highest: the initial 600m and the middle 400m."
The climb begins with a hairpin right at the Arco del Meloncello. Matt warns, "The initial 600m will be very difficult as riders look to force weaker riders off the back on the 12% grade, but the road eases off to 7-8% for the next 400m, and the pace will likely fall as riders prepare for the hardest part of the course."
#4: Through the Arch
6.9km into first lap
400 meters long, 14% average grade
This is the steepest section of the Bologna climb, and Matt says, "There is no hiding on this stretch of road, so give it your all and know that it eases up!"
If you've been saving a feather powerup, this may be the place to use it.
#5: The Finish
700 meters long, 5% average grade
The climb finishes with 700m at a ~5% grade, which may feel almost flat after the steep pitches you've just conquered. On the final lap, riders will be looking to line up their best possible finishing effort. Sit on their wheels and don't go all-in too early: this isn't your typical quick finishing sprint!
All of the powerups may provide useful here, depending on your strengths and strategic approach. Pace yourself wisely, knowing this is a long sprint finish which is almost entirely uphill, flattening only in the final ~100 meters. You've got this!
We hope you've enjoyed this Race Recon. The goal of this series is to explain the features that make each Zwift route uniquely challenging for racers. Looking for more? See our complete list of Zwift Race Recons.