All it takes is posting a simple picture to Facebook to cause COVID controversy nowadays.

Alassio, Italy deputy mayor Angelo Galtieri stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy when he posted a seemingly benign picture on Facebook of cyclists ready to start Gran Fondo Alassio on Sunday 18 October.

After Galtieri posted the picture of a big pack of obviously non-socially distanced riders staging for the start of the gran fondo, Facebook erupted with harsh criticism aimed at the city’s decision to host the race during the pandemic.

The most angry comments came from people upset with the event occurring when bars and restaurants are now forced to close early and private dinners, weddings and funerals are limited to a maximum of six people.

One person  jokingly suggested weddings should be organized on a bicycles.

By flagrantly not following Italy’s social distance and mask rules, amateur gran fondo events now risk being label “provocative gatherings” and banned in the face of rising Italian COVID19 cases.

But Facebook unrest did not stop the 300 Italian gran fondo riders from starting the 106km gran fondo and 65km medio fondo races as planned.

Italian Ricardo Pichetta won the Men’s gran fondo with a time of 3:12:33 and Mara Manfredi finished in 3:43:07 to win the Women’s gran fondo.

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