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The great drought

02/03/2021

The photograph we have chosen this week depicts Davide Formolo – also known by his moniker, Roccia, ‘the rock’ – right after crossing the finish line in 2020.

He is sitting – or rather, collapsing – on the stone pavement in Piazza del Campo, after riding painfully for five hours on roads baked dry by the fierce heat of the sun, the torment and delight of the first-ever Strade Bianche to take place in August.

He is pouring water on his head from a bottle, while his soigneur is ready to hand him another one, and yet another.

Drenched in water and sweat, his jersey is almost entirely see-through. He is like a ship dropping anchor near the mouth of a river after a long voyage, craving to enjoy some fresh water at last.

That day, all the riders came home caked in dust and clay, as soiled as the Campo usually is during the Palio – the longest‑standing and most popular horse race in the world. Perhaps, bringing some of that clay back would comfort the Piazza after being deprived of such an iconic event that year.

Can you recall any other race as dusty and as droughty as that day? Have you ever had to use up all of your water supplies and look for a desert oasis?

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