Athletica Vaticana, a Vatican sports association founded in 2019 and recognized by the International Cycling Union in 2021, was once again present at the World Cycling Championships, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland, August 3 to 13, 2023. The “Pope’s team” pedaled spiritually across a “sports bridge” linking Glasgow and Lisbon, where the Pope visited from August 2 to 6 for World Youth Day.
Rien Schuurhuis performed the elite men’s road race from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The forty-year-old Dutchman, a former semi-professional racer, competed for the second time at the world championships under the Vatican banner.
He is married to Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro.
“We’re going to Glasgow to promote important values such as fraternity and inclusion through cycling, not just in words,” says the athlete. His testimonial was released by the Holy See press office, in which he also recalls the previous edition of the event.
Tips from the pros
“In Australia, I had the privilege of being the first rider on the start line. On my right was the reigning world champion, France’s Julian Alaphilippe, and on my left the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, who would go on to win the race,” he reports. The then world champion gave him a tip: “The race would be tight from the start, and the speed on the first climb would be sustained.” Aware of this, Rien Schuurhuis was able to regulate his efforts. “Thanks to Alaphilippe’s suggestions, I was even able to launch a small breakaway.”
His white and yellow bike — donated by Pinarello — will now be auctioned off in aid of the “Saint Martha” pediatric dispensary, which helps 500 poor families with young children.
At the beginning of July, Athletica Vaticana gave children whose parents had emigrated to Italy the chance to pedal the Vatican cobblestones for the first time.
Two other cyclists, Rino Alberto Bellapadrona and Marcus Bergmann, rode under the Vatican colors.