|Time at DuVine: 2 years|
Hometown: Cesenatico, Italy
Ride With Dalia: Italy and Switzerland
Follow Dalia: @mucciolidalia
|Bike: Col de l’Izoard, one of the most amazing landscapes in the Alps|
Eat: Ice cream and chocolate
Drink: Lemonade after a long ride
Sleep: A post-ride nap anywhere in nature or the mountains
Growing up watching her uncles compete in professional cycling events, Dalia was invested in cycling from a young age. Her pro career took off quickly and she competed across Europe, taking home wins for her home country of Italy. After a seven-year stint on the Italian National Team, Dalia put her training plan aside to pursue her passions outside of racing. Now, as a sports journalist and DuVine guide, Dalia is discovering a new dimension of her identity within the world of cycling. Hear from her about her hopes for women’s cycling and how riding has become her tool for self-expression.
How did you get into professional cycling at such a young age?
I had uncles who raced professionally in Italy and a father who was an avid cycling spectator, so they were my first introduction to the sport. My father was always watching cycling on the television or schlepping up a mountain to cheer on his favorite pros in stage races around our home in Emilia-Romagna.
But cycling felt like it was always around me: when I was eight years old, I made a group of friends in school who all rode. I got a road bike and started riding with them, and at 17 I decided to step up my training and get serious about my cycling career. I learned how to balance a lifestyle outside of cycling while staying focused on my training schedule and diet. I won a few big races and went on the join the Italian National Team as a domestique.
What was your most memorable achievement as a pro cyclist?
The greatest accomplishment of my professional career was winning the Italian Championship in 2013. I was 20 years old and just two years into my cycling career, so it was a big deal to even be competing. My teammates delegated me to take the breakaway in the final kilometers of the race, which was a bold decision considering I was among the least experienced on the team.
I said to myself: “Dalia, this is your day.” I was up against Italian pro cyclist Elisa Longo Borghini in the final kilometers, but the road conditions were compromised due to weather, and she fell. I had a 16 second breakaway off the front of the peloton and pushed myself to the finish line, taking home the win for my team. I remember being called by journalists for interviews and getting invited to events and still not believing what I had done! That day changed my life in many ways, and it put me on the map in the world of pro cycling.
How did you reach your decision to leave professional cycling and pivot to sports journalism?
After seven years of professional racing, my decision to leave came down to a couple of things. First, the lifestyle was catching up with me: the training program, diet, racing, and travel left me fatigued. The effort went so far beyond what I did on the bike, and eventually I just burned out.
Second, at the time I was racing, the financial opportunities—like prize money and sponsorship opportunities—were far fewer for women than for men. It became impossible to continue my career living off inconsistent income. While cycling in Italy is a respected sport for both men and women, the issue of inequitable pay was at the forefront of my career and affected my team. I considered how I could take my knowledge and love of cycling into a new career path and landed in sports journalism, reporting at cycling events around Italy.
How has women’s cycling evolved since you ended your professional career?
Within the past couple of years, women’s cycling has been given more representation on the global stage. More women’s UCI cycling teams have been developed, which means more sponsor participation, more prize and sponsorship money, and more media recognition. Now, women’s cycling is televised along with men’s cycling, which is groundbreaking for women’s visibility within the sport. Events like 2022’s Tour de France Femmes are pivotal.
I’ve also noticed men offering women a platform within the industry, making space for us to speak on the female experience in cycling. Women need more of this support from the global cycling community. I’d love to see women’s competitions combined with men’s races, for both visibility and equity within the sport.
What brought you to DuVine?
A chance encounter in Siena! I was visiting a vineyard where I happened to meet Valentino and Tom, who were guiding a trip through Tuscany at the time. I had heard of DuVine, and after meeting them I recognized an opportunity to continue cycling—this time in a role that celebrated the joy of cycling rather than the competition. Now, I guide trips in Italy and Switzerland, and it brings me so much joy to share with DuVine guests the magic of bike travel, especially in my home country where I wore the Italian jersey for so many years.
What is it like to guide in the regions where you grew up racing?
I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town on the Adriatic coast called Cesenatico. Within ten kilometers of town, you’re in the hills of Romagna—the landscape in the entire area is dreamy for cycling. I grew up riding all around the area with a group of friends, and we’d stop at family-run trattorias for a lunch of homemade pastas and our local specialty, piadina, before pedaling home. Many people from around the world visit the Adriatic coast from April to October especially, and cycling is very ingrained in the local culture and community. In fact, we host a cycling event called the Gran Fondo Nove Colli that draws 10,000 participants. It’s a great way to show off our amazing home!
During my racing career, I was traveling all around Italy to train and race, so I’ve become familiar with many of the regions. I now get to guide throughout the country, from Verona to the Amalfi coast, and many places in between. Italy is a beautiful country that I’m proud to explore with DuVine guests. My favorite piece of Italian culture to share with guests is our food! I love to cook and experience the cuisine of every region we guide in, and I find food to be a special way to connect with others.
What advice would you give women who are interested in cycling?
Focus on having fun and think of it as a social sport. Find a group of women to ride with when you’re just starting—it’s a great way to get comfortable on the bike and connect with people who share your values. Also, go at your own pace and do what feels right for your body and mind.
For me, cycling is medicine for life. Sometimes I can’t stay off my bike for more than a couple days, that’s how much joy and comfort it brings me! When I’m feeling stuck or when I need to process my thoughts, I hop on my bike and pedal it out through nature. Cycling is one way I nourish my soul, expressing and learning more about myself with every pedal stroke.