It is one of the hardest, most challenging road bike races in Italy: the Gran Fondo Stelvio Santini in the Italian Alps. Following in the famous tracks of Fausto Coppi and Marco Pantani, the track leads over the two mighty passes Stelvio and Mortirolo.
Deep in the heart of the Italian Alps, Bormio with its 4,100 inhabitants is situated in the middle of the Stelvio National Park.
Giro'14 Stage 16: This morning at 8:30am, PEZ-Man Steve Prokop rolled out of the warmth of Hotel Funivia to finally live his lifelong dream of riding the famed Stelvio. A light rain was falling, the temp was -1.5C degrees at the top, and there were only 18km to climb to the 2760m summit - how hard could that be?
INSIGHT Giro St.16: Cold weather does a lot more than cool you off - especially on a 5 hour bike ride over three high mountains. Managing core body heat, energy levels, and actually racing, become a fine and difficult balancing act, as CTS Coach Jim Rutberg explains.
I first wrote about the Hotel Funivia a few months back when piecing together a week of riding for the PEZ-Crew to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. After a fantastic few days in Bormio, I can report first hand on the experience. This is an easy one to write because they really have it dialed for cyclists wanting a high level of riding and attention, and a low level of distractions.
Today, I instinctively awake at 6:30 am and know that it is a Stelvio Day. This week, almighty rains and hail have transformed the Alto Adige region of Italy from its typically suffocating August malaise into a paradise. The temperature is warm, but the air is cool. The sky is amazingly deep and clear yielding colors brilliant and rich. Such perfection requires a special ride attached to it. Now or never. Work be damned!