Just like on the major occasions when it hosts the Giro d’Italia, the Colle delle Finestre’s surface has been prepared and rolled specifically for the second edition of the Gran Fondo La Marmotte – Sestriere – Colle delle Finestre, on Sunday 24 July, the amateur cycling event organised by RCS Sport/RCS Active Team.
All participants will have the privilege of climbing the full 18.5km of the Colle delle Finestre, which has become world famous for its final 7.8km of gravel road that has hosted the professional riders of the corsa rosa three times. Last year, the Giro d’Italia stage ending at Sestriere was won by Fabio Aru, who has spent the recent months on the Piemonte mountains, training for the Tour de France. “Riding the last kilometers on the road to Sestriere always gives me unique emotions. Every time I pass there by bike, I shudder. As I have said several times also to my teammates, to win the Giro d’Italia stage in Sestriere was something magical. Sometimes I like to search for videos on the internet to watch my victory in Sestriere,” explains Astana Pro Team’s Sardinian climber. “Last summer, when I was training for the Vuelta, I did all the Colle delle Finestre, and this year I have climbed a part of it: it definitely remains in my heart.”
The granfondo’s entire climb to the top of the Giro d’Italia 2015 Cima Coppi – the Giro’s highest peak – will be timed so that all the riders will know their ascent time and can compare it with those of the professional riders. The Gran Fondo La Marmotte will offer the choice of two routes. For those who are less fit or who prefer shorter distances there is the Medio Fondo: a descent from Sestriere to Susa, followed by the climb of Colle delle Finestre, the descent towards Pourrieres, and finally the climb to Sestriere, for a total of 93km and 2,400 meters of vertical elevation. The bravest riders can opt for the Gran Fondo that continues after the final climb of the Medio Fondo in Sestriere, descending to Cesana and then facing a final climb from that side of Sestriere, for a total of 117.7 km with a total climb of 3,100 meters.
More than 1,000 applications having been received by the organization, with around 100 participants from France, Belgium, Slovakia, Norway and the United States. Forty brave women (including seven from outside Italy) will compete in the Gran Fondo. Overall, there will be 12 Italian regions represented on Sunday, with a strong participation by amateurs from the Piedmont region (30%), followed by Lombardy (25%), Tuscany (15%), Liguria (10%) and Veneto (5%) along with Emilia, Trentino Alto Adige, Marche, Valle d’Aosta, Umbria, Abruzzo and Sardinia.
Race numbers, chips and race bags can be collected at the Palazzetto dello Sports (Sports Hall) in Via Azzurri d’Italia in Sestriere, from 10:00 to 19:00 on Saturday 23 July. The Palazzetto is located 300 meters from the start and finish line, and will be the venue for both the pasta party and the awards ceremony – and is where riders will find the locker rooms and showers.