Things are heating up. Three high-altitude mountain stages on the trot, then a well-earnt rest day before a stage across the plains, another two high mountain stages and a final time trial on the 29th. The Giro-E enters its last thrilling week: it kicks off with today’s stage – with a 4-star difficulty rating – which transits from Aosta to Cogne, covering 60 kilometres and a taxing 2400 meters of elevation gain. This is no stroll in the park.
The Aosta – Cogne stage
Fourth time lucky: a three-time Giro d’Italia stage finish town (1970, Bitossi winner, 1973 Eddy Merckx, 1996 Gianni Bugno), Aosta is now the 12th starting point for this year’s Giro-E. Stage 12 sees the riders take on some serious climbing and cover a total of 60 kilometres before arriving at Cogne for an uphill finish worthy of the most thoroughbred grimpeur: definitely not a slouch-on-the-couch Sunday.
Aosta is decidedly bicycle-friendly. It’s currently developing the Aosta by Bike project, which envisages a 15-kilometre cycle path network that links to inter-town bike tracks and meshes with park-n-ride schemes and cycle mobility support services. The aim? To encourage cycling as a sustainable mode of urban transport. And here, if you’re looking for ways to replenish the energy spent in the saddle, you’re spoilt for choice: popular traditional produce includes Fontina, Fromdzo, Jambon de Bosses and Lard d’Arnad; and the local wine scene is enjoying something of a renaissance too.
So, after pushing themselves hard, the riders can now look forward to a deserved rest day. Which they’d be well advised to spend… resting!
Rider of the day – Marco Albarello
Between 1992 and 1998 Aosta-born Marco Albarello won an Olympic gold, three silvers and a bronze in cross-country skiing. He’s also won four World Championship medals, one of them gold (1987). When his career came to an end, he became head coach of the Italian Nordic ski team’s cross-country segment.
“I really enjoyed cycling as a youngster but when I joined the national ski squad I had to get serious about the training”, he says. “So I put it aside, also because here in the Aosta Valley, it’s all climbs. I live in Courmayeur, so whereover I ride I’m always starting off downhill… the problem is that I have to pedal back up again. I’m now really into mountain biking, and generally stay off the tarmac, as I know exactly where to find all the best trails and the most stunning views. E-MTBs have opened up routes that could previously only have been hiked, gifting me endless hours of fun. The most challenging climbs I’ve done were on the Giro del Mont Blanc, which I’ve done on an e-bike and, before that, on a conventional bike. Valle d’Aosta is so cycling-friendly. The roads are just as they should be, the scenery spectacular, and cycling just seems to get more popular every year. The Aosta Valley may be small, but it’s ultra-sporty. Cycling’s always been part of our DNA, as has just about every other sport”.
Next update on Tuesday, stage 13 of Giro-E, from Edolo to Aprica.
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