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Les Veloistes Gentils 2013 Preview: The Italian Job

June 8, 2013

Remember these words ringing in your ears when you woke up in Girona one Saturday last June?

“Next year we should step this up a little bit again.”

Which meant we’d either be packing our bags for Tibet or the Dolomites this year. Thankfully common sense won – although it may not feel like that at some points next week. 593km and 13,369m of climbing await.

What we’re all promised, surely, is something very different. The first LVG trip to Italy, potentially enormously variable weather, some climbs the likes of which most of us have never even contemplated before, and some gearing choices that will make purists weep. What won’t change is the five-day festival of wheeled verbal abuse.

As everyone connected with the LVG is sadly aware, this year will be a particularly poignant one given the passing of Nuts. As a newcomer, I met him at the start of last year’s ride, he pulled no punches from the off and I’m sure he’s smiling up there now as I retell this memory. Just a few kilometres into the Col de Pailheres and I was already tailing and struggling. The familiar Dartford Motors support van drew alongside, passenger window wound down. Expecting words of encouragement, a blond Aussie leaned out precariously and hollered “Get on with it you f***ing girl” before closing the window and pulling away.

And then there’s Pinny. Or the lack of Pinny. It won’t be the same in that way either, but I think we’ve done Signor LVG proud with this year’s route, hotels and, er, organisation. Still, no LVG is truly complete without a chap with a 5ft seatpost is it?

Anyway, to the ride. It promises tales of extreme endeavour. It promises a church of cycling. It promises some bonkers Italian moments. And it promises all this:

Day one: 124km Belluno to Colfosco (via Passo Duran, Forcella Staulanza, Passio Giau and Passo Falzarego)

Four big climbs. Start as you mean to go on eh?


Day two: 136km Colfosco to Merano (via Passo Campolongo, Passo Pordoi and Passo di Sella)

The rest of the Maratona climbs. Couldn’t leave them out could we?


Day three: 98km Merano to Bormio (via Passo di Stelvio)

Looks like a nice short day. And it would’ve been if we hadn’t decided to ride over one of the most horrible bloody mountains in Europe and up 48 switchbacks. At least the hotel has a spa.


Day four: 127km Bormio to Sondrio (via Passio di Gavi and Passo di Mortirolo)

Tired legs? Tough. Two more monstrous climbs, including one Lance Armstrong ranked as the worst he’d ever ridden – even when he was probably topped up on his favourite chemical booty. We’ll just have camaraderie and insults to power us on.


Day five: 108km Sondrio to Como (via Passo di Ghisallo)

Cheating really: we’re taking a little boat in the middle of it. Then up a nasty little final climb, then a visit to the church of the Patron Saint of Cyclists, then to Como. Then to a bar.


Next, Tibet?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Todd. In Colorado permalink
    June 10, 2013 7:28 am

    I am so envious. Will follow you. Have fun. Stay upright. And may your carbon rims not melt

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