Wednesday 19 December 2007

Wanna do the Gran Fondo Pinarello ?

I am meant to do a quick low-down on the cyclo sportives I do. I only managed to do one on the Tour of Flanders so far, so let me press on with others that I did this year - starting with the Pinarello event.

1. This is one of the few gran fondos in Italy where you have to enter in advance and state which distance you wish to ride.

2. There are slightly more people who do the full 200km course, than those that do the shorter 140km distance.

3. With around 4,000 entrants in 2007 this was the 4th largest Gran Fondo in Italy. (The Nove Colli, Maratona des Dolomites and GF Selle Italia had higher numbers.)

4. In 2007 this was the hottest event I rode - in fact the hottest cyclosportive ever - at 8am temperatures were around 20degrees - at midday when riding up to Nevegal ski station it was getting to 35 degrees !

5. You register (sign on/show your racing licence/pick up a generous goody bag) the day before. It is possible to do it on the morning of the event, though get there earlier as there are thousands of riders milling around and you may not get seen as quickly as you want.*
Also if you're in one of the front pens it may be a little difficult to reach your spot if you get delayed. Plus, with all the fanfare they have on stage prior to departure it would be a shame to miss that spectacle.

6. Competitors start in different pens - VIPs, elites and women are in the front pens - the remaining men are split into pens according to age group. Get there at least half an hour early so you can find your pen easily.
The pace is very fierce at the start with people squeezing through on all sides. Make sure you can hold your own in a bunch !

7. There are 5 feedstops - all are well stocked with food and energy drink + coca cola. The 5th feedstop is 20 miles from the end and only about 15 miles after the 4th feedstop - a bit excessive ?? When you see what you have to climb in between you'll be glad of that 5th feedstop !

8. Make sure your tyres are in good nick - there's a 3 mile section of unmade road (strada bianchi) on the ride up to Nevegal ski station.** There are good mechanical support services if you do need assistance.

9. The race HQ and start point in Treviso are easy to find - they are in Treviso town centre - near the Pinarello shop in fact !

10. There is nowhere to leave bags while you race so either leave home with just what you need (if you are cycling there) or leave the stuff in your car.

11. There is ample parking near the start in car parks that are on either side of the river.

12. Apparently there are showers - they were sign-posted but I didn't actually find them.

13. The post race meal is in a big marquee with a full sit-down area and a bar. I would normally have had a beer but after my 200km foray in blazing heat I was in no real state to take on alcohol !

14. Treviso itself is a nice town - abit overlooked with the more famous cities of Venice and Verona nearby, but I would recommend spending a day strolling around there. Also if you get the chance to do more riding in the area why not head northwards out towards the famous Monte Grappa climb.

15. Treviso has an airport just outside the town. Ryanair flies there from the UK. Venice is only about 20miles away too. We flew into Verona and hired a car - mainly because we wanted to visit the Veneto region. The motorway drive is about an hour - however when going in the Verona - Venice direction there's alot of summer holiday congestion getting through the exit toll booth at Mestre and we ended up getting into a 45min jam just to get off the motorway !

16. I'd recommend it because : it's a well organised event that is easy to get to. It's well sign posted, riders are well provided for during and after the race. The course is very pretty. The climbs are challenging enough but not horrendous. It's also a chance to pick up some stylish Pinarello stuff while you're over there !

* The 2008 edition will be on Sunday 20th July at 7am (long course)/7.30am (short course).
You pick up your race pack/timing chip/show your cycling licence on Saturday 19th July between 9am and 7pm at the race HQ. It isn't possible to do so on the day of the race.

** The 2008 edition will be on a revised course, in which the climb up to Nevegal will be on a different side to the 2007 edition. The new section will be undulating and will include a climb up to Rive di Valmorel and a tricky descent.
The horrible Montello climb 30km from the end will still be included though !

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