In July, five Team Wiggle riders travelled to the stunning Italian province of South Tyrol; the region is famed for its Austrian-Italian heritage, its apple growing and… its mountains!
The team were set to take part in the 39th edition of the Giro Delle Dolomiti stage race; a seven day event, which takes in both stunning Dolomite mountain passes, as well as several peaks in the Alto Adige region of the Alps.
Keen to swap the hills of the south coast of the UK, for the legendary Stelvio Pass and Passo Sella, they headed off to the Italian city of Bolzano…
A stunning setting for a South Tyrolean adventure
"Welcome to Südtirol!” reads the road sign, as we roll into the small village of Andriano, at the end of a long day of travelling from the UK. This beautiful little village, based in the Merano-Bolzano valley, will be our base for the next 10 days.
We’re staying in the peaceful surrounds of the Gantkofel hotel; one of the regions ‘Bike Hotels’ and a fantastic little family run venue. They couldn’t be more welcoming, and after checking in and building our bikes (all of which travelled safely in Scicon bike cases), we spin down the cycle path to Bolzano to sign on for the event.
Each day, with the exception of the Stelvio day, the Giro Delle Dolomiti starts and finishes in the central town of Bolzano. Each day’s route then takes you into a new region of South Tyrol, and lets you explore the stunning scenery. There’s a competitive element, too: during each stage, there is a timed segment, usually on a substantial climb, and the lowest cumulative time at the end of the week is the overall GC winner. It’s a superb way to see the region, and to race!
Giro delle Dolomiti
I’ll keep my summary of the race quite succinct, as my team mates have all given detailed and superb accounts of their similar experiences in this great blog series – well worth a read! What I will say though, is that this was a stunning place to ride a bike!
Whether you’re climbing the Passo Sella, and taking in the awesome landscape of the Dolomite UNESCO World Heritage site; or you’re descending down the Stelvio pass and gasping at the Alpine setting (and the sheer number of hairpins!). South Tyrol delivered on every expectation we had, and provided challenging but beautiful bike riding in abundance!
I hope this video goes some way to showing the incredible riding we enjoyed…
Racing alongside Italian, Spanish, German, Columbian and Australian (to name just a few) riders was incredible. It was a multinational peloton at its best. Every rider fully enjoying the Italian sunshine and scenery that was on offer each and every day.
As well as thoroughly enjoying the views, Italian cuisine and brutal riding that the Giro Delle Dolomiti offered; Team Wiggle also came away with some great results from the event. Ben placed 8th on GC, and 3rd in his age classification; I managed 16th on GC and 5th in the same age group. All the riders in the team had a spectacular week, and it was incredibly rewarding just to complete the 860 kilometres and 13,000 meters of climbing that the event entailed for us!
A South Tyrol Sensation
South Tyrol proved to be the hidden gem of the Alps that friends and family had promised me it would be.
Each day at the Giro Delle Dolomiti offered a new kind of riding: new friends, new roads, and challenging climbs that left you gasping for breath at the top, both because of the effort and the views!
Each evening we were rewarded with a gentle spin back along the river to our hotel, and an opportunity to enjoy the mouth-watering meals that were served up there. The fusion of Italian and Austrian cooking that is the norm in South Tyrol is superb!
It seems that Südtirol has everything that a cyclists desires. It has great riding, great places to rest up, and (importantly) great food to recover those tired legs! If you’re looking for somewhere to plan your next cycling holiday, this region is well worth considering. I’m very much hoping to return in the near future!