- LA MAISON
- LA VIE
CARAVAN : PASSO DELLO STELVIO
Passo dello Stelvio’s switchbacks are to the road rider, professional or amateur, mythically charged, intimidating yet alluring, devilishly tough yet heaven-scented. From the images broadcast on TV at the Giro d’Italia and imagery past and present in black and white and online in digital high definition, it beams its magic far and wide. Could a man-made road be as beautiful as the grand duomos and cathedrals of Europe? Utter the name Stelvio to any passionate cyclist and you’ll see the sparks of devotion in their eyes.
People from all over the world come to climb its dizzying slopes, to propel themselves at varying speeds to an altitude of 2578 metres…from Asia to America, Stockholm to Sydney. A great test, and a major badge of honour.
Our Caravan athletes, pro alpinist skiers Alba de Silvestro and Michele Boscacci, are not unfamiliar with this giant of European climbs. The couple swap their skis for bikes during the summer months, and living just an hour’s drive from Bormio, where the pass begins its ascent, the Stelvio is a great training location.
But they don’t tackle this majestic climb purely for training. Michele often participates in the Re Stelvio hill climb event, a 21km test from Bormio to the summit. And, unsurprisingly for a world cahmpion skimo athlete, he’s beaten the ‘pure’ cyclists by winning it with a time of 1:06:13. Considering the pros race up in in just a little less time (the KOM is currently 1:00:56) you can see why Michele is at home in the mountains.
Today, Alba and Michele reached the summit together in less than an hour and a half. Watching them climb they made it look easy, with no signs of suffering, just a little bit of sweat and handsome Italian grit. Both cruised to the top amongst a circus of fast cars, noisy motorcycles and other bicycles. Passed by a couple of pro riders coming to get some climbing in the legs before the second part of the season, Alba and Michele kept them in their sights right up to the crest.
It’s a champions’ game, and they are true champions of their environment. As Alba says, ‘there’s only one difference between cycling and skimo, it’s just the season – one is for winter and the other is for summer.’
Despite the beauty of the Passo dello Stelvio, the excitement of climbing in such scenery happens to be disturbed by the engine noises, ruining the feeling of freedom and disconnection that mountain passes can offer the rider. Stelvio’s fame is perhaps its downfall as a riding destination sometimes. Still, like Alpe d’Huez or Ventoux, it’s one that must be ticked off the list. There are plenty of other options for riding in this part of the world too. ‘It’s not a bad place to train in the off-season’ says Michele.
Cyclists and motorcycles share the summit’s facilities, stopping to capture a picture or two of the breath-taking views below (as if your breath wasn’t already taken enough). Alba and Michele freewheel past the restaurant terraces and head for the best option for refuelling – the German sausage sandwich: fatty carbohydrates to add weight for the long slalom back down.
Extra layers and gloves are always required up at this height, as the combination of gravity and Alpine winds can often be freezing on the body and hands.
Michele and Alba push on down the Stelvio’s slopes with a rhythm that tells you their technique is well-conditioned from hundreds of hours spent in the mountains. They descend with grace and style, picking their lines and holding steady. Onwards to their next destination, Lago di Cancano for some extra climbing. For these champion athletes, the work is not yet done.
Étienne Hubert: Paris by Night.
Adventure is around every corner on a bike, even in Paris in winter. Olympic canoeist and Caravan member, Étienne Hubert, takes two kayaking veterans on a twilight tour of Paris.
A Mont-Blanc Gravel Tour with Etienne Hubert.
After the last few months of training and the Olympics in Japan, I find myself constantly craving nature. I’ve thought about doing a Gravel tour of Mont Blanc for so long, so this seemed like the perfect time.
Guillaume Néry: A Traverse Across the Pyrenees
Each summer, I set off on an adventurous trip with good friends who are up for a challenge. Last year, we bikepacked through the Alps and this year we tackled the Pyrenees.
Anton Krupicka: Farwell to Winter
It is said that the ride should be about the journey, not the destination. However, for Anton Krupicka and Hailey Moore, a recent trip in the Colorado mountains proved it’s about both.