3T has finalized the routes for Italy’s first all-comers gravel event – the Jeroboam Challenge, which takes place in Franciacorta, in the foothills of the Alps in the Lombardy region, on 20-21 May. The event is presented by 3T with Giangi’s Bike Snc and the Patrocinio del comune di Erbusco. It is open to all comers for an entry fee of €45.
There are three distances on offer, all starting from the town square in Erbusco. The Jeroboam 300 is an epic 300km and nearly 5000m elevation gain. To begin with, the route traverses the Franciacorta vineyards, over undulating hills on gravel roads. As it heads north, it moves into the rougher and tougher mountains. The gravel and dirt tracks get narrower and rockier – ‘some stretches may be barely rideable’.
The Magnum 150 covers much of the same terrain but omits some of the high mountains to the north-west. This is obviously not as demanding as the Jereboam 300 but at 150km still a tough endurance test even for hard riders. The organising team notes that there is nothing standard about the Standard 75. Here, riders start on the same roads as the longer distance events, winding through the Franciacorta vineyards and the beautiful landscapes of the Northern Italian Lake district.
As wine buffs will know, the event names give a nod to the several sizes of wine bottle. The Jeroboam is the largest, containing 300cl (Magnum 150cl, Standard 75cl). Franciacorta’s popular sparkling wines are available in the Jeroboam size. There is the prospect of a glass or two at the after-party in Erbusco, whichever distance riders may choose.