International tour operator Grand Tours Project and Santini Cycling Wear have joined forces to offer ‘Stelvio Week’ – a preparatory programme for participants of the Granfondo Stelvio Santini in the Valtellina region of northern Italy.
This new cycling-focused experience unfolds in the week running up to the 2020 edition of the event on Sunday, June 7th. It takes participants on a ‘voyage of discovery of the mountains of Lombardy and Switzerland and their gastronomic traditions.’
From their arrival in Italy on June 1, Grand Tours Project guides will flank the Stelvio Week participants on the roads of Lombardy, Lake Como and Valtellina as well as the southern Swiss valleys of Engadina and Val Monastero, until the day of the Granfondo Stelvio Santini itself on June 7th.
The Stelvio Week is designed for cyclists that have a ‘good level of fitness but want to hone it still further in the run-up to the event and well as discovering the Alps and some of the epic climbs from cycling history.’ The programme also spans other services including entry to the Granfondo Stelvio Santini.
The Stelvio Week is ‘designed to solve the various logistical problems competitors may encounter when travelling from abroad.’ Participants will be assisted by Grand Tours Project from their arrival on Monday, June 1, until their departure the day after the event (Monday, June 8).
Day 1 – Monday, June 1st
After being welcomed at Milan Malpensa airport and a transfer to the first hotel of the week in Bellagio on Lake Lecco, the participants will embark on their first cycle of the week. Their destination will be Madonna del Ghisallo with a choice of a 38-kilometre route with a 1,000-metre elevation change or a 22-kilometre route with an 860-metre positive elevation gain.
Day 2 – Tuesday, June 2nd
The legendary Muro di Sormano awaits Stelvio Week participants on day 2: the climv is under 2 kilometres but with an average gradient of 17% and a maximum of 25%. The day starts in the morning from the hotel in Bellagio and will cover an 88-kilometre route with a 2,628-metre overall elevation gain.
Day 3 – Wednesday, June 3rd
After taking the ferry from Bellagio to Varenna, participants will hop on their bikes, bound this time for Lake Mezzola, before continuing all the way to Chiavenna, which marks the start of the climb to Switzerland. They will cycle through the picturesque mountain town of Castasegna and then head for the Maloja Pass. After 100 kilometres and an elevation change of over 2,000 metres, they will reach the finish-line at Saint Moritz where they will also spend the night.
Day 4 – Thursday, June 4th
After leaving Saint Moritz, the Stelvio Week participants will cycle on through the valley that is home to the Engadin Skimarathon annual cross-country ski race, and all the way to S-chanf. They will then continue on to Zernez where they will enter the oldest national park in the Alps, Parc Naziunal Svizzer. They will cycle until just before the Fuorn Pass at 2,149 metres and from there, begin the descent to Val Müstair and their hotel in Glorenza, a total of 83 kilometres with a 1,236-metre positive elevation gain.
Day 5 – Friday, June 5th
Day 5 centres around the Alto Adige (Sud Tirol) slope of the Stelvio Pass. Starting from Glorenza, it is a 53-kilometre run to the pass. After a break for some honey strudel, the group will then cycle down towards Bormio where they will spend the night.
Day 6 – Saturday, June 6th
After five days in the saddle, Saturday, June 6 is more about recovery and relaxation. That said, to keep legs warmed up, there will be a choice of two cycle routes available: a 33-kilometre and a 15/20-kilometre with, respectively, 916 and 250-metre elevation changes. At the end there will be some well-deserved wind-down time at QC Terme thermal baths. In the afternoon, participants will pick up their Granfondo Stelvio Santini race packs and prepare for the following day by selecting the right kit to suit the weather conditions.
Day 7 – Sunday, June 7th
The big day takes in the Granfondo Stelvio Santini, with three routes all with the same finish-line at the Stelvio Pass. The 151-kilometre Long Route has an elevation change of over 4,000 metres. The 138-kilometre Medium Route, on the other hand, avoids the gruelling Mortirolo climb, while the 60-kilometre Short Route has an elevation change just shy of 2,000 metres.
Day 8 – Monday, June 8th
After breakfast and goodbyes, the participants will be taken back to Milan Malpensa Airport.
Aside from enjoying a unique experience amid the lakes and mountains of the Alps, the Stelvio Week participants will also get to sample the local traditional Valtellina and Swiss cuisine.
Stelvio Week prices start from €3,450. The eight-day, seven-night package includes full-board in a double / twin room in 3/4 star hotels, guides and vehicles with qualified staff who will follow the group on their cycles, transfers to and from the airport, entry to the QC Terme thermal baths, entry to the Granfondo Stelvio Santini and a Santini Cycling Wear cycling kit.