HotChilee, organisers of the annual London-Paris ride, the 2011 edition of which sold out in less than an hour when entries opened in November, have announced details of the 2011 Alpine Challenge, comprising four stages, one of them a time trial, that are promised to provide a Tour de France-style experience, which had its inaugural edition last year.
Running from 7 – 11 September, the opening day in Annecy, host town to the event, gives you a chance to find your legs with a warm-up ride in the stunning surroundings of Lake Annecy, where you may remember Alberto Contador put in a storming individual time trial to clinch the 2009 Tour de France ahead of Andy Schleck and then team-mate, Lance Armstrong.
The following day, it’s your chance to race against the clock, with a 10-kilometre mountain time trial in the morning that the organisers will use to gauge your abilities and seed riders into groups for the three, full-on Alpine stages ahead, the first of which takes place the same day.
The three mountain stages each cover between 110 and 12okm and like the Lon don-Paris ride will benefit from rolling road closures, motorbike outriders and lead vehicles, with support provided by a team of masseurs and Mavic neutral service, and day three on the Friday also sees an exclusive visit to the French wheelmaker’s HQ.
Former Tour de France winner Stephen Roche rode last year’s event and gave it a ringing endorsement, saying: "The experience of riding The Alpine Challenge brought back all the feelings of that crazy La Plagne mountain top stage in 1987 when I won the Tour de France. The most real it can get for an amateur."
Event director Sven Thiele echoed Roche’s view that the Alpine Challenge was the closest that the sportive rider could get to the pro experience, commenting: "We were blown-away by the response to the inaugural event in 2010, people genuinely felt that the challenging environment and the event logistics made the event feel very much like a Continental stage race.
“The London-Paris has a wonderful social network, and that is replicated on The Alpine Challenge. Riders meet many new friends and riding partners, they create new business contacts and they all share a real passion for cycling.
“There are no barriers to mixing and interacting and many participants of our events have become very close to all of the HotChillee events team. We have an even better event planned for 2011 and feel that The Alpine Challenge will surpass people's expectations".
Besides Mavic, the event is supported by adidas, Science in Sport, Sigma Sport, Cyclosure, MET, Regus, Cyclevox, The TriTouch and Sportique. Registration opens on 23rd February on the Alpine Challenge website, where further information about the event can be found.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.