For a week, Valchiavenna was the centre of operations for a Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team that developed a very productive training camp in its territory, where intense work and tourist activities were carried out. In collaboration with Valtellina and Valchiavenna Turismo, with Giulia Guanella at front, the riders of the continental structure of the Contador Foundation have not only enjoyed excellent areas to exercise, but have also been able to learn more about their heritage and some of its peculiarities.
The Montespluga, the final stage of the recent edition of the Giro d’Italia U23, was one of the highlights of these days of concentration. The Hungarian Márton Dina, the Spaniard Diego Pablo Sevilla, the Danish Mathias Larsen or the Italians Giacomo Garavaglia and Riccardo Verza were able to learn in depth about the particularities of this great alpine mountain pass on whose summit, at 2,113 metres, lies the border between Italy and Switzerland.
Even the director Jesús Hernández, who is keen to ride like any other cyclist whenever possible, was able to discover first-hand some areas he had never had the opportunity to cycle in during his long career as a professional. The Moroccan cyclist Imad Sanbouli, a member of the International Cycling Union’s cycling academy through which the top cycling government encourages the growth of new talent in countries where there is not such a deep-rooted cycling culture or where its structures lack the necessary strength to promote its talents, has also been part of the bubble. This concentration has been made with the maximum precautions to avoid contagion by COVID-19.
“This concentration has been very good. Personally I have enjoyed getting to know new places, roads, ports… We are more used to concentrating on Bormio, in whose surroundings we have some of the most mythical climbs in cycling, but this change has allowed us to discover very interesting places and routes,” explains a Diego Pablo Sevilla with whom Riccardo Verza agrees: “Without a doubt it has been a magnificent stage. We have been able to work in excellent conditions in a place with really beautiful locations. We didn’t know the area very well, but any climb would have been a real struggle. Any climb we faced left us breathless. And then, of course, the tourist side was also very pleasant”.
The Palazzo Vertemate Franchi or the natural monument of the Cascate dell’Acquafraggia, near the town of Piuro, or the Museum of the Via Spluga and the Val San Giacomo (MUVIS), located in Campodolcino, were some of the places visited by a team that also had the opportunity to learn first-hand about the artisan production process of the cheeses in the area or to get lost in the many attractions of the town of Chiavenna, the head of the valley.
“One of the things that has surprised me the most has been the Lake of Como. We had a few days with great weather, so shooting around it allowed you to enjoy spectacular views, and left you wanting to take one of those sailing boats that were moored in some areas! It is true that this area has a little more traffic, but as soon as you get into a slightly more mountainous area there are hardly any cars. You can find short climbs with quite a steep and narrow road in every village near the lake. But then you have passes of more than an hour’s climb, like the Maloja and Spluga. And I leave with the feeling that we could still learn more about the area,” adds Sevilla.
Jesús Lucio Domínguez is one of the assistants of the continental structure, driver of the team bus and masseur. “It has been a very nice experience, a very quiet place, the whole area is very quiet, with very good landscapes”.
Filippo Pighetti is the director of the Valchiavenna Tourist Consortium, a region that for years has become the pre-season retreat for top-level basketball or volleyball teams and now wants to take a step forward also in terms of cycling: “Our valley is open to all sports, something that is confirmed from year to year with a greater presence of sports structures in our territory. The presence of a road like Spluga and the existence of other very interesting climbs lend themselves very well to training and are a reason for teams and also for fans. The arrival of the Giro d’Italia under 23 and the stage that the Kometa-Xstra has starred in are two of the most important events of this year for us with a view to 2021”.
? Enrico Caprio (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8) / Valchiavenna Turismo (3, 7)
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)