What's Cool In Road Cycling

Dario’s Diario: Camp Stelvio

Predictor’s Dario Cioni has been climbing the walls getting ready for the Tour – literally. For the past seven days he and 3 teammates have been holed up high on the Passo Stelvio, riding the huge climbs as prep for the Tour de France – here’s the report.

Stelvio Training Camp 21st to 28th June
– Words Dario Cioni, Photos Roberto Damiani-

I usually try to take part to an altitude training camp before a big tour. To do this before the Giro is a bit difficult, as most mountains are still covered with snow and the racing schedule is already quite heavy. After the Giro, I was given the opportunity to take some days off, as my next race in the schedule was the Tour. After an easy week, I had the opportunity to train easy a few days before going up to the Stelvio with 4 other team mates, a team director and a masseur.

Dario got in many thousands worth of meters of climbing last week.

The team was accomodated at Pirovano Quarto Hotel. I have been coming to this Hotel for the past 7 years, so they know me well and I have made many friends between the hotel personnel, certainly a plus if you want to be able to eat lunch at 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, or get your jersey washed.

The hotel also has bike lockers, a small gymnasium and swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and more. The perfect location for a training camp! By the way, I also have a Fan Club here. If you want to see how it looks like go to www.pirovano.it and if you decide you want to ride the Stelvio, or the Gavia or the Mortirolo this is a good starting point for all of these. Then if you say that you are a Pez reader and friend of Dario they will make you a special price.

There are big hopes for Cadel Evans at the upcoming Tour.

My training partners up at the Stelvio were team mates Cadel Evans, youngster Matthew Llyod, Mario Aerts and Johan Van Summeren. The daily training schedule included a lot of climbing, as you can guess.

Johan Van Summeren doesn’t look terribly interested in the view.

The Hotel is at 2760 m.s.l. Or over 9000 feet, so it is high, very high. The first thing you notice is that you are really struggling to get enough air in to your system. The second is that it is a long climb to reach the top.

Yeah…that’s a lot of climbing. It’s a good thing the hotel isn’t at the top of that, oh wait…never mind.

There are three ways of getting here. The most famous is the Prato allo Stelvio side. 24Km and nearly 2000 meters of vertical climbing. This is the most difficult way up, but also the most rewarding. My times go from 1h16′ to over 1h30′ and I can assure you it is hard and long…

That’s just about perfect.

Then there is the Bormio side, 1500meters of vertical climbing in just under 20Km. My times vary from 1h02′ to 1h10′. A good side to start from. Finally you can climb the Santa Maria side, which includes a stretch of dirt road, takes you from Switzerland to Italy, and is 16,5Km long. This is the only side I managed to climb in under one hour.

You have to love a little dirt.

While I am writing this article outside it’s snowing, and this is the reason we did not follow our training plan which included a 6 hours plus ride with Mortirolo, Gavia and Stelvio from Bormio…I think we were lucky the weather was not so good, but we still rode for over 5 hours.

It has to be a bit easier with a group to keep you company.

The other bonus of this Hotel is that you can relax in the evening in the jacuzzi or sauna. The cook is also very good and the menu is always very interesting and tasteful, very tempting if you are on a diet. After the ride we generally had a plate of pasta and a dish of bresaola, a local type of dried meet, very lean and rich of iron, so very healthy. The most famous local plate are the Pizzocheri, and the Hotel has also a very interesting wine list. Valtellina’s wines are not well know as they have a very small production, but I can assure you they have some beautiful wine, like the Sforzato.

Once we go home it is nearly time to get our suitcases ready for the Tour, hoping that all the work we have done up here is going to be useful on the Tour mountains. Tomorrow we are all going home, quite tired from the training, but happy about the work done in the last days.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing Dario looking this good at the Tour.

I will not be staying home for long, as I will be leaving for London next Wednesday. I am really looking forward for this year’s Tour, as it starts in London and my team should be very competitive. I hope I will be able to accomplish my job.

See you soon

ciao Dario

• See Dario’s personal website: CioniDario.com
• Buy some of Dario’s own Olive Oil: DarioCioni.com
• See the official team website: Davitamon-Lotto.com

Gotta question for Dario? Send us your thoughts and ideas, and we’ll choose one (or more if we feel like it) for him to answer with each diary.
Send your questions to: [email protected]

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