Monday, December 29, 2014
2015 sees the most CCC events in one year yet. Five events in all, including three new routes. This may prove over-ambitious, in terms of filling events : only time will tell. I explain below why I have included these new routes.
The CCC season opens in CORSICA – this will be the second time we have organized this one. The inaugural one was ridden by many ‘old’ CCC riders, who all agreed that the route was hard enough to perpetuate the reputation of any CCC , even though it has few steep climbs along the way. But above all , it was the sheer beauty of the island that mesmerized everyone. The charm is quite unique, spun by a heady mix of panoramic treats, pastoral poetry and the timelessness of the tranquil mountain villages. Of any CCC, this would definitely be the one to begin with for those who are thinking about it…
Next up is the SOUTHERN ALPS. I have decided to divide this most iconic range of mountains into two separate events. In 2016 the Northern Alps route will be on offer immediately after the Southern route, for those who wish to go for a back-to-back Alpine double! There are so many ‘unknown’ climbs to explore, by spitting up south and north we can take you to the quietest roads. As each CCC year goes by it becomes more apparent that it is the back-roads that riders enjoy riding most as the wonderful sense of discovery keeps us all smiling, as long as the iconic climbs aren’t by-passed of course! The first part of the event is spent mainly on the beautiful roads of Provence as we head over to Malaucene for our three-night stay there and the triple-Ventoux stage. After this pivotal stage we turn east and make our way up to the higher roads of the South-eastern Alps, often pitching well over 2000m high, and including some truly unforgettable climbs in Italy.
After a calendar break, the September CCC’s open with the revised route in the PYRENEES. This was ridden for the first time in 2014 and received an overall “thumbs UP” of approval. Apart from a couple of moments of fine tuning, the route remains the same : tough, uncompromising and technical. The very definition of the Pyrenees. For those who love their pastoral tranquility, the occasional ‘challenging’ road surface, and gradients that kick you around mercilessly, this is the CCC for you !
The second half of September sees the CCC caravan moving into Northern Spain to discover the legendary climbs of the Vuelta. Another new route and one I am especially excited about. The road surface, the climbs, the breathtaking views, the isolated villages all combine to set the scene for a very unique experience. Heading west from Bilbao, we never veer too far south, hugging the ranges of Cantabria, the Asturias and the Picos d’Europa and the infamous Basque ‘hills’. As well as the most reputed race climbs in this area that offers such challenging and diverse cycling, we also take you up & down some of the most remote roads we could find! This event also includes a very special stage where those-who-dare will have the option to climb over 7000m, including the legendary Angliru… The ‘sensible’ ones will find that the 5500m version will do quite amply! This CCC tops the 2015 list in terms of difficulty, but there will be options for shorter stages if things get too tough.
Finally, I have included another new CCC in the Cevennes/Massif central/Ardeche regions. So far there are few riders signed up to this event which I can understand: I knew this area would have less widespread appeal, but I remain convinced that it is a route that will one day establish its’ deserved place in the annual CCC calendar. The riding here and the (at times) foreboding remoteness of this route is quite exceptional. Most of the roads are just too narrow for the Tour to fully give this area the media fame it truly deserves, but all serious French roadies respect this area for its tough climbs and its wild beauty. The multi-day sportive “L’Ardechoise” is attended by thousands annually, providing a window for the uninitiated to this wonderful region. It may take a few years still for the message to spread far and wide : why not be one of those to discover these pearls first?!
May all your roads in 2015 lead you through occasional suffering to multiple moments of exhilaration, simple smiles, and fleeting glimpses of ‘glory’!