So first off, what is the Trois Etapes and why are they doing something linked to the Giro, a week after it’s finished?
Set up four years ago, the Trois Etapes was created by an organisation called Cosaveli to create a pro-am experience for cyclists while raising money for numerous charities working on incredibly varied projects around the world. On the one hand, the formula is pretty simple and generally goes along the lines of having teams of riders supported by a pro riding three stages with the backdrop of some truly incredible landscape.
While this may all sound a little out of the box, the resulting event is infinitely more complex and impressive however – and each of the individual locations, climbs and cocktails of cycling experience makes for three days of some pretty special riding. This weekend, the Cosaveli team were in the Dolomites to host four teams over 250km – and 8,000m of climbing!
The team rosters were as follows:
Soldier On Australia
Team pro: Cadel Evans, BMC
Soldier on Australia support thousands of servicemen and women who have served in Afghanistan and, while they may not bear physical wounds, have been heavily affected by mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
World Bicycle Relief
Team Pro: Songezo Jim, MTN-Qhubeka
World Bicycle Relief takes things back to basics, by providing people around the world with the means to create opportunities for themselves through using a bicycle and being more mobile. With hundreds of thousands of people racing the sun every day to provide for themselves and their families, a bike can make a huge difference – and costs just $147 to get to someone in need.
Team Pro: Liam Holohan, Madison Genesis
The charity aims to end the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that causes 5% of cancers worldwide. There is a vaccine available, however this is mainly given to young girls at present as protection against cervical cancer – though the charity hopes to extend this to boys, too; saving many lives.
Team pro: Anna Christian
Providing business loans to small businesses in developing countries where many people are financially excluded, Opportunity International help to make these enterprises sustainable so that they – and their owners – may flourish. 97% of these loans are then repaid, with the money being recycled to hand on to the next project requiring assistance.
With 31 riders in total the field was relatively small, but with team cars, managers, drivers, soigneurs and additional support, the full convoy for an event such as this is considerable. Everything is provided for however, with mechanical support, a broom wagon, timing provided by Results Base and nutrition, by USN.
Nestled in the heart of the Dolomites, Hotel alla Posta acted as HQ and was a superb host for the riders and support crew alike. It was also perfectly placed in the village of Caprile di Alleghe, meaning that each of three stages would begin and end from just outside of the front doors.
Day one was definitely one for the climbers with 3,165m of up punctuating a 104.5km stage. Signing on just before 9am, riders were then set off to embark on what was a pretty immediate warm-up which mostly involved some big, looping switchbacks up to Passo Staulanza. It certainly seems to be the case in the Dolomites that if you’re pedalling, you can pretty much guarantee you’ll be going uphill!
Similar to some of the big events such as London to Paris, each stage features General Classification (GC) sections where teams can pick up points to place overall and riders are also slotted into an individual leaderboard. This first GC section of the Trois Etapes Giro was a climb up to Passo Duran at about 1,600m which was mostly a thin, steep and winding road up through villages and on to where the trees had given up growing. Here, the winning team would need to get four riders up the climb faster than any other, with their average time being what counts.
Cadel took the individual win with a blistering climb of the 8.4km, 641m ascent in just 25:24, with NOMAN beating the other teams up the climbs to take the overall lead early on. After a fast descent, teams then regrouped to take on the second GC section up to the summit of Frassene.
Here, the tactics changed as the winning team would be the one to get their sixth rider over the line first. And as a result, teamwork was key. At 19.5km, the Frassene is a long’un but has a much gentler gradient compared to Passo Duran. In the afternoon heat however, riders were clearly affected by the sun – and the 2,500m or so of climbing already in their legs. Following the lead of Liam Holohan, the team of NOMAN flew up and were again the victors.
Rounding out the day were Opportunity International in second place, World Bicycle Relief below them and a minute or so back, Soldier on America. Returning to the hotel, riders washed down their bikes and locked them away for the night before grabbing a massage from their soigneurs and counting down the hours until a pretty impressive dinner.
Watch the stage highlights: