A new year of cycling is upon us and there are some amazing new places to ride your bike. Some destinations are essential visits every year such as Mallorca, Alpe d'Huez & the Pyrenees. But the following destinations have something special about them in 2018 whether they are legendary cycling spots or somewhere new for you to ride:
1. Haute Savoie
Why ride here in 2018: Home to one of the most interesting stages of the Tour de France in 2018 and the mighty Etape du Tour. While the area is very popular in the winter with skiers, it is largely unexplored by cyclists outside of a few largers climbs on the Route des Grandes Alpes.
What makes it special: Close to Geneva, this is an easy long weekend break with some incredible climbs and some great places to stay. The start & finish towns of the Etape du Tour, Annecy and Le Grand Bornand, are arguably the best places to stay in the region. The most famous climbs in the area include the Col de la Colombiere, Col de Joux Plane & Col de la Croix Fry but there is some great variety within a small area. Ride around Lake Annecy for a fairly easy route or take in a mix of climbs from long and steady to relatively short and very steep such as the Col des Glières & Col de Romme which both feature in the Tour / Etape and both feature plenty of sections over 10%. And finally, there is the gravel section which will make the Etape so interesting. On a plateau above the Col des Glières, the Plateau of the same name is so remote that the road has never been paved and the section with fairly loose gravel in parts has a slight climb and descent which will be very interesting with 15.000 amateurs rolling over it!
Ride with us: 6th to 10th June, ride the highlights of Haute Savoie and every km of the Etape du Tour route - https://sportivebreaks.com/etape-coaching-camp
Why ride here in 2018: So often a destination people visit only for a couple of weeks in March & April for the spring classics, in 2018 there are a lot more reasons to visit Flanders throughout the year. The newly opened Sven Nys Cycling Center offers visitors a chance to try out cyclocross along with all the classic road cycling in the area. On top of that, there is a new UCI race in August, the Great War Rememberence Race to mark 100 years since the end of the Great War.
What makes it special: Flanders is one of the great destinations for a weekend of riding. Go in the summer to enjoy the nice weather and ride the famous cobbled climbs of the area including the Koppenberg, Paterberg and Muur. Oudenaarde is the best base being so close to so many of the climbs and home to the Tour of Flanders museum Add in a velodrome visit and trying out some cyclocross for a great weekend of riding, all powered by a friday night visit to the chop shop and a couple of local beers.
Ride with us: 3 days, 3 road rides, a lesson and ride in the Velodrome and a session of cyclocross. Our Flanders Weekenender is packed with the best riding in the area - https://sportivebreaks.com/tours/flanders-weekender/
3. Lake Maggiore
Why ride here in 2018: Often over-shadowed by Lake Como and Lake Garda, the third of the Italian great lakes will see the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in September with a route that starts & finishes in nearby Varese. In October, you can ride the new Tre Valli Varesine before watching the final classics of the year.
What makes it special: Set within a short hop of Milan in the foothills of the Alps, Lake Maggiore is a stunning spot for riding of all abilities. Along the lake there are plenty of flat rides (the full 164km route round the island has less than 1,000m of climbing). For those that want climbing, there is the Mottarone - 20km at over 6% average. Start or end your ride with a ferry ride to get to more of the lake. Ranco is a great base for riding round here and there is some amazing food to fill you up after a tough ride.
Ride with us: 2nd September, UCI Gran Fondo World Championships - https://sportivebreaks.com/sportives/uci-granfondo-world-championships/
Why ride here in 2018: A classic destination every year in April for the incredible Paris Roubaix sportive and pro race. In 2018, it will be extra special as it hosts the finish of Stage 9 in the Tour de France. Ride it in April to get a proper appreciation for how the riders attack and survive the Pave.
What makes it special: Unlike the cobbles of Flanders, the cobbles here do not get regular traffic driving over them to smooth the tops. The pave sections of Paris Roubaix are farmers tracks for most days of the year and only open to cyclists around the spring classic. As such, they are brutally uneven and hitting one of the 5* sectors at full speed is like a roller coaster ride. The most famous sectors are the Forest of Arenberg and the Carrefour de l'Arbre but plenty of the other sectors are also tough. At the finish you are welcomed by the famous velodrome in Roubaix and a welcome beer after a ride in Hell.
Ride with us: 7th April, Paris Roubaix Sportive - http://sportivebreaks.com/sportives/paris-roubaix/
5. The Stelvio
Why ride here in 2018: The 2017 Giro showcased this classic climb with a double ascent & double descent. This stage was memorable for Tom Dumoulin getting caught short and then having to ascent on his own to keep within touch of the leaders. In 2018, there will be the first Haute Route Stelvio, a three day amateur race to add to the calendar of events on this amazing mountain.
What makes it special: This is one of the great climbs in world cycling. There are three ways up the Stelvio getting you to the summit at over 2,700m. Each side has its own character and it is well worth experiencing all of them. Bormio is the best base for cycling around here and there are plenty of other great climbs including the Gavia, Bernina Pass and Mortirolo. After a tough ride, relax in the pretty mountain town with it's natural hot springs and great Italian food.
Ride with us: June, July & September, the 4 night, 4 ride Stelvio Weekender packs in all the best local rides into one long weekend - https://sportivebreaks.com/tours/stelvio-weekender