On July 4 2010, Cycling Weekly’s biggest band of riders to date took on the Maratona dles Dolomites gran fondo in Italy. Our group formed part of the 9,000 lucky starters from 60 nationalities chosen from over 25,000 applications this year.
A total of 270 of us braved the passes on the hottest day of the year to experience the almost overwhelming sense of achievement this event inspires. The organisation has always been first class but somehow manages to get better each time. There is an enormous number of volunteers there to help at every stage – from getting you into your start pen, through warning of hazards and offering mechanical support to feeding you generously on the way round.
Texts are sent immediately providing you with your split times as your timing chip activates sensors at various points on the course. Add to all of that an incredible photo and video service that allows you to view your exploits as soon as the following day, then the assessment of the Maratona as being the best sportive around is an accurate one.
Many of Team CW deserve special mention but space doesn’t allow all, so here are just a few:
16 year old Josh Guy, a young star at Gwent Dragons Rugby Club, took on the long course and was the youngest finisher; 18 year old David McGinnerty, now a veteran of the event – this being his third Maratona, who beat the writers of this piece by an embarrassing amount; cabaret artist Arthur Winstanley of Liverpool Phoenix CC who sang ‘Catch Me If You Can’ as he passed Mario Cipollini on the first climb and 64 year old Peter Sutton who hasn’t ridden a road bike since he was at school. He just does a bit of mountain biking, was entered by his son Paul as a surprise and then raised £2,000 for an orphanage in Botswana where his other son works!
It was fantastic to see Cipo. He’s typical of the ex-stars we’ve seen on the Maratona. He had loads of time for riders who just wanted to say hello to him. We too passed him on the first climb. It was a big deal riding behind a world champion – a guy who’s still in great shape. Though we had overtaken him this now topless, helmet-less superstar sailed past us on the mighty Giau. All he had on were his shades, shorts and shoes. It was a sight to behold and made even better by the two women in front of us who nearly fell off gawping at him. Not known for his shyness isn’t our Mario!
This is one of the wonderful features of the Maratona. In the 10 years we’ve been riding it we’ve ridden alongside Bugno, Moser, Fondriest and ex-footballer Fabrizio Ravanelli – not bad company to go for a spin with eh?
It’s quite simply an incredible ride. Don’t take our word for it though. Here are some of the comments from CW riders:
Many many thanks for the Maratona experience! I have ridden sportives and done the Etape a few times but nothing comes close to the sheer majesty of the Dolomites. A firm fixture in the calendar for me and the group which I hope will be bigger next year. To the extent you can even think about the next one, please consider me a definite entry.
Very best wishes
It was amazing but Giau was tough beyond belief!
I was delighted with my time, thought the whole event brilliant, organisation superb, weather stunning and scenery breath taking, we’ll definitely be back!
Thanks again to CW for organising.
Thank you for organising and definitely put me on the list for next year! It was a truly fantastic ride.
Thanks for organising this. It was the best ride I’ve ever done.
An amazing ride that I doubt will ever be beaten
It was best day on a bike that I have ever had – the whole experience was absolutely terrific.
I was amazed to meet another rider from my town on one of the climbs – what a coincidence!
I am just coming down from an enormous high – please sign me up for next year!
Just to say a big thank you to you and CW for making this possible – this was by far the best event I have ever taken part in and an experience that I will never forget (especially the Giau!!), being in the Dolomites for a few days beforehand and the race on Sunday were truly some of the best days of my life….. Chris Armishaw
Just wanted to thank you for all this – a wonderful experience and apart from an attack of the bonk 2km from the top of the Falzarego I got round OK.
Beautiful area and all those riding with me agreed that it had a far better vibe than the Etape du Tour or the Marmotte.
Thanks very much for organising the trip. I have done the Etape 3 times but the Maratona surpassed the Etape on all counts. I loved every minute of our trip. The location is stunning. I had seen the DVD produced by Cannondale but it was even more beautiful. My wife and sister joined me and were asking about coming again next year as they told me I WOULD be doing it again.
Look out for Penny Comin’s piece in Cycling Weekly magazine in September. If you’d like to become part of the CW team at the Maratona send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Official website: www.matatona.it
Team Cycling Weekly and some very big mountains. Click to enlarge
Peter and Paul Sutton
You can’t get enough of this scenery