The Col Collective

Event Training

Love the website and the informative & inspirational videos - you make it look so easy! I signed up for Santini Granfondo Stelvio in a moment of madness ... Nonetheless as daunting as it looks am very excited at the challenge. I plan to spend 4 days at Lake Como (based in Cernobbio) and then head to Bormio 3 days ahead of the event. Can you recommend routes/rides leading up to the event? Want to explore as much as possible however not at expense of the main objective - to conquer Stelvio. I have previously done training camp weeks in Denia & Mallorca hence familiar with multi day riding. Wendy

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for getting in-touch and for your comments on the site and videos, I’m so pleased to hear you are enjoying them.

You’re in for a really special trip, Lake Como and Bormio are stunning locations to ride your bike, and there are no words for the Stelvio, it just needs to be experienced to feel the scale and spirit that climb has.

There is an abundance of riding options around Lake Como to start warming up for the event and more importantly to explore the area. I’ve attached a pdf (in Italian but easy enough to follow) with several routes with varying distances and elevation around where you are staying which should be a good guide to get you started, there are plenty of routes to keep you occupied for the 4 days, the famous climbs in the area are the Muro di Sormano and Ghisallo which are easiest to access out of Bellagio. There will also likely be cycling maps available at the local tourist office, but to be honest you cannot go far wrong with your location.

Whilst Bormio is the centre point for the Stelvio, most routes out of there take you over a climb, so the route choice would depend on how much riding you want to do before the event. Climbs other than the Stelvio and Mortirolo which you can save for the day are:

The Passo Gavia - If you have it in the legs it would be a crazy shame to miss climbing the Gavia during your stay, this climb for me is on my all time top 10

The Umbrailpass which finishes at the summit of the Stelvio but takes a different route up

The Passo del Forno

Foscagno Pass


If you visit you can see the routes in more detail, you will of course also find route information from the local tourist office.

I really hope this information helps, keep us informed as to how to get on during your trip and most importantly enjoy it, take your time and soak up all the mesmerising scenery wink

Ride safe!


Hi Mike, doing Le Etape d'Tour 19/7/15, just back on bike after a bout of pneumonia, building back up slowly. Planning a training camp (Mallorca or Gran Caneria) what would be (time off authorised permitting) the optimal time before event to maximise benefits of a week training camp? - Dave

Hi Dave, sorry to hear about the pneumonia! First things first you need to make sure that you are back to 100% health before hitting the training hard. Hopefully the weather in the UK is on the rise and you can get a solid month of May in the legs. I’d be inclined to look at a possible training camp around mid June, this should give you enough time to find your legs and will also mean that when you return you have enough time to fully recover (prep the bike, make any adjustments to your kit and finalise your fuelling strategy). Depending on how you cope with the heat, Gran Canaria will likely be hotter (it’s also more hilly) at this time of the year so could be a consideration. Best of luck!

Hi there, I'm doing Haute Route Alps this August and have a couple of questions: I have done a lot of mountains up to 1500 or 1600m, will the summits in the Alps pose a massively different challenge in terms of oxygen debt? Also, what training do you recommend in the 1-2 weeks leading up to the start? Thanks! - Chris

Hi Chris. We supported a group of riders through Haute Route Alps last summer. It really is an amazing event and a great way to take your riding to the next level. In my experience of riding in the high mountains, some riders will be affected by the altitude more than others, and there seems to be no way of telling who will feel the effects more. Of all the many tours we’ve led through the mountains, I’ve never known riders to suffer as a direct result of being above, say, 2000m.The high climbs are, generally, longer, so a good idea to prepare for that by getting really used to longer efforts.To answer your second question, I reckon that your performance on a stage event such as the Haute Route really depends on the training you’re doing at this point in your season. Definitely keep the riding going in those last few weeks leading up to the event, but think about easing back on the distance. It’s a good idea to keep the intensity up, but with shorter sessions. Hope this helps. It’s a great ride!

Chris - Sorry, any chance I can ask one more? I’m trying to do around 250km at the moment on very flat roads. Does this sound like enough to you? I have 2 separate weeks booked in Apennines as well before the event.

La Fuga - Sounds like you’re getting the mileage in! Don’t worry too much about how that will transition to a hilly stage-event - the engine should be good. You can prepare for climbing by overgearing and riding intervals in a bigger gear than you normally would. The apennines are a great range of mountains - lots of the climbs there are shorter than in the Alps, so this is really a time to use a bigger gear for shorter efforts to build those climbing legs. Good luck for the rest of your training and we’ll see you in Geneva!

How do you advice to prepare for haute route Pyrenees? Eugeina

Hi Eugenia, when you’re riding for many hours and continual days back-to-back like at the Haute Route it’s super important to focus on your endurance. Going the distance (and enjoying the journey) should be the highest priorities. Start by looking at how much time you have available to ride each week after work and family commitments. Make a plan that slowly builds your weekly kilometres until you’re comfortable with what you are doing and you can still fit in life around it. Once you have that balance and you feel that your endurance is at a good level then you may be able to replace some of the kilometres with some higher intensity rides, but overall on these super cool longer events endurance is the key. Wattbike partners of the Haute Route have also put a training guide together at the following. You may be able to get some extra tips from there as well. Hope that helps. Good luck, the Pyrenees are such a beautiful mountain range I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time!

Relating to Mallorca, please can you suggest routes there that would be good training for L'Étape? And also offer some guidance / tips on building confidence for reasonably (!) fast descents / cornering? - Justin.

Hi Justin, if you’re heading to Mallorca then you may want to camp out around Port de Pollenca so you’re in close proximity to the climbs. The map to get (see attached photo) is from the bike shop called SportBequi in Port d’Alcudia, they have done an awesome job of highlighting the cycling friendly roads and also plotted a load of routes of varying distances and elevation. Very useful indeed. If you’re training for Etape then the order of the day will be to ride some climbs. To be honest consistent back-to-back days in the saddle riding mountains will be a huge benefit but always listen to your body and don’t forget that recovery is the most important part of training.

When it comes to descending here are a few tips that we hope will help. As is the case with water naturally finding it’s way down the side of a mountain the same could be said about a good descender. Think of your body and bike as one, try to stay light on the pedals and allow your bike to lead as you give delicate inputs. Position your hands on the drops to lower your centre of gravity and bring more stability and control.

Look where you want to go. Now this may sound pretty obvious but the fact is where you look will generally dictate where you end up so it’s important to focus your attention a lot further down the road than the rear wheel or rider in front that you’re following at speed. Look beyond the bend at the path you wish to take. Having a broader view of the road ahead will allow you to quickly react to things as they happen, such as a rider switching lines for example, allowing time to adjust accordingly. Your peripheral vision will still be able to spot a pot hole or patch of gravel but by looking further ahead you’ll be one step ahead at all times.

Getting through the corners quickly and safely is a key skill to acquire when descending. Moderate your speed in advance of the bend as opposed to entering the corner too quickly and having to jam on the brakes at the last minute. This will give you more control and allow you to carry momentum throughout the turn. Keep your outside leg straight and focus the majority of your body weight downwards through the outside pedal to maintain rigidity as you hold your line. To maintain traction it’s important to lean your bike and not your body. Start slowly and practice until you have confidence in your descending ability in all conditions especially in the wet when traction is much less.

I put a video together many moons ago, the footage is pretty low res now but the info is still valid. Could be helpful you can watch it here

Stay well and ride safe.


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