Riding the 2019 Giro d’Italia with Garda Bike Hotel
Claes Westberg shares his unforgettable experience watching and riding the 2019 Giro d’Italia in true Italian Style and Flare
Claes, tell us a bit about yourself, and your cycling?
I live near Stockholm in Sweden with my family, my wife and I are both keen cyclists. Previously I played Ice Hockey and did a lot of running. We got into cycling just over 8 years ago.
Photo: Claes and his wife climbing the Passo Manghen
What really drew you to Lake Garda’s Bike Hotel’s Giro d’Italia package?
We’ve been visiting Garda Bike Hotel 2 or 3 times a year for the last seven years. We know all the staff who are more like friends. It feels like being at home when we’re there, we love it. Plus we get the five star treatment and can concentrate on cycling, exploring and relaxing afterwards.
I found out that Garda Bike Hotel was laying on the Giro d’Italia Cycling Experience in 2019 and had always wanted to the see the race up close and personal.
I knew Nicola Verdolin and his team would lay on something really special, so it wasn’t hard for me to make up my mind!
Photo: The small intimate group enjoyed riding the final time trial of 2019 Giro d’Italia in Verona before the final presentation
Tell us a bit about the start of the trip?
I flew into Bergamo airport, just north of Milan on Saturday May 25th, the Giro d’Italia was already in full swing! I was whisked off in one of Garda’s sleek vans to Lecco on the eastern side of Lake Como. I was able to check in to the fabulous 4 star hotel and get comfy.
I had time to get my Pinarello Dogma F10 set up with the help of the Garda Bike Hotel's bike mechanic and go for a short ride along the beautiful shores of Lake Como.
That evening we had an incredible dinner and went over the whole itinerary of the trip so we know what was in store.
Photo: Claes opted for a brand Pinarello Dogma F10 setup by Garda Bike Hotel’s bike mechanics for the whole of the experience
What about the riding?
The next day on Sunday May 26, our small intimate group of 8 guests got to experience some of the most famous climbs around Lake Como used in Giro di Lombardia race.
The first was the famous climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo. A steep climb and at the summit is home to a small chapel, dedicated to the patron saint of cycling and dedicated to cycling.
Photo: Inside the small chapel dedicated to cycling after climbing the famous climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo
Then we got to ride out to the brutally steep and difficult climb of the Muro di Sormano.
The climb is one of the most demanding in road cycling, with an average gradient of 17% and a maximum of 25%!
What about the Professional Race?
Having ridden up the Muro di Sormano, it was our turn to watch the professionals!
Garda Bike Hotel’s super efficient and friendly staff had already setup a huge viewing area including a gazebo for us to enjoy the race. With two dedicated vans, our bikes were stowed away and we were able to get changed and enjoy a full meal. We relaxed as the crowds gathered to watch the race.
Stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia was a virtual carbon copy of the Lombardia finish, with both the Madonna del Ghisallo and the Muro di Sormano climbs before the peloton descended down into Como.
The tension built as race neared, the crowds were cheering and helicopters circled above. Garda Bike Hotel had made sure we had VIP roadside viewing of the race.
If I remember rightly, Dario Cataldo (Astana) and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli) crested the Muro di Sormano ahead of the peloton which contained race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar).
Because the climb was so steep we got to see all the riders up close. The atmosphere was electric!
Photo: Watching the Pro’s as they climb the Muro di Sormano in Stge 15 of the Giro d’Italia
Was there more epic riding?
Yes of course, the next day we travelled north in our luxury vans to the beautiful spa town of Bormio, the day the professionals enjoyed a rest day.
We got to climb one of the most demanding climbs in professional road cycling, having been used in the Giro d'Italia stage race many times, the Passo del Mortirolo.
It was over 14 km at an average gradient of nearly 8.1%, with some stretches of 18% as the climb twisted its way through dense forest before opening up into a small plateau at over 1,852m.
There was some snow at the top and we had to walk the final part.
Photo: Climbing the famous and brutal climb of the Passo del Mortirolo, one of the toughest climbs in Professional cycling
But the Garda Bike Hotel staff looked after us impeccably!
When we reached the summit they took our bikes off us, we got changed.
Our spectator’s camp was already set up, we had the most fabulous lunch.
Photo: Garda Bike Hotel set up camp at the best positions on the roadside on every stage!
Stage 16 was one of the toughest stages of the 2019 Giro d’Italia, over 4,800m of climbing, the famous Passo Gavia was removed from the stage because of heavy snowfall on its upper slopes.
There was total of 4 climbs before the pro peloton reached the lowers slopes of the Mortirolo.
The Italian cycling fans, the tifosi started to gather and the excitement started to build!
A highlight was knowing that Vincenzo Nibali and had attacked Primoz Roglic on the steeps slopes of the Mortirolo over race radio!
The tifosi went crazy when Nibali came past, he moved up to second place overall on that stage.
Photo: Italian Pro Vincenzo Nibali passes in second place overall on the General Classification
What about behind the scenes?
Garda Bike Hotel laid on special VIP access to the start area of stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia in Valdaora.
We were delighted as my wife and I met fellow Swede Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ) as well meeting retired professional Ivan Basso before the race entered the Dolomites for a few days.
Photo: Behind the scenes VIP access: fellow Swede Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ)
Anymore epic riding?
On Friday, the day of Stage 19 we tackled the famous climb of the Passo Rollo which was nearly 2,000m above sea level. We were able to watch the finale of the race at the mountain finish of San Martino di Castrozza.
Colombian rider Esteban Chaves had attacked and soloed to the finish at was an amazing spectacle!
On Saturday, the day of Stage 20 we were able to climb another famous climb used in the race, the Passo Manghen at over 2,042m above sea level which was breath-taking!
Photo: We conquered the arduous climb of the 2,042m Passo Manghen!
What about the finale of the Race?
The last stage was a time trial in Verona. We rode out and cycled part of the time trial course. We were able to go to our hotel in Verona, shower and get changed.
Garda Bike Hotel had secured more VIP passes so we could watch the end of the race and the final celebrations which were amazing and another unforgettable highlight.
Passo Manghen at over 2,042m above sea level which was breath-taking!
Photo: Richard Carapaz celebrates winning the Maglia Rosa in Verona!
Overall, how would rate Garda Bike Hotel out of 10?
11 out of 10 for the whole package from beginning to end! The experienced guides were simply amazing and nothing was too much trouble.
The itinerary was superb and everyone knew what was happening each day in advance in detail, everything went like clockwork.
Riding the same climbs as the professionals used was simply amazing.
Being able to get up close and personal with some of the race’s stars behind the scenes and out on the road was out of this world!
I can’t recommend Garda Bike Hotel’s 2020 Giro d’Italia Cycling Experience package highly enough.
Their expertise and knowledge of the race is unbeatable. They know how to craft such incredible experiences and VIP insights, with some of the most authentic Italian cuisine and accommodation to top it off.
I guarantee you’ll enjoy the 2020 Giro d‘Italia Cycling Experience with Garda Bike Hotel!
By Claes Westberg
Watch and Ride the 2020 Giro d’Italia with Garda Bike Hotel
Experience the action of the Giro first-hand, taking you many of the key mountain stages in Northern Italy to see the pros do battle, watch stage finishes and be part of the excitement of the podium ceremonies
Garda Bike Hotel love when the Giro d’Italia comes to their part of Italy…the excitement, the passion, the glory… it fills their neighbourhoods and villages and touches everyone. They relish this spirit as our world turns pink. Sharing their love of the Giro with friends and guests is very personal for them.
It is the most authentic Italian cycling experience that have, right in their backyard. There’s no better holiday for the avid cyclist that appreciates the pro peloton and the history and culture of this great race.
Let Garda Bike Hotel show you their Giro! This is their 8th year offering a Giro package, with their experience and local knowledge, you can trust that they will provide you with quality hotels, smooth transfers, special Giro stage access close to the action, and of course, a cycling holiday that you will talk about for years to come.
They’ll ensure that you experience the action of the Giro first-hand, taking you to many of the key mountain stages in Northern Italy to see the pros do battle, watch stage finishes and be part of the excitement of the podium ceremonies.
And the best part…. you’ll be riding a Pinarello Dogma F12, with Di2 and disc brakes, included in the Package!
To provide this exclusive, intimate and authentic VIP Giro d’Italia cycling experience, numbers are strictly limited!
Register early to secure place(s) as it will sell out in advance.
To find out more, please visit: https://www.gardabikehotel.com/en/giro-italia-cycling-package