The 2011 Alpine Challenge finished in Annecy on Sunday under clear blue skies and with riders experiencing temperatures of over 30 degrees.
Following the same innovative format as The London-Paris, the riders faced 4 stages, held over 3 days and covering famed climbs including the Col Des Aravis, Col de la Forclaz and Col de la Croix Fry.
Each day, the timed hill section decided the holder of the king and queen of the mountains, whom were awarded red and pink Le Marq jerseys respectively. The competition was hard fought each day with some fast climbing and top action.
Early leader of the King of the Mountains was professional Yanto Barker. He was challenged particularly by journalist Jered Gruber. Barker just edged the first 2 days, before television commitments took him out of the contest, leaving Gruber to secure the jersey on the final tough climb.
Mother of three, Kelli Bayliss impressed everyone with her riding style and consistency in the mountains. Riding in group one on many of the climbs, she secured the Queen of the Mountains, with an impressive pace on the final Col de la Croix Fry which lived up to its name with temperatures topping 30 degrees on its exposed slopes.
The riders enjoyed a full rolling road closure on route, support from the mythical Mavic Service cars and a host of other added features including some fantastic goodie bags provided by Chain Reaction.
Triple winner Stephen Roche rode the event and looking forward to the 25th anniversary of his Tour De France win he said; I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 3 days with the participants in The Alpine Challenge. The camaraderie, the scenery and the format made the event fantastic and I am looking forward to returning next year as part of my 25th anniversary celebration of winning the triple.
The Alpine Challenge attracted some great new partners and sponsors. Chain Reaction started their relationship with great support of the event, Le Marq, a new clothing brand by Le Col, Wattbike were on hand to demonstrate the benefits of training on their machines and set a challenge on the final day as the official training partner, and finally Blacksheep provided the official timing.
Sven Thiele of HotChillee said That was a tough challenge, but standing here at the finish with everyone laughing, smiling and congratulating each other makes this worthwhile. I rode the route, so I know what pain these riders went though to achieve an incredible challenge. Our team at HotChillee will now work on building an even more dynamic and ambitious event for 2012.
Based out of the beautiful lakeside town of Annecy in the Savoie, the scenery and riding on The Alpine Challenge is breathtaking, with riders enjoying the benefits of rolling road closures, motorbike outriders and lead vehicles whilst riding in groups of similar ability and supported by a professional crew including masseurs, mechanics and Mavic neutral service.
The event provided the opportunity to ride a series of mountain stages (approximately 110-120km per day), and is created to offer a 'Tour de France'-like experience.
Following a stunning warm-up ride around Lake Annecy on arrival, the event started with a 10km timed mountain stage which was used to seed riders into the appropriate groups. Three mountain stages then followed, crossing some of the infamous mountain stages such as the Cols des Aravis.