This September The Alpine Challenge aims to epitomise the ethos of being a professional event for amateurs, in the rarified Alpine atmosphere of southern France. The HotChillee event has a cross-section of participants that also bear this out, by today announcing the participation of UK-based road professional rider Yanto Barker.
Professional cyclist and entrepreneur, Barker is also the founder of Le Col cycling apparel, and began his career as a cyclist on the GB road team racing World Cup events. Barker has ridden at 5 World Championships, is a former National Junior Road Race Champion and continued his career racing in France before returning to a UK based professional team in 2005 where he was best British finisher at 8th on GC in the Tour of Britain. He also won a bronze medal in the 2005 National Road Championships.
After a 3 year hiatus from competition Yanto returned to cycling and immediately got back to an international level, he also runs a business in cycling clothing apparel (Le Col) which has been growing since 2009. Recently 8th in the National road championships, the Welshman enjoys a prominent position within the cycling industry as both a rider and a businessman.
Speaking about his participation Barker is excited by what he sees as an amazing cycling experience, coupled with being a real challenge:
"I love the multi stage event concept that HotChillee has brought to the market with The London-Paris. Extending that to the beautiful alpine climbs around the Annecy area in France will be a great attraction to the sportive rider who wants to have an unparalleled professional road experience.
This is a great opportunity for riders of all levels to take part and share in the now legendary camaraderie. I have been asked by many and have decided to ride the flagged climbing sections full gas and see if I can secure the Chazal Climbers jersey in Group 1!"
This year's Alpine Challenge has been described as one of their 'best ever event routes' by HotChillee's Sven Thiele, with four exciting stages from 7th-11th of September.
Following their arrival on the Wednesday (7 Sept), Alpine Challenge participants can expect three truly amazing days of cycling. After an exhilarating warm-up ride around Lake Annecy the event will start with an 11.6km timed mountain stage for seeding purposes, thereafter come the three mountain stages crossing some of the infamous mountain passes such as the Cols des Aravis and the Col de la Croix Fry. Each day there is a flagged timed climb, of which the aggregate time determines the Leaders Jersey (male and female) for the next stage, all crafted to offer a Tour de France like experience.
Based out of the beautiful lakeside town of Annecy in the Savoie, the scenery and riding on The Alpine Challenge is breathtaking and riders will enjoy the benefits of rolling road closures, motorbike outriders and lead vehicles, whilst riding in seeded groups commensurate with ability and supported by a professional crew including masseurs, mechanics and Mavic neutral service.
Demonstrating that the professional / amateur ethos will run deep in The Alpine Challenge this year, some participants will embark on the event with their ultimate goal of completing the event and enjoying the experience. One such rider is Jacky Bernett. Dietitian and a fitness and sports enthusiast, Jacky water skied competitively for many years and also enjoys snow sking. She felt that she needed a new challenge and so decided to try her skills at road cycling, having done a little mountain biking in the past. Starting in August 2009 Jacky signed up for The London-Paris in June 2010, completing the challenge by riding 520km over 3 days.
In April 2011 she rode the cobbles in the Tour of Flanders, across 140 tough kms, and returned in June for The London-Paris 2011 - this time in a faster group. Jacky is now looking forward to the next chapter in her cycling journey by embarking on this September's event:
The Alpine Challenge will be a tough call, but to reach the summit of the climbs, see beautiful scenery and do the descents with the luxury of rolling closed roads, along with wonderful support crew and some good friends, will be amazing. I am excited but nervous!
Entries are now being taken via The Alpine Challenge website, for what is likely to be one of the most beautiful cycle sportive events of 2011.