Chances are, if you are reading this you are planning your season for 2020. This is one of the most exciting times of the year. Thoughts are not on the hours of training and inevitable weight loss goals but instead on the excitement of choice and deciding which great sportives you will tackle.
The sportive calendar has some classics that have been around for years and sell out immediately. These include Tour of Flanders, Nove Colli, Etape du Tour, La Marmotte & Maratona dles Dolomites. Over the past few years, three new sportives have emerged that are becoming just as popular with thousands of Brits signing up each year. These are Paris Roubaix, Mallorca 312 & Stelvio Santini. Then there are the even newer events which will soon become classics. 2020 sees the fifth edition of Marmotte Pyrenees over one of the toughest courses of any one day event with two ascents of the Tourmalet & the fourth edition of the Granfondo Lombardia sportive in October – the race of the falling leaves has been one of the last big races to have a partnering sportive, combined with riding around Lake Como which is heavenly.
We spend all of the cycling season in Europe researching & riding these events and sourcing the best local bike friendly hotels, bike transfer providers, local guides and bike rental companies so please get in touch if you want to discuss what events are best for you in 2020. Happy reading and we hope to see you on the route…
2020 Spring Classics Sportives
March and April are full of great sportives in Belgium, Holland & northern France mirroring the spring classic races of the pro peloton. We have favoured a couple of sportives based in Flanders as well as Paris Roubaix over the Ardennes events due to the ease of getting there and the passion of the local fans.
The Flanders Classics week begins with Gent Wevelgem. This is becoming more and more popular with international riders and makes for a great weekend coupled with watching the pro race the next day. The sportive is all about mastering the local winds and sheltering yourself in groups. The route is slightly rolling and goes over a couple of mild cobbled sections including one tough climb of the Kemmelberg. The route takes you past many First World War battlefields and through the Menin Gate in Ypres. On the Sunday Ypres is a good place to watch the pro race and take in some history making this a great varied cycling weekend. More Info
In its 29th year, the Tour of Flanders is one of the most popular sportives of the year. In 2020, the start will be in the hip town of Antwerp and the route heads back to Geraardsbergen for the legendary Muur, a nasty cobbled climb hitting 20% at its steepest section. All routes finish with the Kwaremont / Paterberg double loop before a sprint finish in Oudenaarde. More Info
Unique. Painful. Legendary. However you feel about Paris Roubaix, it’s the one event that every cyclist needs to ride in their lives. The pro race is the best one day race in the world with luck, skill and strategy playing a part like no other race. The sportive is a great replication of this classic. The three routes offer something for everyone taking in all of the 5 star cobbled sectors and finishes in the historic velodrome. There are plenty of good places to watch the race the next day including at the key cobbled sectors, or at the velodrome where entry is free and there is a small screen showing the action. More Info
202o Early Season Sunshine Sportives
Want an early season ride but prefer sun on your back and snooker table smooth tarmac to wind and cobbles? No problem, the last few years has seen a rise in great early season sportives in southern Europe in locations normally associated just with spring training. There are a couple of very tricky events in this list that could be your season defining sportive, or these could be great preparation rides for the High Mountain sportives particularly when ridden as part of a spring training week.
Quickly becoming one of the biggest sportives on the calendar. Demand for Mallorca 312 grows rapidly each year. The route is a closed road event for a total of 312km, with a middle route of 232km and the shorter 167km version. The ride starts and finishes in Playa de Muro where there is a great beach but not a lot else, though the hotels here are large with plenty of good facilities for cyclists. Options for this sportive are to either base yourself in Playa de Muro for convenience, or in Port de Pollensa closer to the mountains and in a more lively town. Get in touch early for this one as it will sell out quickly! More Info
To finish off the spring season there is the classic Italian sportive, Nove Colli. This event has been going every year since 1971 making it by far the oldest of the big European sportives. Like the other sportives in this group, it can either make a great long weekend break or can be the culmination of a week of spring training. There are some amazing bike hotels in this part of Italy including Lungomare in Cesenatico, Oxygen in Rimino & Hotel Dory & Fedora in Riccione. All of these have local guides taking guests out everyday to the beautiful hills of Emilia Romangna. Nove Colli starts and finishes in Cesenatico and the has a medium route with four climbs or the full, challenging route with nine hills and close to 4,000m of elevation. Ride with 13,000 riders from around the world at this legendary sportive. More Info
High Mountain Sportives
These are the big ones – the season defining sportives in the most famous cycling playgrounds in the world. None of these are easy, all will take months of training and go over classic climbs featured in the Tour or Giro. Due to the elevation that most of these events get too, the season is relatively short with the big passes open only from early June to the end of summer. From the Pyrenees to the Dolomites, these are the most classic cycling sportives in the world.
The most famous climb in Italy, the mighty Passo dello Stelvio is the feature of this tough sportive. For the long route, there is also the not insignificant Mortirolo to get over, 12.4km at an average of 10.5%. There are three routes, all starting in Bormio and finishing at the top of the Stelvio, this allows a mix of abilities to enjoy this sportive. Bormio is one of the classic bike towns in Europe with many great climbs close by – we highly recommend making a long weekend of this to include a ride up the Gavia and even an ride up the other side of the Stelvio. For the ultimate week fly into Milan and spend a few days in Como before heading to Bormio (packages are available for this) More Info.
One of the original sportives and one that has followed the same route for years. La Marmotte starts in Le Bourg d’Oisan and then takes in one Cat 1 climbs and three HC climbs finishing with the Galibier & Alpe d’Huez. This is a massively popular event with 7,000 riders coming from around the world. If you have ridden the Etape and want a harder challenge, this is the sportive for you. For the really keen, there is a time trial up Alpe d’Huez on the Sunday morning. Only for the brave! More Info.
The most beautiful sportive in the world. Without question. Every year around 1,000 Brits head there and rave about the beauty of this ride. The route takes in the four climbs of the stunning Sella Ronda before taking in some tougher climbs – the Giau for the longer route. This is a high sportive with multiple passes over 2,000m starting and finishing in Corvara. The only drawback is the distance from an airport. For a long weekend you can fly into Venice (2hr45 away) or combine this with some riding in Garda and spend a week embracing the best of northern Italy.
The most famous sportive on the planet. The Etape du Tour is the sportive that your friends and colleagues may have heard of and the only chance to ride a closed road stage of the Tour de France. Approximately 4,000 Brits head to France every year for the Etape adding to the great international atmosphere in the peloton. The route in 2020 will take in Nice and the Alpes-Maritimes with some incredibly scenic sights. Read more about the route and break here.
October is gaining a lot of popularity as the alternative month for a cycling break. It is a great month to ride in Provence, with the Italian Lakes and gloriously sunny southern Europe filled with blue skies and light traffic. In 2020, there is a newer sportive that could become every bit as popular as the spring classics of northern Europe. As the cycle travel season becomes longer we expect to see more great autumn sportives over the next few years…
One of the sportives we are most excited about in 2020! Quite possibly our favourite place in the world to ride, Lake Como combines amazing scenery, great climbs, incredible coffee stops, friendly locals and great hospitality. Il Lombardia (the race of the falling leaves), starts and finishes in Lecco with a 2000m climb up the Ghisallo in the 130km route, this should be an amazing event. Stay in Como at the stunning 4* Hotel Metropole Suisee, the perfect place to watch the pro race. This truly is a great way to end your season. Find out more about the sportive here.