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HotChillee's Alpine Challenge Kicks Off with Magnus Backstedt and Stephen Roche

by Nick Gregory

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Today four seeded pelotons gathered in Annecy in the French Alps for an end-of-season, four stage Alpine road cycling challenge, pushing themselves mentally and physically along the 356kms of mountainous cycling with leg-burning climbing totalling almost 8,000 metres. 

This year, for the first time, Paris-Roubaix legend Magnus Backstedt joined the event. He will be riding alongside Stephen Roche who is completing his fifth successive ride. The unique event format of having formal timed race sections on each stage attracts riders from all over the world. Each seeded group has full service corps, lead and support cars, medics, motos that provide a professional experience with rolling road closures. 

The Alpine Challenge's route has been carefully selected to give riders a real insight to the tough Alpine stages in the Tour de France. It covers many Cols with some of the iconic Tour de France climbs en-route, including Col de la Croix Fry, Col de la Forclaz and Col des Aravis; a pass used 39 times on the Tour de France. Also included is the Semnoz climb used in last year's Tour de France and L'Étape du Tour. 

AC1
2013 winner, Felix Barker with 1988 World Champion, Maurizio Fondriest

Stephen Roche, Triple Crown winner in 1987 said "The experience of riding the Alpine Challenge brings back many memories and in particular the La Plagne mountain top finish in 1987 when I put myself back in contention to win the Tour de France yellow jersey." 

Historically the Queen Stage has been the final stage. This year however, the Prologue and Stage 1 both took place on the opening day, featuring over 3,000m of climbing, making it more likely than not the toughest day. The Prologue was up the Col de la Forclaz which in the 8.3km timed section sees gradients touching 15%. Based on this, riders were seeded for the 120km Stage 1, which included the Col de Leschaux and Semnoz. 

Stage 2 includes Col des Aravis, 2,050m climbing and is 115km in length. 

Stage 3 is another tough day covering 'just' 103km, but includes the classic steep slopes of Col de la Croix Fry. 

The dates for next years event is 9-13 September 2015, with Early Bird entries opening on the 24th September 2014 at 14:00 BST. 

For further details visit www.thealpinechallenge.com





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