How we got there
Cyclist flew to Turin with British Airways. Expect to pay between £100-£200 return, which is slightly pricier than other budget airlines, but works out cheaper thanks to the fact that a bike bag can be included in the price. Easyjet and Ryanair charge £70 and £120 respectively to carry a bike bag.
We stayed at the Lo Scoiattolo, otherwise known as the Piedmont Bike Hotel, on the outskirts of Turin. As the name suggests, the hotel is superbly set up for cycle tourists, with a large lock-up-cumworkshop for storing bikes, professional ride guides on hand, and top-end Pinarello bikes for hire. It’s one of a group of five cycle-friendly hotels throughout Italy, with others based near Verona, Rome, Bormio and Cesenatico. Packages start from around £250 for three days. Go to piedmontbikehotel.com for more details, and try biciamoremio.it for info on riding holidays at the other hotels.
Our trip wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Davide Cerchio, bike manager for the Piedmont Bike Hotel, and guide Diego Donadae, who both helped nurse Cyclist up the slopes of the Finestre. Thanks also to senior guide Sergio Chiavazza, who drove the car for our photographer with saint-like patience, and Gianni Marsaglia, owner of the Piedmont Bike Hotel, for his advice and hospitality.
up these slopes. In the 1999 Tour de France, the Texan was wearing yellow after a dominant display in the time-trial, but everyone expected him to lose it again when the race hit the hills. On Stage 9 the finish was in Sestriere, and with about 7km of the final climb to go, Armstrong broke from the bunch at a speed that was truly incredible, flying up the hill to take the stage, putting him six minutes clear and establishing himself as the new master of the sport.
Of course, we now know it was all a sham, but as I hunker on the drops for the final stretch to home, I can’t help feeling a slight thrill. Here I am, on the same roads as Armstrong, doing the same speeds as Armstrong. The only difference is… he was going up the hill at the time. Pete Muir is editor of Cyclist and is proud to have ridden many of the same roads as the pros, at significantly slower speeds