Long-time biker, Francesco Gaffuri is 44 and comes from Como. In 2017 he won the Alta Via Stage Race alone and this year he will try again with the Belgian Elias Van Hoeydonck. We let him tell us about expectations, memories and training plans for the 2021 edition.
When did you start cycling?
“As a child. After a few years as a road racer I switched to mtb races, where I found a more peaceful environment, changing and alternating various disciplines, from XC to granfondo to Marathon to stage races. The latter have ignited my passion to the point of becaming the fulcrum of my last 5 competitive seasons. Usually I manage to do 3 / 4 of them a year both in Italy and abroad, alone or in pairs with my historical Belgian partner, Elias.”
How did you find out about AVSR?
“For years I have been hearing good things about it from friends and in trade magazines. I was very attracted to the format, you all run together, eat, sleep in tents. The route is to be done exclusively with a navigator, a novelty for me. As soon as I had the chance, I signed up.”
What are the most pleasant memories of the edition you won?
“Liguria, a wonderful land with its challenging climbs and equally technical descents, with the sea to the south and the mountains to the north as a backdrop. The memory I have is of a very international stage race, with spectacular courses above my expectations, simply marvelous in every aspect. I remember the atmosphere that was created in those days, the one that remains in your heart. The first day you arrive without knowing anyone or almost, you find yourself after 8 days as a big family, people who over the years have become friends. I also vividly remember the competition during the race. Having found myself the leader after the second stage, I was forced to check my shoulders as well as the navigator, despite myself. I’m joking of course, despite everything solidarity and fairness are at the base.”
What are your feelings ahead of 2021?
“I am thrilled to return to Liguria to run Alta Via Stage Race, with different stimuli. This time I’ll try to do it as a couple.”
How are you preparing yourself?
“My training sessions to better prepare for a stage race are the same as always: 4 / 5 outings a week, including a long training of 3 / 4 hours that will increase in spring with the summer. Focusing on endurance is essential, so try to train in blocks of several consecutive days.”
With which bike will you participate?
“This year the bike chosen is a front one, therefore lighter than a full bike, even if less comfortable.”
Do you feel like giving advice to a novice who will do the Hero formula?
“A tip for those approaching this kind of competition, in addition to the aforementioned ones, is to arrive well trained but not tired, then perform 7 / 10 days of unloading before the race. Do not underestimate the importance of the vehicle, which must be in excellent condition at the start of all the stages from the first to the last, then it is good to bring tools and spare parts necessary for repairs in case of breakage or various failures. Clothing covers a very important aspect, you have to foresee the most extreme situations if you don’t want to run into unpleasant surprises. So be foresight and bring spare clothes, adequate technical items.”
Any advice to the organizers?
“Remember that the biker gets up in the morning and eats; rides a bike and eats; finishes the stage and eats; then rests and eats in the evening! The most important aspect I think is understood. See you in June in Riccò del Golfo, home of the first stage and good training for all those who will participate.”