Alta Via Stage Race - Interviewing Francesco Gaffuri, latest winner of the Alta Via Stage Race

Inter­view­ing Francesco Gaffuri, lat­est win­ner of the Alta Via Stage Race

We will now inter­view Francesco Gaffuri, which in 2017 won solo the Alta Via Stage Race and is plan­ning to race again this year in the cou­ples cat­e­gory. He is going to tell us about his expec­ta­tions, mem­o­ries and train­ing plans for the next edition.

Francesco is 44 years old, and he is orig­i­nally from Como. He is a two-​wheels lover and has been bik­ing his whole life.

When did you start bike racing?

“When I was lit­tle, after a few years as road racer I tran­si­tioned to MTB races, where I found a more relaxed envi­ron­ment, switch­ing and alter­nat­ing between dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines, rang­ing from the XC to the Gran Fondo and from marathons to stage races. The lat­ter ended cap­tur­ing my inter­est, to the point that I decided to make it the main focus of my last five com­pet­i­tive sea­sons. Usu­ally, I man­age to do 3-/​-4 per year, both in Italy and abroad, in solo or in pairs, with my old Bel­gian friend, Elias.”

How did you hear about the AVSR?

“For years, I kept hear­ing good things about it from friends and on trade mag­a­zines. I was drawn by the for­mat: run­ning all together, eat­ing, sleep­ing in tents. The route has to be done using a nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, which for me is a new thing. There­fore, as soon as I got the oppor­tu­nity I decided to reg­is­ter for it.”

What are your most pleas­ant mem­o­ries of the edi­tion you won?

“Lig­uria is a won­der­ful land with chal­leng­ing ascents and equally tech­ni­cal and demand­ing descents, with the sea to the south and moun­tains to the north. The mem­o­ries that I have are of an inter­na­tional stage race, with amaz­ing trails, well above my expec­ta­tions and sim­ply mar­velous in every aspect. I remem­ber the atmos­phere of those days, one that you will cher­ish for­ever. On the first day, you arrive with­out know­ing almost no one and after 8 days you all end up as a big fam­ily, peo­ple who have become friends over the years. I also vividly remem­ber the com­pe­ti­tion between par­tic­i­pants dur­ing the race. Hav­ing ended up as leader after the sec­ond stage, I was forced to look above my shoul­ders, in addi­tion to the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. I am jok­ing of course, because in spite of every­thing, com­radery and fair­ness are at the root of this event.”

What are your feel­ings towards the 2020 edition?

“I am extremely excited to be back in Lig­uria at the AVSR, with new chal­lenges. This time I will try to do it in pairs.”

How are you prepar­ing for it?

“My train­ing reg­i­men to ensure the best per­for­mance for a stage race is the same as always: between 4 and 5 out­door ses­sions, insert­ing a 3-/​-4 hours long train­ing ses­sion which will increase in length in spring with the good weather. Focus­ing on sta­mina is essen­tial, thus try­ing to train in blocks of con­sec­u­tive days.”

With which bike will you race?

“The one cho­sen for this year will be a hard­tail bike, there­fore a lighter than a full-​suspension one, albeit less comfortable.”

Do you have any piece of advice for a begin­ner in the Hero category?

“A bit of advice for the ones who just started approach­ing this type of com­pe­ti­tion, apart from what has been said above, is to come well-​trained, but not fatigued; take a recov­ery period, between a week and 10 days, before the race. Do not under­es­ti­mate the impor­tance of your vehi­cle, which will need to be in per­fect con­di­tion at the start of each stage, from the first to the last one. Addi­tion­ally, is always bet­ter to pack tools and spare parts in case you need to repair or sub­sti­tute any dam­aged com­po­nents. Cloth­ing is a cru­cial aspect in these com­pe­ti­tions: always try to fore­see pos­si­ble extreme sit­u­a­tions and try to plan for them, if you want to avoid any unpleas­ant sur­prises. There­fore, be sen­si­ble and pack spare clothes and appro­pri­ate tech­ni­cal clothing.”

A word of advice to the organizers?

“Remem­ber that the Biker wakes up in the morn­ing and eats, goes bik­ing and eats, fin­ishes the stage and eats, then he rests, but in the evening he eats, and finally he goes to sleep, this for all the dura­tion of the race, there­fore the most impor­tant factor/​aspect is pretty self-​explanatory. Good­bye until June in Ricco del Golfo, site of the first stage, good train­ing to every­one who will participate.”

on 09 Jan­u­ary 2020
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