MOUNT ETNA BIKE CLIMB
Everything You Need To Know About Nicolosi – Rifugio Sapienza bike route
It was May 2011 when Alberto Contador conquered this stage of the Giro d’Italia, quickly burning those seventeen kilometers with an average gradient of 6%, marked by volcanic landscapes and breathtaking views overlooking the Ionian Sea from Etna.
In fact, with over a thousand meters in altitude, the Contador side of Nicolosi – Sapienza Refuge route is the most appreciated by the international cycling circuit, not only for the panorama, but also for the good quality of the road network, recently rebuilt after the eruption that swept away part of the high altitude roads in 2001.
The rides are characterized by curves cut into the lava, forming harsh and captivating scenarios of the sinuous shapes of the drystone walls. The powerful charm of Etna seduces cyclists, both for the power of the volcano and for the thrill of the stage celebrated by the Giro d’Italia.
Leaving the town of Nicolosi, headquarters of the Etna park, the stage begins with an average gradient of 7 percent that will take us two kilometers.
The coolness of the pines that make up the Monti Rossi forest awaits us, and from here, after passing the Nicolosi quarry, the track proceeds again for about two kilometers of slopes between 4 and 5 percent up to almost a thousand meters of altitude. Now that long black snake awaits us that for about ten kilometers cuts the Etna flow in two, illustrating the power of the volcano which on that occasion caused a great deal of worry for the inhabitants of Nicolosi.
The rides become more intense, and you can almost taste the volcanic sand mixed with the scent of wild broom that paints our passage with yellow. Now begins a demanding phase: for two kilometers we will face in some sections climbs at even a 10 percent gradient, and then finally slow down a bit near the Nuova Quercia restaurant.
This is generally one of the stopping points, useful for tackling the next 10 kilometers of ascent that from an altitude of 1300 meters, between bends and panoramic curves, with a constant gradient of 6 percent, will take us straight to the goal.
Fans of the Giro d’ Italia will certainly remember this. It was from this point that Alberto Contador pushed into gear which, after 7 and a half kilometers of pure emotion, and challenging the intense gusts of the thermal winds that lash the volcano at this altitude, led him to triumph in front of the audience waiting for him set up in the square at the Sapienza Refuge.