Mario Cipollini notched up 57 Grand Tour stage victories in a 19-year career (Cipollini)

Chicken Basque Espuna, Olives and Pimenton Papria Served on
a bed of rice, Mushroom jalousie. No, these aren’t cuisines we picked up from the
latest episode of Masterchef. It’s what’s waiting for you at
the feed stations of next month’s Mario Cipollini Gran Fondo (21-22 April).

As you can see, this isn’t your typical sportive. As well as
getting to rub shoulders with the Italian sprint legend, you’ll enjoy a
pre-ride gala dinner the evening before the ride. The event opens its
doors at the Redwood Lodge, near Ashton Court, Bristol
at 5pm on the Saturday, where sign-on is followed by a slap-up three-course
meal (see menu). Interviews and anecdotes with Cipollini
and former UK
road racing champion Matthew Stephens will follow dinner.

The ride, which is limited to 200 people, begins the following
morning at 9am outside the hotel. Services on the road include two motorbike mechanics carrying
spare FFWD wheels in case of punctures, broom wagons in case the unthinkable
happens, feed station mechanics, coffee and pastries at the start and finish,
complementary pre- and post-ride massage, a unique finishing jersey and a high
quality goody bag. A Cipollini team car will also patrol the course, filled with the former world champion’s own bike range in case your bike isn’t repairable on the road side. Cipollini will swing between groups all day, giving everyone involved a chance to ride with him.

The route will cover 115km and 1,650m of climbing, with the gourmet feed stations at 40 and 83km. It tackles the region’s best known climbs such as Burrington Combe and Cheddar Gorge; the full route available to view here. Entry costs £100, plus an additional £40 for the dinner. Riders have the option to stay over at the hotel and prices starting at £65 per single room. Entry is extremely limited, so head over to the event website to secure yours.

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