A ride to remember

Uri Martins

Jan / 11 / 2019

If I were asked what ride of 2018 was my favorite, I would pause and reflect ... In 2018, I had the great opportunity to return to cycling through Grand Tours Project. Undoubtedly an adventure that has allowed me to ride in many countries, meet wonderful people, share unforgettable moments along the way, make new friends and above all to make one of my most cherished dreams come true ... to ride the three Grand Tours. Of all those adventures, one in particular comes to mind: our ride with Primož Roglič, based from Park Gstaad Hotel. The great opportunity I had that day was unique. Sharing the road with someone, who just a few weeks before was the podium in the TDF, was a great challenge and a wonderful experience. Personally, I had many memories of shared races with him when I started my professional career: some in Slovenia, others in Europe and China. I was so pleased to see Primož again, with a consolidated professional career and a great future ahead. I loved the opportunity to show both him and the whole group of guests the roads around what has now become my home ... Switzerland, the Alpes Vaudoises and Gstaad.

That day, we got up early and prepared the bicycles for the guests, our fabulous Bianchi Infinito CV. We prepared the support van, with everything necessary for the guests, something in particular caught my attention .. energy bars, a mix of nuts, dried fruits and chocolates, all prepared by the chef of Park Gstaad, what a detail!

A little later when all the guests were getting ready for the ride, and while they were checking the bike position, the hotel staff gave us a delicious smoothie, followed by a pleasant welcome from the hotel manager, Stefan. A few moments later, Primož appeared, very charismatic and kind, greeting everyone. We started talking a little there, remembering and laughing about those crazy adventures and races in China together.

Before we all left, we had a brief introduction. There was Primož and his girlfriend, the manager of Park Gstaad Hotel, the marketing director of Bianchi, Claudio Masnada, among other directors of Bianchi in Switzerland and many other guests who would ride with us and would be staying at the luxury 5-star Park Gstaad Hotel for a weekend of cycling.

We started riding, passing through the village of Saanen. Later we went downhill arriving at Chateau d'Oex, where we turned left and started climbing towards Col des Mosses. Once everyone was all together at the top, we had our first stop. While we were enjoying our homemade energy bars, we witnessed a typical Swiss show, a group of people walking along the road, wearing traditional dresses, carrying and ringing giant bells. After that we started our descent towards Aigle, where we took some pictures in front of the beautiful Aigle Castle, a well known and important tourist destination, sitting right in the middle of the terraced vineyards of Lavaux, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

We started uphill on a long climb to Villars-sur-Ollon. This road, known by many pros, is part of the history of Tour de Suisse and Tour de Romandie. On this occasion, we decided to climb a parallel route to the main road, enjoying a road without traffic, with beautiful views, and through a cool forest. For me, it was an honor to show all the members of the group Villars-Chesières, since apart from being the place where I live, it is the place where Grand Tours Project is based. When we reached our destination, Keith (founder of Grand Tours Project), his wife, and their family were already waiting for us with a fabulous picnic lunch, located at the GTP headquarters. We enjoyed a spectacular lunch with incredible views of the Alps and Lac Léman. It was there that we began to share and interact even more among all the guests, friends and Primož.

After recovering strength and energy, we started our journey with the ascent to Col de la Croix from Villars. This is my favorite climb in the area and is well known for one of the most incredible views of the Alps. We then descended to Diablerèts, where we drank fresh water directly from the fountains that are everywhere. From there we could observe the Glacier 3000, just above the glorious mountains around us. Once at the top of Col du Pillon, we regrouped and decided to take the road downhill, "full gas" as if it were a race, until arriving at Park Gstaad, as a finish line!

Back at the hotel, we were given a wonderful welcome. Refreshing towels with washing lotion, juices and delicious drinks, as well as a round of applause for everyone for having completed a demanding road.

At that point I couldn't stop smiling, happy to have been able to show the guests my home and favorite roads. It had been an unforgettable day in the company of everyone.

Everyone in the race thoroughly enjoyed their day, particularly our colleagues, having witnessed the realization and success of our union between Grand Tours Project with the luxury 5* Park Gstaad Hotel, Team Jumbovisma_road, Primož Roglič and Bianchi, offering an exclusive and amazing ride on one of our favorite routes at home.