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World cycling capital

You can emulate the efforts of Cunego and Simoni, Cipollini and Garzelli on the slopes of the Stelvio Pass (2758 m) and the Foscagno Pass during the 14th leg of the 88th Giro d'Italia. Or follow the tracks of Meirhaege e Paulissen along the course of the World Mountain and Trail Bike Championship slated for August 30 - September 4. The summer of 2005 consecrates Livigno as the world capital of biking, whether street, trail or mountain, and not only because of the international events host-ed here. Livigno has earned its fame as two-wheeler paradise thanks to the services it has organized for competitive and amateur cyclists alike. Plus, here you can change itineraries every day, taking in new places and panoramas. When you return to your hotel in the evening, the rest of the family can tell you how they passed their time with the many activities offered by Lungolivigno Hotel.

HOTELS FOR BIKER
The first piece of news for 2005 is the birth of Bike Hotels Livigno, an organization of three and four star hotels attuned to the needs of cyclists. They offer services made to measure for bikers such as bike storage and conventions with stores that sell spare parts and make repairs. Also available are ways to relax at the end of a day in the saddle, such as saunas and massages. Obviously, the Hotel Concordia could not fail to be on the list, as it is a Livigno pioneer in this field, classified as Bike Hotel since 1190's. It is joined by the Hotel Parè, which provides tired cyclists with the chance to relax in a large indoor swimming pool. After a day of pedaling, guests find a welcoming room, healthy menus and a wellness center complete with pool, sauna and masseurs to smooth out tensions and cramps. The two Lungolivigno hotels offers stays of seven or three days that in-clude a guided tour by one of the Giacomelli brothers, Fabio, Matteo, Paolo or Daniel, all expert bikers and creators of many of Livigno's finest trails high up on the alpine ridges.

TOUR OF THREE NATIONS
Also new this year is the establishment of a Tour of Three Nations per street biking enthusiasts who want to broaden their horizons. It is a loop tour, four or seven days long, that allows you to discover three different alpine cultures: Swiss "ladino" in the Engadin Valley, Italy's Alta Valtellina and the Austrian Tyrol. Departing from Livigno, you reach Santa Maria and Scuol, in Switzerland, and Nauders, in Austria. It's a tough route but you pedal light, because while you face the climbs to the Forcola Pass (2315 m), the Bernina Pass (2330 m), the Stelvio Pass (2758 m) and the Forna Pass (2149 m) the organization transports your luggage from one hotel to the next.
The lodgings are similar to Lungolivigno hotels in their attention to biking needs, with storage rooms, benches and shoe racks, plus laundry service for riding togs, a workbench for bike maintenance and a small library of cycling literature. For those who prefer a mountain bike, there is a Tour of Three Nations that takes you through the heart of the Alps on dirt roads and trails for four days or seven. From Livigno you cross the Val Federia to reach the Chaschauna Pass, at 2694 meters the highest point of the trip.
The long descent touches Zernez and Scuol, where you make your first stop. Then it's off across the border to Nauders and back toward Livigno after another stop at Santa Maria and the climb toward the Val Mora.

CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
It all starts on 28 August with the Pedaleda, the 60-km race where entrants go elbow to elbow with the world's best in this specialty. 31 August will be dedicated to the Cross Country, a 9-km loop course with 338 meters of altitude change, including steep, nervous climbs and short but technically challenging descents with some really tough passages. Then on 2 September come the 4 Cross, men's and women's, a head-to-head direct elimination race, and the women's Trail, the acrobatic obstacle course where contestants have to get past tree trunks and blocks of cement as much as six feet high. Saturday 3 September is the day of the Downhill, the long, incredible descent of 635 m in altitude with an incline of over 23 percent. The festivities finish with a bang on Sunday 4 September with the finals of the Trail and Cross Country events.

BIKING TECHNOLOGY
Since last year, some 600 km of mountain bike tracks in the area around Livigno have been digitally mapped. That means all you have to do is rent a GPS (at your hotel or the Tourist Board) to hook into the network and pedal away without a map and without risk of getting lost in the vast web of trails. Just check the display to see instantly where you are, and how far from your destination. For asphalt lovers, the preferred technology is the Le salite del Giro card, which certifies your ascent to great mountain passes, from the 2.758 meters of the Stelvio to the 2.621 of the Foscagno. At the start of the climb, a scanner reads the card, and another registers your time of arrival at the top. Every evening the data are fed to the website www.lesalitedelgiro.it, where amateurs who made it to the top find their names and times listed among those of the most famous professional riders.