Training camp season is upon us in the northern hemisphere and whether you choose to escape to the sun to hone your winter speed, cram in some panic training or quite simply you no longer have an ounce of patience for cold, wind and the wet, a training is great way to start the season.
This spring don't tread the same beaten paths as years gone by, do you really need to join the hordes of riders trudging a path up to Sir Chris Hoy's favourite climb, Sa Colobra?
Forget Tenerife, the home of Team Sky, everyone knows that the demoralizingly bleak climb up Mount Tiede is their second home, and no doubt there will be plenty out hunting a selfie with Froomey.
Check out these hidden pro-team destinations for those who are looking for some serious riding and deep sense of wanderlust.
Ten kilometres from Quarrata, training base and home to fast-man Mark Cavendish, is the picturesque district of Pistoia. Sitting snugly at the foot of the Apennines, it undoubtedly warrants more attention than it recieves currently.
Pistoia is a town that has grown well beyond its medieval ramparts, its centro storico remains a well preserved icon of tranquility today.
Ride a few kilometres north and you'll have access to the Passo della Porretta, a popular climb used in the 2009 Giro d'Italia. It is beautiful yet not overwhelmingly long and arduous. The Apennines offer a myriad of snaking ascents north that can be looped west toward Lago di Bilancino a large lake near the Giro start town of Barberino di Mugello.
Pistoia's position is key; it is not nestled deep in the high mountains making flat recovery days to Pisa easy, access back to base can be via a final big climb or a manageable roll back into town if you are looking to get the miles in.
Made famous by? Mapei, Mark Cavendish.
What to eat? Be sure to try some traditional Cantucci biscotti, a true Tuscan classic. These twice baked crunchy treats originating from Prato are actually able to be keep fresh for weeks on end. Dip them in a hot beverage at a café stop.
What to pack?
Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona, USA
This is a land of Stetsons and spurs, where cowboy ballads are sung around the campfire under starry, black-velvet skies and thick steaks sizzle on the grill. Anchored by the bustling college-town of Tucson, it's a vast region, where long, dusty highways slide past rolling vistas and pointy mountain ranges.
Tucson sits 728m above sea-level, lofty enough to gain some advantages from altitude but not so high that the height makes any kind of activity almost impossible.
When Lance Armstrong made his return to the pro peloton in 2009, he and his teammates headed to Southern Arizona, basing themselves at the foot of Lemmon and using the climb as part of their training.
Made famous by? Lance Armstrong 2009 comeback season and Team Radioshack.
What to eat? Why not reward yourself after a hard day in the legs with a much deserved craft beer from one of Tucsony's many microbreweries? Dragoon Brewing Co comes highly recommended. And why not soak some of that sweet brewed nectar up with a Sopapilla? This crispy Mexican deep fried flatbread. A perfect way to carb load for those extended efforts in the heat.
What to pack?
|ASSOS T.EQUIPE S7 BIB SHORT
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|RAPHA TRAVEL SET
Luxurious skincare bundle
Sierra Nevada, Spain
Sierra Nevada is the name of a ski station (where Dani Moreno won a stage of the Vuelta in 2011) and a National Park home to the highest peak of the Iberian Peninsula - Mulhacén, 3,478 metres above sea level.
A popular destination for professional cyclists alike, most riders base themselves on the northern side of the park near Granada. The picturesque Andalusian ranges offer big days of climbing or you can detour around one of the many bodies of water and take on several short climbs. Indulge in a recovery day and pay a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alhambra, enjoying its rich medieval history.
Made famous by? Bauke Mollema, Blanco / Belkin Pro Cycling.
What to eat? The village of Trevélez, one of the highest villages in Spain at 1476m is renowned for its delicious cured ham. Local specialities at any of Trevélez´s many bars or cafes will see this mouth-watering ham served with broad beans (habas con jamón) or trout (trucha con jamón).
What to ride? Alto Hazallanas is a truly unforgettable 17km ascent that featured in the 2013 Vuelta a Espana. After passing through the gateway village of Güéjar Sierra after 10km of steady climbing, the final 7 kilometres unleash pitches of upto 20% in places. Grind out this testing finale and prepare to be richly rewarded with a breath-taking vista atop the Alto Hazallanas.
What to pack?
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|SPORTFUL HOT PACK
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Southern Alps, Nice, France
Nice combines the cosmopolitan French Riviera with stunning cycling and, like Girona, is home to plenty of professional cyclists.
Neighbour to the opulent Monaco, where Team Sky headed for 2014 pre-tour build up, the region is known as the Alpes-Martitimes . There are plenty of climbs for 'col hunters' to tick off including the Col de la Madone, a favourite of disgraced cycling coach Dr. Ferrari. Make sure you end you day with a ride along the legendary Promenade des Anglais for an epic sunset.
Made famous by? Richie Porte, David Millar, Motorola, Team Sky.
What to eat? Eating options are some of the best you'll find in France. From pastry to steak, the options after a hard day in the saddle are endless.
What to ride? The Col d'Eze is Nice's calling card. The Paris-Nice race finished with a time trial on the climb every year between 1968 and 1995 (except 1977).
What to pack?
|ICEBREAKER ARM WARMERS
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|OAKLEY RADAR PHOTOCHROMIC
Ultimate sports glasses with light adapting lens