Wednesday 2 August 2017 06.30 BST
A ski resort in Italy is experimenting with closing sections of its mountain roads in an effort to become a mecca for road cyclists during the summer season.
Alta Badia in the Italian Dolomites has hosted three “bike only” days this summer to boost its cyclo-tourism credentials and capitalise on the trend for closed-roads sportives.
The scheme, which sees some of the most famous climbs in road cycling closed to motor vehicles, has attracted thousands of riders to the region and could be expanded beyond the resort.
The Unesco world heritage site is best known for its high-end ski resorts but has hosted large road and mountain bike events for years, including regular appearances in the Giro d’Italia.
The 31st edition of the Maratona dles Dolomites, one of the largest mass participation rides in cycling, was hosted in Alta Badia last month and was bookended by the closed-road free ride days.
Sportives, which allow amateur riders to experience closed roads in settings similar to professional cyclists, have exploded in popularity over the last decade.
The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 which took place last weekend hosted about 28,000 riders who covered up to 100 miles (160km) on closed roads through the capital and into the countryside of southern England.
Similar events are held almost every weekend around the UK and Europe. But the sportive phenomenon has been criticised for over-crowding rides and commercialising the sport.
The craze for closed roads without a timed course to cover, such as the one trialled in Alta Badia, could be seen as a way to avoid oversubscribed sportives.
The latest bike-only day in July closed the Campolongo, Falzarego and Valparola mountain passes, all roads that featured in the last two editions of the Giro d’Italia.
The stretch of road closed to cars was 51km long, included almost 1,300 metres of climbing, and was closed to traffic from 10am to 3pm.