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In the saddle from Umbria to Marche

The Marmore Falls, the Apennines, the Monti Sibillini Park. A route where nature takes over, where you pedal in silence and listen to the sounds of the water and the wind.

<strong>Magic</strong> is the word flowing invisibly along the 202 kilometres of the fourth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. <strong>We are talking about the charm the waterfalls envelop you with</strong>, being the tallest ones in Europe, <strong>an emotion that all riders </strong>– both professional and amateur – <strong>experience when they ‘attack’ a mountain chain</strong>, as well as the spells that – as the legend goes – hide amidst the peaks of the Sibillini Mountains. You just have to sit in the saddle and let yourself be enchanted by this itinerary.

1. The Marmore Falls

You set off from the Marmore Falls, a marvel of hydraulic engineering dating back to the Romans that began this project in 271 BC to make the Velino and Nera rivers join together. The roaring water jumps three times in a 165m fall, with a flow rate that reaches 15 square metres per second. It is a worthy spectacle to admire from various standpoints, maybe by riding along one of the cycling itineraries with the whole family. One of the most popular, around 20km-long with 150m elevation gain, enters I Carpacci Park, in Marmore, next to the Belvedere of the waterfalls and runs along the Velino river. Past Piediluco, a fishing village with colourful buildings overlooking the lake by the same name, the route leads towards Colli sul Velino. Once the loop around the lake is over, the riders head back to Marmore.

2. Across the Appennines

From the Marmore Waterfalls the race route turns towards the Apennines, taking in mild and uniform slopes. To reach the Torre Fuscello Pass (1050m of altitude) on the border between Umbria and Lazio one must roll for 30 kilometres. Once you clear the pass, you enter the municipality of Leonessa and, a few kilometres further, the municipality of Posta on the Salaria – the consular road that the Romans used to transport the salt from the Adriatic Sea to Rome. But the best is still to come, at around 50 km, on the road leading to Ascoli Piceno. The Monti Sibillini Park, lying in two regions – Marche and Umbria – is a naturalistic paradise with two souls: a fairy-tale and a thriller atmosphere, depending on where you want to get lost. Below the Mount Vettore, for example, you enjoy a mild landscape with oak trees, hundred-year-old olive trees, gorses, ploughed fields and ageless stone-built villages. But at high altitudes, you might shiver not only because of the cold. As the legend goes, a herd of buffalos dragged the corpse of a Roman solicitor into the waters of Lake Pilato at 1941m of altitude. His spirit is supposedly hovering there still today.

3. Route towards Ascoli Piceno

Legends apart, let’s go back to the race with a testing finale. It is a circuit to be raced twice, with the Bellante ‘wall’ to be dealt with three times. It is just a 4km loop but with an average gradient of 7 percent peaking to 11 percent. Yet, mind that on the double-digit gradient sectors, the going gets tough. Too tough? The amateurs can even end their day with a stop in Ascoli Piceno. The advice is to have a walk along its ‘rues’, narrow winding alleyways that cut across the city like grooves and connect the old walls and the town centre. Alternatively, those who love history, can plan to spend an afternoon at the Picen World Museum, the new multimedia archeological museum (inaugurated in 2021). Through augmented reality, one can handle artifacts that have been recovered in the necropolis where the ancient Picens lived. Further magics, this time technological ones.

By RCS Sport editorial staff.