If you were ever looking for hard evidence of the growing popularity of endurance cycling, then you only need to take a look at the plethora of new races appearing on the calendar. In just a few years, what had been a very niche discipline has burgeoned into a rich and varied race scene.
Two Volcano Sprint is one of the latest additions to that roster. This race is the creation of Juliana Buhring, a veteran of endurance cycling who has won the women’s classification of both the Transcontinental Race and the Trans Am Bike Race who, for 2019, has turned her hand to race organisation.
The Two Volcano Sprint is a single-stage, set-route event staged between Italy’s two iconic volcanoes – Mt. Vesuvio, set on the Gulf of Naples and Mt. Etna on the island of Sicily. In Italy, most cyclists tend to base themselves in the north, near the famous climbs of the Alps and the Dolomites. Not many venture south and even fewer reach Italy's southernmost regions.
However, this is the region that Juliana Buhring calls home, and the 2VS route has been designed specifically to showcase Italy’s largely unexplored south.
The race route begins at the foot of Mt. Vesuvio, near the city of Naples, before heading south through the Valle Delle Ferriere and along the spectacular coastal road towards the town of Scalea.
From there, the race cuts inland. 2VS might be relatively short by the standards of endurance cycling, but the middle part of this race sees riders tackling Italy’s craggy central spine – the Apennine mountains – where the gradients will be relentless.
Once they reach the town of Villa san Giovanni in Italy’s far south, riders board a ferry to Sicily and the port of Messina. From there, they begin their final push to crest Mt. Etna and reach the race finish in Nicolosi.
This year’s edition of the Two Volcano Sprint will be contested by a field of around twenty riders. The standout name on that roster is one Fiona Kolbinger, winner of this year’s Transcontinental Race, who planned to race the event with fellow TCR veteran Bjorn Lenhard. However, in the week preceding the race, it was rumoured that both had come down with tonsillitis and their participation was in doubt.
As is always the case with brand new races, it's impossible to predict exactly how 2VS will play out. There is no formbook to look back on and all this year's riders are now racing into the unknown.
Race coverage begins on Thursday 7th of November.