Thiele on the launch of the Alpine Challenge and ditching the technology industry for cycling

In the Saddle with HotChillee founder Sven Thiele

Where are your favourite places to ride?
The beauty of cycling is that it is universal and there are many brilliant places to ride. The people you ride with make a massive difference. I love our local Surrey lanes with its short sharp climbs, the French Alps in summer and Cape Town during the Northern Hemisphere winter, where you have a brilliant sunny and scenic playground for MTB and road cycling whilst Europe is freezing. We also love to ride out of Stephen Roche’s training camp venue in Mallorca which seems to have more cyclists than motorists in spring.

What’s the biggest rush achievable on a bike?
On a road bike there is nothing better than going flat out in a large peloton with closed roads. On a MTB, that feeling as you take some air and you wonder what’s about to happen next!

Your background is in the technology industry – why the switch to the cycle world?
I spent many years as an entrepreneur in the tech sector, which was great fun and rewarding in the early days. Cycling became a passion later in life and as luck would have it I had the opportunity of making a business of it. As my lifestyle changed, I naturally reduced my tech efforts and now lead a much healthier lifestyle. These growth years in the cycling sector very much remind of technology sector in the ‘80s.

And what led to the founding of the Alpine Challenge?
The London-Paris proved extremely popular and our riders wanted us to use the same format, but create a multi-stage mountain event. We spent several years researching locations and decided that Annecy best suited our requirements; not only for future growth bit also as a very scenic location – it is a great travel destination in its own right.

What has the reaction been to the 2013 route?
The first day has attracted the most comments, mainly of “fear”. The prologue is a lot harder this year, being a 8.2km TT up Col de la Forclaz, which varies from four to 15 per cent in steepness. As it is a seeding stage, I have no doubt that there will be many riders who push themselves the full 100 per cent – it’s difficult not to on a TT.

Has HotChillee got any more events in the works?
We do research work on a portfolio of events and not all ideas make it through to delivery. This year we launched the Le Grand Truc rides and have another new ride planned for 2014. Our desire is to keep focus on the quality of the events and rider experience rather than for exceptional growth.

What’s the best part of your job?
It almost doesn’t feel like a job! I love the fact that we deal with exceptional people doing extraordinary things, and satisfyingly can provide them with an event in which they can perform.

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