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Cycling in Albania

Discover the beauty of this previously isolated country by bike



At a glance

* 5 nights hotels, 2 nights guesthouses
* 6 days cycling with full vehicle support
* Group normally 4 to 16, plus local cycling leader and driver. Min age 16
yrs
* Trip can be combined with Cycle Macedonia & Northern Albania
* E-bike hire available on request

Discover the beauty of this previously isolated country by bike

Some say that visiting Albania is as close as you’ll get to travelling back
in time. It wasn’t until the collapse of the People’s Socialist Republic of
Albania in 1991 that the world got its first glimpse of the country within.
Huge snow-capped mountains, inviting beaches, pretty rural villages, a
genuine subsistence culture and an exceptionally friendly welcome is what you
will find here. We cycle through the very best of Europe’s beautiful unknown,
beginning our tour on the border of Macedonia, biking towards the ancient
town of Gjirokastra passing soaring peaks and lush green valleys. From here
we begin our descent to the Albanian Riviera passing the UNESCO site of
Butrint and Llogara National Park, before relaxing by the sea at our hotel in
Vlorë.

https://www.exodus.co.uk/sites/exod/files/node/itinerary/images/mva.jpg?t=1Dlb4Y

Type: Land Only

Flight prices available from NeenanCycling. Contact us for details

What’s included

* All breakfasts and 2 dinners included
* All accommodation
* Transfer for group flights
* Local bike hire

Food:
All breakfasts and 2 dinners included.

Food in Albania is quite varied thanks to the many influences on the country
and particularly Mediterranean combining Turkish, Greek and Italian tastes.
Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in almost every meal,
usually locally sourced.

Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha (the communist leader of Albania from
1944-1985), Albania became a self-sustaining country due to its isolation to
the world. However due to the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs
and Mediterranean climate, they are still very much a subsistence culture and
show very little signs of changing. In the countryside expect your food to
have been reared/grown not too far from your plate.

Breakfasts are typically eggs, fresh bread, jam, honey and coffee or tea. For
lunch and dinner, meat dishes are often goat or lamb, with fish dishes
ranging from trout to whitebait. Courses often come in mezze form
complimented with a variety of succulent vegetables, salad, freshly baked
bread, homemade cheeses, local wines and of course, raki. Your guide will
recommend the best options when in the towns.

Start destination: Pogradec

End destination: Vlore

Cycling profile

Day 1

Start Pogradec. Those on the group flight will be met at the airport and
transferred to our hotel in Pogradec, situated on the shore of Lake Ohrid
(approx. 3hr drive). The afternoon is free to relax and enjoy this lakeside
location.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 2

We begin with one of the most demanding days of the tour. After a quick
transfer to Korçë, we begin cycling and leave behind the agricultural
plateau, climbing steadily into the border mountains through a landscape of
barren rock interspersed with wild flowers. Numerous cols and valleys lie
ahead, climbing towards Grammoz Mountain and over the Barmash Pass (1159m) to
Gërmenj, lying in its own tranquil valley. Here we relax at our
accommodation, Farma Sotira, which is also a working trout farm. Meals here
consist of organic produce that is reared or sourced from the farm itself.
Once you’ve finished eating your hearty dinner, you can sit and relax by
the open roaring fire in the dining area with a glass of homemade wine or a
bottle of Korçë beer (Albania’s most popular).

Cycle approx. 72km, total ascent approx. 1150m, total descent approx. 1050m.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 3

In the morning there is a climb out from Germenj to a high grassy plateau
close to the Greek border, surrounded by soaring peaks before reaching the
source of the River Vjosa and descending through its spectacular gorge to
Leskovik. We continue descending to Çarshove and then follow the corniche
route high above the river to Benje situated on a ridge above the river.
After lunch at the guesthouse, we take a short ride to the thermal springs to
relax and soothe aching muscles. Both lunch and dinner will be served on the
peaceful terrace.

Cycle approx. 60km, total ascent approx. 687m, total descent approx. 1352m.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 4

Today is one of the easiest days. We continue along the valley towards
Kelcyra with its distant shark-tooth peaks, which guard a further gorge. We
ride between these gorges until the two rivers meet. After lunch at the
waterfalls of Tepelene we drive (approx. 30 mins) through the wide plain
toward the town of Gjirokastra (city of 1000 steps). The well-preserved town
is perched on the steep side of the Drino Valley, overlooking snow-capped
mountains. In the afternoon we take a cultural tour through the city and
explore its narrow cobbled alleys and 18th Century Ottoman houses. We also
visit the 13th Century castle and learn about the fascinating history of this
town, which has seen many rulers and has inspired poets, authors and artists.

Cycle approx. 46km, total ascent approx. 350m, total descent approx. 520m.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 5

After breakfast we load the bikes on to the support vehicle and transfer up
to Muzina Pass (approx. 45 minutes), the gateway to southern Albania, for a
spectacular downhill ride to Sarandë. Located on the Ionian Coast, Sarandë
is sandwiched between the high mountains and the sea and is close to the
ancient remains of Butrint, which we visit on the way. A UNESCO World
Heritage Site, Butrint is located very close to the Greek border and is one
of the country’s most important archaeological sites, tracing its origins
back to the Greeks and the Romans. We have lunch at the site and continue
along the coast to Sarandë.

Cycle approx. 70km, total ascent approx. 725m, total descent approx. 1285m.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 6

Climbing steeply out of Sarande to a rocky plateau, we enjoy a spectacular
coastal ride over cols into bays and around headlands. Always with the
stunning mountain scenery to the right and sea to the left, we continue along
before descending to Himarë, a small communist-era fishing village with a
small promenade filled with cafes, restaurants and ice cream stands. There is
plenty of time for a swim in the Ionian Sea, and our hotel is a short walk to
Potam Beach.
Cycle approx. 54km, total ascent approx. 1064m, total descent approx. 1064m.
*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 7

Today’s route is as challenging as it is spectacular as we cycle the most
demanding ride of the tour; it will show you how strong you have become. In
the morning there is a climb out of Himarë, which naturally is rewarded with
an enjoyable downhill. We then have another climb before our coffee break.
Our break is followed with a nice downhill, but we must climb yet again
before we regroup. We then come face to face with the long steady ascent to
the Llogara pass. At 1043m above sea level, this climb is completely
optional, so if you think it is too much then you can jump in the support
vehicle. However, if you are looking for an extra challenge, this climb comes
with a real sense of achievement, and the views are fantastic. At the pass
itself (which you will also see if you take the van) it is possible to see
across to Italy on a clear day. We recommend taking a warmer layer for
reaching the top of the pass. From here you enter Llogara National Park, home
to black pine, Eurasian otter and golden eagles. The park is a scenic expanse
of protected woodland that encompasses the forests on the northern side of
the Llogora Pass. We begin to descend and have lunch in the National Park. In
the afternoon we continue descending towards our hotel, which is located by
the sea just outside of the city. Here we can relax and take a dip in the
sea, the perfect reward for a hard day’s cycle.

 Cycle approx. 65km, total ascent approx. 1630m (including the optional
climb), total descent approx. 1630m.

*Comfortable Hotel*

Day 8

End Vlorë. Those on the group flight will be transferred to Tirana airport
in the morning (approx. 2.5hr drive).

Prices & Dates

Date: 2018-08-312018-09-07

Trip code: MVA180831

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1215

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Date: 2018-09-072018-09-14

Trip code: MVA180907

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1215

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Date: 2018-09-212018-09-28

Trip code: MVA180921

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1215

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Date: 2018-09-282018-10-05

Trip code: MVA180928

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1215

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Date: 2018-10-052018-10-12

Trip code: MVA181005

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1145

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Date: 2019-04-122019-04-19

Trip code: MVA190412

Availability: Available

Price: €1145

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Date: 2019-04-192019-04-26

Trip code: MVA190419

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Date: 2019-04-262019-05-03

Trip code: MVA190426

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Date: 2019-05-032019-05-10

Trip code: MVA190503

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-05-102019-05-17

Trip code: MVA190510

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Date: 2019-05-172019-05-24

Trip code: MVA190517

Availability: Available

Price: €1395

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Date: 2019-05-242019-05-31

Trip code: MVA190524

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-05-312019-06-07

Trip code: MVA190531

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-06-072019-06-14

Trip code: MVA190607

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-06-142019-06-21

Trip code: MVA190614

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-06-212019-06-28

Trip code: MVA190621

Availability: Available

Price: €1395

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Date: 2019-06-282019-07-05

Trip code: MVA190628

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-08-302019-09-06

Trip code: MVA190830

Availability: Available

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-09-062019-09-13

Trip code: MVA190906

Availability: Available

Trip status: Fully guaranteed

Price: €1245

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Date: 2019-09-132019-09-20

Trip code: MVA190913

Availability: Available

Price: €1215

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Date: 2019-09-202019-09-27

Trip code: MVA190920

Availability: Available

Price: €1215

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Date: 2019-09-272019-10-04

Trip code: MVA190927

Availability: Available

Price: €1215

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Date: 2019-10-042019-10-11

Trip code: MVA191004

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Date: 2019-10-112019-10-18

Trip code: MVA191011

Availability: Available

Price: €1175

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Customer Feedback

cycling in Albania

Summary:
A fantastic trip. Hotels and food were excellent. The two guides were
friendly and knowledgeable.
The scenery was amazing – open vistas, mountains, and beaches. The trip was
perfectly organized and the cycling was amazing.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The descent from 1100 to 300m to the town of Carshove, but there were many
inspirational moments.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
He was the best!

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Don’t bring all the things they tell you to. One change of clothes is fine.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Very well organized trip. I appreciate the flexibility built into each day’s
itinerary.

Read full review

cycling in Albania

Summary:
A fantastic trip. Hotels and food were excellent. The two guides were
friendly and knowledgeable.
The scenery was amazing – open vistas, mountains, and beaches. The trip was
perfectly organized and the cycling was amazing.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The descent from 1100 to 300m to the town of Carshove, but there were many
inspirational moments.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
He was the best!

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Don’t bring all the things they tell you to. One change of clothes is fine.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Very well organized trip. I appreciate the flexibility built into each day’s
itinerary.

Read full review

Tough Cycling, Beautiful Vistas

Summary:
I’m so thrilled that I took the chance and visited Albania. It is a country I
previously had never concieved of visiting before. As a Black female
traveller, I wasn’t sure what to expect (I saw no one that looked like me
during the trip), but people were always kind to me. The food was excellent
(lots of fresh and roasted vegetables, cheese, yogurt, fish and seafood).

Rating: 4

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The beautiful countryside and the Albanian people.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our group had many experienced cyclists and perhaps this lead to a bit of
overconfidence by some on the route. The first day had a lot of spills,
although those of us who went “piano piano” were alright. I was very
impressed with how our guides handled the medical problems. We all felt we
were in very good hands.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
This was my first cycling trip. I am a confident and frequent cyclist, I have
done multi-day rides before and I trained for this ride for a few months in
advance, but this was the most challenging cycling I’ve experienced. I found
the first day and the last day of cycling very tough but I was not shy to use
the SAG van when I needed. Use your common cycling sense and don’t get swept
up in peer-pressure from the group (particularly where conditions are not
optimal). The roads are super slick in the rain. It’s a ride not a race.
Also, a few of us had stomach problems. Bring Imodium.

Read full review

Tougher than expected

Summary:
This was a tough trip and I think the 4 grading is rather generous when
compared to other cycling trips with Exodus. However having said that it is
as always a great way to see the country and to experience Albania. This trip
around the southern part of Albania includes both mountains along the border
with Greece and the Ionian coast. Although we found this a tough ride we both
thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it was a great holiday. The guides were very
supportive and helpful.

Rating: 4

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Cycling through the mountains and seeing the inspiring countryside as it
changed.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Both the leaders were very good and competent. They went out of their way to
ensure that the group had a great time and were able to enjoy the cycling.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
The first and the last days are the toughest cycling so there’s not much time
to improve your fitness once you are in Albania. Do not be fooled by the
relatively short distances to be covered each day it is the elevation gained
and lost that make this a great challenge.

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Tough but rewarding

Summary:
Based on previous reviews I thought this would be challenging but manageable
for my abilities. Some but minimal cycling recently but good fitness base. It
was definitely more difficult than some of the reviews suggest in particular
day 1 is straight into some tough climbs which I struggled with but for the
rest of the days I was able to manage quite well. Slower cyclist in my
group-most of them regular cyclists with good speed but they were all super
supportive throughout. All in all a great trip with a great support crew and
very rewarding to complete the last day 🙂

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Completing the last days climbs and the whole trip in general after a tough
first day where I doubted my abilities.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Erlis was great-knowledgeable and supportive throughout. Very enthusiastic
with his work ensuring everything is perfect.

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Cycling Albania

Summary:
Interesting, challenging adventure trip mostly in rural Albania with some
days on the Ionian coast.

Rating: 4

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
One late afternoon we had a chance to visit the thermal springs of Benji. We
had to cross an ancient foot bridge to get to the pool. It was awesome to be
in warm waters in the middle of nowhere looking at beautiful pasture and
snowy peaks.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
This was the only sub-par part of the trip. Our leader biked by himself most
of the time, leaving us for ourselves. There was a van support, but it was
very behind us, sometimes ahead of us leaving us without support. The leader
failed to point out the beauty, the scenery and most of the time the guiding
was very superficial, lacked enthusiasm.
This was my 3rd trip with Exodus, and the other two trip leaders were so much
better.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Make sure to be in good form, the hills are steep. This is not a trip for a
beginner.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Food was excellent, all local, organic and very tasty.
Rural roads were in bad condition.
There should be a better arrangement for those not flying in from England;
some of us had to take a taxi to Pogradec, some 250 km away, because the
local transportation would not wait for us at the airport.

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Cycle Albania

Summary:
Albania totally surpassed my expectations. The scenery and cycling was
fantastic. Inland its a bit like the Alps and towards the coast it get more
like mountainous meditterannean. But the beauty of it is that the roads are
really quiet which is just great for cycling. The trip notes had said that
some of the accommodation may be a little basic, but this too was a lot
better than I was expecting. I think this trip had the best days cycling
I’ve had anywhere.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Getting to the end in one piece. Its a 6 day trip. We had 5 glorious days
of sunshine, with some big climbs, and on the final day a little rain, which
made the roads very slip after a prolonged dry spell. Two of the team had a
spill

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
They were great as usual on all exodus trips. They were from a local company
‘Cycle Albania’. Everything was well organised, the bikes were good, and
they coped well with a few unexpected events. People could cycle at their
own pace and then re-group at specific points.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Not really. The only thing I would say is that I wouldn’t go to Albania for a
gastronomic experience. There is a lot of really good seafood, always fresh
and readily available. Otherwise the food is uninspiring.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
A great trip. I think this is a destination waiting to be discovered. Can’t
understand why loads of cyclist go to Majorca to train when they could come
here.

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Albania

Summary:
A challenging ride through dramatic scenery. Beautiful countryside, friendly
people but too many unfinished buildings. The trip was efficiently organised
with good back-up and accommodation.

Rating: 4

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Reaching the top of the 1000m pass on the final day.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Both leaders were excellent.They were well informed and spoke excellent
English.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Don’t be put off by the mountainous terrain. You can take it at your own
pace.

Read full review

Why would you go to Albania??

Summary:
Why would you go to Albania?!? Is what everyone said to me before I did this
trip. Well, after coming back I’m telling them they should go because of:
– Amazing scenery. Beautiful mountains, alpine type meadows, some nice
beaches along the coast
– Good food. Really nice, simple food. Fresh fish and fresh vegetables.
Options for vegetarians too.
– Great cycling. Some reasonable hills (and a couple of really good descents)
and generally good quiet roads (in April anyway.)

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The big hill on the last day was a satisfying challenge.
The descent out of the mountains on day 2 was beautiful and probably my
favourite bit.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Really good. The guide and driver we had were great – friendly, helpful and
super organised. This is probably the best organised exodus trip I’ve been
on.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
In terms of difficulty this is definitely a grade 4 (certainly not a 3.) You
don’t have to be a ‘cyclist’ but you do need to have a reasonable level
of cardiovascular fitness and to have been on a bike about before I think.

Read full review

Challenging cycling with stunning scenery, fabulous food and great company

Summary:
This is my seventh trip cycling with Exodus and probably one of the best.

The cycling was quite challenging with a fair amount of hill climbing and I
was glad that I had spent the time out on my bike in the weeks before I
departed. This was rewarded with cycling through wonderful hills and
mountains with snow capped mountains in the background. We could go at our
own pace and stopped for great coffee and lunch.

Every night we stayed in different types of accommodation – mountains,
valley, beach resort, small beach town. The variety was really good.

We had fantastic lunches and dinners with lots of home grown vegetables,
salad, local cheese, local wine. Our local guides organised these great meals
for the group.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Reaching the top of Llogara Pass on the last day of cycling. Our guides
provided us with information about the days cycling so we knew what to expect
and then provided snacks, water and supplies to make sure I could keep going
to the top.

I also really enjoyed cycling to Leskovik and through the valley. The snow
capped mountains in the background with river wending past wildflowers and
blossoms was a great days cycling.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our guides worked tirelessly to make sure we had a great holiday. They
organised lunch and dinner and provided encouragement and support for every
day of cycling. They were amazing ambassadors for Albania.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Make sure you do some training beforehand, cycling up and down hills.

I went without expectations and just wanting to have any enjoyable week of
cycling. It was a great experience and would recommend a trip to Albania
before it becomes really popular.

Read full review


Activity Levels


Activity Levels range from Leisurely to Tough, the grading takes into account the daily cycling distances and terrain, as well as any technical riding skill required. We also consider the number of cycling days as there can be a cumulative affect from tiredness on a longer trip and the type of accommodation used, as this can also influence your day to day recovery.

If you are in any doubt, please give us a call on +353-1-607 9900 or email us.


Activity level 1 - Leisurely Activity level 1: Leisurely

If you can ride a bike and enjoy gentle exercise, these are an ideal introduction to a cycling holiday. No routes are entirely flat, so expect some short climbs and descents. Maximum daily height gain is approximately 250 metres and daily distances rarely exceed 50kms (32 miles), any longer days are often optional.


Activity level 3 - Moderate Activity level 3: Moderate

Most people who enjoy a weekend riding at home will enjoy a Moderate trip. You need to be in good health and reasonably fit. Ideal for occasional cyclists, or as a more relaxed trip for fitter riders. Moderate off-road trips require no previous experience. Distances rarely exceed 70kms (43 miles) per day.


Activity level 5 - Challenging Activity level 5: Challenging

For any ride at this level, fitness is important. Challenging trips require confidence in your ability and physical condition. They are equivalent to an extended period of cycling at home. Previous mountain biking experience is essential for Challenging off road trips as they will involve some technical riding.


Activity level 7 - Tough Activity level 7: Tough

Previous experience of the cycling style or surface is a must as these routes have long cycling days and tougher terrain on both road and off road trips. You need complete confidence in your fitness and technical ability to cope with difficult or steep terrain, rough surfaces and longer distances. Ideal for those seeking a challenge!


Split grades

In order to provide more accuracy, where a trip falls between two grades we use an intermediate or ‘split’ grade, for example 2: Leisurely/Moderate.


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