Stelvio pass is in the cycling myth since 1953, after a 34 years old Fausto Coppi, was able to grab his last Giro d’Italia, dropping the GC leader, the Swiss Hugo Koblet, in a legendary day. Stelvio was a dirt road at that time, and bikes were not as sophisticated and lightweight as now. Romantic cycling, as they call it.
“i’m still that eight-year-old kid who rode up the stelvio. I’m still that kid in my legs, in my head and in my heart.”
Total distance: 909,3 kmkm
total elevation: 25,475 mm
Duration: 12 days
difficulty level: Challenge
Arrival at Milan airport and transfer to Bormio, Italian Alps. Accommodation and dinner at four-star hotel.
Passo Gavia, the final and main climb of the day is very challenging. First, because it is quite long, about 17 km, and because it is 2600m above sea level, where the air is thin. Thin air is no joke, and there is no way to prepare for it. So, to save our legs for this challenge, we will tackle the Mortirolo from its ‘easier’ side, from the little town of Grosio. Then we will climb up to Passo Gavia starting from Ponte di Legno, just like during the 97th Giro d’Italia in 2014, won by the Colombian Nairo Quintana of Movistar Team. Accommodation and dinner at hotel.
Stelvio pass is in the cycling myth since 1953, after a 34 years old Fausto Coppi, was able to grab his last Giro d’Italia, dropping the GC leader, the Swiss Hugo Koblet, in a legendary day. Stelvio climb was on a dirt road at that time, and bikes were not as sophisticated and lightweight as now. Romantic - or heroic - cycling, as they call it.
There’s big debate among cyclists on which side of Stelvio is the nicest: Lombardy side, from Bormio or Trentino side, from Prato allo Stelvio. We don’t want to influence your opinion, so we give you the opportunity to make your own idea. We ride up from Bormio, go all the way down across Switzerland, and up again from Prato allo Stelvio, enjoying all the famous 48 hairpins up top.
This stage can be shortened by van up to Umbrail pass. That way it'd be 80km and 2200m elevation gain.
A day dedicated to watch Giro from the sidelines of one of Europe's hardest climbs: Mortirolo pass. This must-do HC climb is world famous as is very challenging and steep. It’s been included in the Giro in 1990 and it became famous for the legendary stage of 1994 Giro when a very young Marco Pantani dropped his majesty Miguel Indurain, showing the world a new star was born. A monument to the famous Italian climber is at km 8. We get there after a long way down from Bormio to Tirano, then we climb up the Aprica pass so to face Mortirolo from the Monno side. Nearly on top of the climb, we take a break at the rifugio, then we select a good spot to watch the riders.
This is our last day in Bormio. We have a long transfer on this day, but we will still want to enjoy some quality riding. Why not go for a lovely ride up to the Cancano lakes? Short but gorgeous, it gives us the time to take a shower, have a light lunch and move to Oulx, Piedmont, about 400km away. Accommodation and dinner at three-star hotel in Sauze d’Oulx.
These mountains have two rideable sides, and both sides are fantastic. We will start with the Lautaret. At 2058m, it is not among the tallest mountains, but it is the door to Galibier, one of the highest tops of this tour, at 2645m, and very often the highest mountain climbed during the Tour de France. Tour de France has done Galibier 59 times so far, and, as usual on such high passes, any year is a new page in a history book. To understand this better, two monuments have been left here by the French. One is to Henri Desgranges, founder of Tour de France, the other is to Marco Pantani, who made French enthusiasts fall in love with him because of his racing style. It’s a place we cannot miss. And we won’t. We will leave La Grave and ride up Col de Lautaret and Col du Galibier then down to Valloire, have a lunch stop and then back to La Grave and have dinner at hotel.
Alpe d'Huez is the climb of the Tour de France par excellence. You might think this is because it is a very high mountain. But it is not. It is 'just' 1885m above sea level. But the consistently challenging gradient of around 8% in a 14 km stretch puts cyclists – even pro riders – to the test. This is especially true since this ride comes after so many elevation meters gained during the week. We will get there by cycling down from La Grave to Le Burg d’Oisans. From there, suddenly we will start going up immediately on a steep slope. We are sure not to break the sub 37 minutes’ record set by Marco Pantani in 1995. And for sure neither Pantani, nor the pro cyclists who raced there next, could have enjoyed a well-deserved beer at top of the mountain, as we’ certainly will do. That is one of the privileges of being slow riders. From the narrow mountain roads we'll make our way back to La Grave, where we'll have dinner and stay overnight for the last night.
We move to the lovely French region called Provence to enjoy the last two days of this amazing tour. It’s a long way in the van from Alpe d’Huez to Bedoin. We will have the time for a light lunch at the hotel and go for a short but awesome ride through the natural monument called Gorge de la Nesque. Slight gradients, wild countryside and spectacular views are the stuff that make the best appetizer for us who like to taste a lovely dinner accompanied by a local red wine. Accommodation and dinner in a four-star hotel in Bedoin.
Is there a better way than climbing Mont Ventoux to put an end to a cycling adventure like this? We don’t think so. Mont Ventoux is another myth of cycling. Like Alpe d’Huez, it is not among the tallest mountains. Nonetheless, cyclists remember this huge mountain with its white cap caused by the total lack of vegetation on its limestone slopes that pops up from the hills of Provence, We know what you are thinking? Will the view be the same as I’ve seen on the TV, while watching the Tour? Yes, it will. During the last 4 km, you’ll find yourself immersed in the same unusual, desert-like, dazzling white top, with the television tower that marks the finish line. This will be your last stage, and, even though the climb is very long – 15km, at an average gradient of 7.7%. Your legs will be very tired, but you won’t want the ride and this amazing tour to end. We will stop at the refuge at the top to enjoy a lunch with view. Then we will enjoy the very long and quick descent to Bedoin. Accommodation and dinner in a four-star hotel in Bedoin.
Transfer to Marseille airport and end of services.
Via Vittorio Emanuele, 43
Quartu Sant'Elena, Cagliari