CLASSIC ITALIAN CLIMBS JULY 30 - AUGUST 7, 2013
+ Bonus offer - extra 2 days based at Lago d'Iseo until 9/08/2013
With Topbike's Rush Dolomites Classic Italian Climbs, we venture north from Venice, high into the Dolomites, for 10 days of pointing our bikes up many of the classic climbs of Italy, all of which appear regularly in the Giro d'Italia. We move from the passes of Campolongo, Pordoi, Gardena, Sella, Marmolada, Zoncolan, Stelvio, Mortirolo and Gavia (twice) before drop off in Brescia.
Classic Italian Climbs 30/07/2013 – 7/08/2013
...with a bonus offer of an extra 2 days based on the banks of Lago Iseo, taking it to 9/08/2013!
Topbike Tours Classic Italian Climbs
Tuesday, July 30
We'll meet at Venice airport 11.00am (or another point, if pre-arranged) before transferring in the Topbike air conditioned mini-bus to Arabba (drive 185k, 2.5h). After assembling bikes, we'll take in a loop ride in our local environs, of 50k, that covers the passes of Valparola and Campolongo, and approx 1,300m of ascent. For the next three nights we will stay and dine in a chalet/hotel, dining inhouse.
Wednesday, July 31
Today, we've lined up the famous Sella Ronda. In winter you can ski this loop, but today we'll scoot around it, on wheels and sweat. At just 55k, with four passes, travelling clockwise, we'll first tackle Pordoi, onto Sella, Gardena, returning home again over Campolongo. It is the most spectacular 55k loop you will ever complete on a bicycle, guaranteed. This is an ideal warm up day, for the things to come, on a Classic Italian Climbs tour. (55k, 1600m asc)
The Sella Ronda is the setting where a young Cadel Evans placed himself into the Giro's leader's jersey during his first grand tour back in 2002, on a stage finish into Corvara in Badia, at the base of Passo Gardena.
Thursday, August 1
Just one new climb today, The Marmolada, where Emmanuele Sella won his 2nd consecutive hilltop finish in 2008's Giro, before going positive and out of the race scene for a couple of years. We're just positive we'll make it over, around, and back over the Pordoi once again (for the 2nd time in as many days) to return to Arabba for our final night of rest on the Sella Ronda. (74k, <2000m asc)
Friday, August 2
Passo Campolongo lies to the north of us, and we’ll pass through it on our way to the base of our next challenge, the Plan de Corones. The climb used for a Giro ITT in ’08 and ’10 and although used in a road grand tour, the top part of this stage is bianca strada (unmade road) and more reminiscent of a mountain bike course. Covering 13 kilometres, with an average grade of 8.5%, it has peaks of 24%. After the ITT course we continue eastwards to take up residence in Villabassa, just 14k from Austria, where we will reside for 2 nights in Topbike’s favourite Italian hotel. (84k, 2500m asc) NB there is no guarantee the bianca strada will be in a rideable condition.
In 2008, our favourite rider, Jens Voigt, cursed out loud while passing our group, ‘Strada stupida!’ upon striking the dirt section that signalled the start of the final 5 kilometres. Will you do the same?
Saturday, August 3
Here in Villabassa we're in the Sud-Tirol region of Italy. It was part of Austria until WW1, hence is heavily influenced and the reason why some towns and streets have two names. We'll head south out of Villabassa and parallel the Austrian border while we ride over Passo Monte Croce towards our destination of Zoncolan. From Ovaro, at the base of Zoncolan, to the top, we'll climb 1,210 metres in just 10.5km, giving an average grade of 11.5%. Today we'll return to Villabassa in comfort, in the Topbike air-conditioned van.
Gilberto Simoni triumphed here in 2006 followed by (once suspended drug cheat and eventual winner) Ivan Basso in 2010.
Sunday, August 4
We'll depart early in the vehicles today, as we transport over to Prato allo Stelvio, (drive 200k, 3h) Today we'll ride a relatively short distance, but it is pure quality as we cover two of the highest climbs in Italy, the passes of Stelvio and Gavia. Tonight we'll be located in an agriturismo in Ponte di Legno, just 65k from our ride start. (65k, 3500m asc)
Stelvio is not only Top Gear's favourite drive, along with being used by Ferrari as an informal test track, but favoured by pro riders as well. Many a team's training camp is held in the shadows of Stelvio.
Monday, August 5
Today we'll quietly make our own way around the infamous passes of our neighbourhood. We'll climb the other side of Gavia and the steep (race) side of Mortirolo in one fell swoop of 110k. Well, we'll swoop the down hills, and as long as we're upright, we'll meander our way over the passes, and return to our accommodation in Ponte di Legno. Good hot chocolates (and good grappa) to garner recovery, when gasping on top of Gavia, guaranteed. (110k, 3500m asc)
Lance Armstrong used to train on Mortirolo in 'mufti', back in his heyday.
Tuesday, August 6
To finish off we'll enjoy quite a soft day today, we'll (pack up and) roll out of Ponte di Legno at a leisurely hour, and descend all the way to Marone. 85k with a drop of more than 1,000m. We'll accomplish this with plenty of time to allow us to enjoy a long pasta lunch on the bank of Lake Iseo. Here we will spend our final night and meal at the base of the Dolomites. (110k, 3200m asc)
Wednesday, August 7
After breakfast, packing bikes and luggage, it's off to Brescia railway station (35k, 0.5h) for the end of our tour. Drop off time is 11am, and we'll ensure that everyone meets their transfers or gets to their next accommodation smoothly.
OR: Plus 2 more days on the banks of Lago Iseo for the price of one.
Lake Iseo (Lago d'Iseo) is the fourth largest lake in Lombardy, Italy, While this is a heavily industrialised part of the world, the area remains one of outstanding natural beauty. The road north to Switzerland used to wind along the side of the lake, but now it has been made into a bike path, while a much bigger road, carved into the side of the mountains, takes all the traffic above us. In the middle of the lake is Monte Isola (or Montisola), the largest island of any lake in Europe.
Wednesday, August 7
For those staying on, we'll ride north up the shores of Lake Iseo, at the top of the lake we'll turn to the right, and start going up. Over Croce Domini, and Passo Maniva, climbs used in the 2006 Giro, which includes 6k of 'bianca strada' (unmade road). Descending off Maniva is pretty special, as there is a gentle descent of 3-4% average, on sweeping bends for 40k. We'll return to our valley over the short climb of Polaveno (approx 300m). (Total 135k, with 3000m ascent)
Thursday, August 8
A tour through the grape vines and the wineries south of Lake Iseo is the call for today, just 80k with not quite 1,000m of ascent. All the while remembering, on the way home we'll have a couple of 18% bites to endure before hitting the banks of our lake and completing the final 10k home at lake level.
Friday, August 9
Pack up day, so we'll make the most of it and do a lake lap, of 60k before breakfast. This will give us plenty of time to pack our gear and bikes, and get on our way to our next destinations, with little stress. Drop off point will be Brescia Railway station.
If we do everything planned:we'll have climbed nearly 24,000 metres, over 16 different mountain passes, some of them 2 or even 3 times. Also worth noting is the minimal car time, achieved by riding between some of our locations. So after enjoying breakfast together, for all of those not staying on, it's pack-up time, and off to further destinations, arrivederci!
The following is a chart with the climb ascent details, in the direction we ride them:
This tour includes:
- All transport from Venice to Brescia for you, your bike and one bag, accommodation, all breakfasts and all dinners.
- You will also receive a full 2013 Topbike kit, also included are your experienced and knowledgeable guides, maps, training tips, coaching (if required) and mechanical back-up for your bike.
- See the full list of inclusions on all Topbike Tours
- Please pack your bike in a collapsible bag or disposable cardboard box.
[See our FAQ's and recommendations section on packing your bike]
- Please also see our recommended list of things to bring, it is most important to bring front and rear flashing lights.
- NB: The itinerary above is to be used as a guide only, as Topbike Tours are well known for making use of all (and creating some extra) opportunities, expect that variations from the above can happen at any time. Please note all distances are approx and subject to change.