Classic Italian Climbs - Venice to Brescia

Classic Italian Climbs - Feast of Ascension 2018


*This Tour Next Runs in 2018

With Topbike's ‘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 across the passes of Montegrappa, Campolongo, Pordoi (twice), Gardena, Sella, Marmolada, Stelvio, Mortirolo, Gavia (twice) Passo Maniva & Croce Domini.

Magnificant Views - Classic Italian Climbs

Topbike Tours - Classic Italian Climbs
This Was Our 2016 Itinerary

Topbike Tours 2016 'Climbs of the Giro'
01/07/2016 – 11/07/2016

Pickup: 10.00am, July 1, Venice Marco Polo Airport
Drop off: 12.00 noon, July 11, Brescia Railway station

(or other location if arranged prior)

Friday, July 1

We'll meet at Venice Marco Polo Airport (or another point, if pre-arranged) before transferring in the Topbike air conditioned mini-bus to Crocetta del Montello (100k, 1.5h). After assembling bikes, we’ll take in a small ride in our local environs, along roads used by many local pro and amateur cyclists. For the next two nights we will stay and dine in a local agriturismo.

Accommodation - Italian Farm-stay.
Ride: easy, local ride.

Topbike riders out on a ride along roads used by local and pro cyclists - Classic Italian Climbs

Saturday, July 2

First up in the climbing department is one of the 2014 Giro highlights, the GPM of Monte Grappa, the base of which is 20k from home and is a climb many Topbike Tour clients are familiar with, as it is must-do, if ever we are in the region. Scorching sun, thick fog, varying grades, a ‘grapperia’ halfway up the climb, and a peak of 1775m, are all attributes that add to the experience.

Ride: 100k, 2,200m ascent.

Today we’ll ride the 26k TT course, used in the 2014 Giro, Stage 19.

Topbike riders in the Dolomites - Classic Italian Climbs

Sunday, July 3

Today we’ll be moving house. We’ll say goodbye to Crocetta del Montello, aiming to cover 120k, and venture deep into the Dolomites. It’ll be as good as any grand tour mountain stage can be. We’ll warm up with nearly 40k of (river following) gentle ascent before starting up into the Valley of Agordina. Here we’ll climb steadily, up towards the base of the ‘Marmolada’. However, we’ll leave the Marmolada for another day, and continue north towards the Sella Ronda, and our destination town of Arabba.

Ride: 120k, 2500m ascent

Monday July 4

After yesterday’s epic we’ll be looking for an easier day today, so we’ve lined up the 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 track up Pordoi, onto Sella, Gardena and Campolongo. It is the most spectacular 55k loop you will ever complete on a bicycle, guaranteed. While this is not quite a rest day, it’s the next best thing (on a Classic Italian Climbs tour).

Ride: 55k, 1600m ascent

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.

Classic Italian Climbs  - Passo Sella

Tuesday July 5

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 (for the 2nd time in as many days) to return to Arabba for our final night of rest on the Sella Ronda.

Ride: 74k, < 2000m ascent

Classic Italian Climbs  - Topbike riders cycling the route to climb of The Marmolada

Wednesday July 6

We’ll depart early in the vehicles today, as we transport over to Prato allo Stelvio, (drive 155k, 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 85k from our ride start.

Ride: 85k, 3500m ascent

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 pro-team’s training camp is held in the shadows of Stelvio.

Topbike Tours in the Dolomites - Classic Italian Climbs, fully supported cycling holiday

Thursday July 7

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.

Ride: 110k, 3500m ascent

Lance Armstrong used to train on Mortirolo in 'mufti', back in his heyday.

Topbike Tours in the Ponte di Legno region

Friday July 8

TGIF! 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 three nights at the base of the Dolomites.

Saturday July 9

Saturday 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 of ascent).

Ride: Total 135k, with 3000m ascent

Sunday July 10

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.

Ride: ~ 80k, with 1000m ascent

Monday July 11

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 (or other location if arranged prior).

Lago Iseo - riding the 60km loop

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.

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:

Pordoi - Arabba
Pordoi – Canazei
Plan de Corones
Gavia – P d Legno
Gavia – Bormio
Croce Domini
Passo Maniva
2242 m
Ascent in metres
stats the
Gradient %
way we
7 %
Max %
are going


This tour includes:

  • All transport from Venice toBresciafor you, your bike and one bag, accommodation, all breakfasts and all dinners.
  • You will also receive a full 5 piece 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 note:

  • 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.

Topbike Tours - Classic Italian Climbs Tour Map

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