Stelvio Challenge

Wednesday 05/09/2018 - Monday 10/09/2018



From Innsbruck, the unofficial capital of the Alps, to the elegant, lakeside town of Como, a popular tourist resort since Roman times, this journey crosses historic passes, great rivers and some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe. This is a region where distinct peoples and languages overlap, where frontiers have changed regularly and where customs collide. We will cross four international borders, pedal through three countries, see numerous ruined castles on rock promontories and follow trade routes that have served the people of the Alps for centuries.

This ride is undoubtedly challenging. Stelvio has a reputation for making cyclists suffer, but there are other, less famous cols that will also test your mettle – the famed Brenner pass, Passo Giovo and Passo di Foscagno are all on the route, as is the red-letter climb to the cyclists’ chapel of Madonna del Ghisallo, on a promontory high above the turquoise waters of Lake Como. There are also long leisurely descents, and even sections of excellent cycle path, which are a pleasure to pedal along.

The ride is supported: there will always be a vehicle and a guide nearby, to fix punctures, carry rain jackets and hand out snacks. Some days, we will stop in a pizzeria for lunch; on other days, we’ll picnic beside a lake shimmering with the reflection of white-capped, 3,000m peaks. At the end of every day, we’ll end up in a family run Alpine hotel serving simple, delicious, local food.

Dates

Departures between 05/09 - 10/09/2018

Price - £1500

(Based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room)

Supplements

 

Single room supplement - £250

Bike hire - £150

Extra nights in double/single room with breakfast:

in Lake Como - from £100/£85

 

Group Size

The group will be a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 people. We feel that this size of group works best as there will always be enough in the group for some good company but there won’t be so many people that it becomes overcrowded.

Accommodation

Accommodation is in clean and comfortable 3 or 4-star hotels or top end 2-star hotels when 3 stars aren’t available. If you are sharing a twin or a double room, then the price is £1700.00 If you would like your own space then you can choose the single room option (£2050).

Food & Drink

All your breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included in the price of the trip. Lunches will be provided each day in a cafe or restaurant or picnic lunches provided by the guides when the weather is good. Evening meals are provided at your accommodation or in a nearby restaurant. We also supply fruit, biscuits, cake, nuts etc in the support vehicle that you are welcome to have throughout the day as well as sports nutrition if required. Water will be in the support vehicle but any other drinks will have to be purchased in resort.

Support 

Each one of our Guided Road Cycling tours is supported by at least 1 qualified bike mechanic as well as 2 professional cycling guides to ride near the front and at the back of the group. The mechanic will be leap frogging the group and delivering the luggage at the end of each day.

 

Rob's Highlights

  • The Brenner Pass

  • Passo Giovo (Laufenpass)

  • Passo dello Stelvio and its 48 hairpins

  • The ski resort of Livigno 

  • Bernina Pass 

  • Lake Como (the climbs of Lombadia)

 

 

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Innsbruck

Innsbruck, the centre of Tyrolean culture for centuries, is situated in a great, flat-bottomed valley between flanks of towering mountains. From the airport in the western suburbs of the city, we will transfer to the hotel in Schönberg im Stubaital, 16km along the historic, old road, south towards the Brenner Pass and Italy. The Brenner Pass (1,375m) is one of the most historic and important passes in the eastern Alpine region. It has been in regular use since the end of the last Ice Age; from Roman times, it’s been one of Europe’s most important trade routes. Today, a four-lane motorway and a railway line take the bulk of the traffic over the Pass. We will follow the old, gently winding road.

Day 2: Schonberg im Stubaital - Silandro (Schlanders) (130 km)

After a good breakfast, we will continue along the old Brenner road, through pretty towns and villages like Gries am Brenner, where popes and dictators, kings and traders have broken their journeys before the final push to the pass itself. As the road was formerly a cart track, it is a gentle climb. After coffee on the pass, we’ll cross over the border into Italy and join the tarmac cycle path, for the descent to the picturesque, medieval town of Vipiteno (Sterzing). At the end of World War I, Italy was awarded this region, south of Brenner: today, many people in this part of of Südtirol still speak German as their first language, instead of Italian, and many towns and villages, confusingly, have two names. The first serious climb of the trip – approximately 1,000m of ascent to Passo Giovo (Jaufenpass) – starts in Vipiteno. From the 2,094m pass, the views down to Val Passiria are breathtaking. We descend, steeply at first though Alpine pastures and pine forests, then gently through a river valley to the former spa town of Merano, at the confluence of two rivers. Here, we head west, again following an excellent cycle path alongside the Adige river, through great apple orchards and vineyards, to the market town of Silandro (Schlanders).

Day 3: Silandro (Schlanders) - Livigno via Stelvio (100 km)

If yesterday wasn’t quite epic enough, today certainly will be. It begins gently, following the Adige river (Italy’s second longest river), to the foot of the mighty Stelvio pass. Much mythologized, Stelvio really is one of the greatest of all the Alpine passes and a must-climb for keen road cyclists. We will ascend from the eastern side, starting in Ponte di Stelvio – undoubtedly the best way up. There are 48 bends to negotiate, with a hefty 1,800m of climbing. Towards the top of the climb the views – through the famous section of hairpin bends up to the pass itself and across the valley to the glaciers gleaming in the sunlight – are wondrous. The descent has a bit of everything – tight hairpins, tunnels and long, straight sections. We turn off just before Bormio, heading east. After a late lunch, we’ll climb again: it is another 1,000m of ascent to reach Passo di Foscagno (2,291m), on the main Alpine watershed. The site of Livigno, the former farming village and smuggling hub turned ski resort, from high above on the pass will be very welcome. It’s all downhill to the hotel.

Day 4: Livigno - Gravedona (125 km)

Today is fair recompense for yesterday’s endeavours: there is a lot of downhill. It doesn’t start that way, though. We leave the resort, climb to the Livigno Pass (2,315m) and cross the border into Switzerland. There is a further short ascent to the Bernina Pass before the fun begins. Tracing the route of the famous Bernina Express train, we head down and down some more, to St Moritz. The quality of the road surface is very good. Passed the world renowned winter sports resort, on, on passed Lake Silvaplana and Lake Sils, we eventually come to the Malloja Pass, where another wonderful downhill section begins. The route chases through the Bergell Valley, crossing back over into Italy for the final time, to reach the historic town of Chiavenna. As the temperature rises, the intensity of the light changes too. Our destination today is a hotel on the shores of Lake Como.

Day 5: Gravedona - Como via Il Ghisallo (80 km)

Lake Como is shaped like an upside down Y. This morning, we’ll pedal to the junction of the two lower fjords and take the ferry across to the picturesque town of Bellagio, with its waterfront promenades and aristocratic palazzos. From here, we climb the famous 10km hill to the chapel of Madonna del Ghisallo. The climb features in the great ‘Il Lombardia’ pro race every year. The Madonna was declared the patroness of cycling by Pope Pius XII during the 1949 Giro d’Italia and today, the walls are decorated with bikes and jerseys donated by champions from all eras. There is one more climb, through hill villages and along quiet lanes, before a bracing descent back to the lake. Following the winding road along the shore, we’ll arrive amidst the Renaissance grandeur of Como city, a popular resort since the days of the Roman Empire and the end of our magnificent ride.

Day 6: Lake Como

Departure after breakfast.

 

Due to organisational reasons, weather conditions or provisions issued by local authorities, the itinerary may be subject to some changes before and/or during the holiday but you will be made aware of any changes ahead of time by the support team.

What's Included 

 

What's Not Included 

24 hour emergency back up support

5 nights in small & intimate hotels or B&B's

Full Board

Luggage transfers between hotels

2 Professional Cycling Guides

1 Bike Mechanic (including support vehicle)

Local Taxes

 

Flights

Bike Hire

Insurance

Airport Transfers

Drinks

 

 

 

What's Included

24 hour emergency back up support

5 nights in small & intimate hotels or B&B's

Full Board

Luggage transfers between hotels

2 Professional Cycling Guides

1 Bike Mechanic (including support vehicle)

Local Taxes

What's Not Included

Flights

Bike Hire

Insurance

Airport Transfers

Drinks

 

 

Testimonial 

A fantastic trip. - William

 

 

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