Day by day:
0: your countdown to the tour is over. It's Saturday and you
need to be in Milan by 4pm. We shall finalise the
paperwork and pick up the bikes from our depot. The welcome dinner
starts at 8pm. Let the fun begin!!
Day 1: after a quick highway transfer to Cuneo we tackle the first section
of the Alps, the Maritime Alps over the Col de la Lombarde (Col =
Pass in French) and the
magnificent Col de la Bonnette to reach Barcelonnette. The Col de la
Bonnette contends to the Italian Stelvio pass and to Col de
l'Iseran, the highest road in
Europe. The cunning French added a scenic loop road to the pass These two
passes offer great riding and stunning scenery as they are part of
French National Park of Mercantour.
Day 2: we leave
our luggage at the hotel and ride a loop south of Barcelonnette to
Gorges of the Verdon river, it's a
really impressive canyon for size and depth. On the way there we
ride through Digne les Bains and witness the famous lavender fields
of Provence. On the way back to Barcellonnette we shall witness the Gorges de Dalluis,
an amazing valley cut by the river Var.
Day 3: we
leave Barcelonnette and ride to Guillestre along the west bank of
Lac (Lake) Serre Ponçon. Just passed Guillestre, we head for an
amazing pass: the Col de l'Izoard. It offers an incredible natural
spectacle. At the end of this pass
the town of meridian clocks, Briançon, offers an interesting break
from riding and you'll be able to enjoy a stroll though its
historical centre. Our ride reaches the Col de
Lautaret and then keeps climbing over the
infamous (Tour de France toughest stage)
Col de Gallibier to reach
the small village of Valloire, our stop for the night.
Day 4: After we have crossed the
Col de l'Iseran, the highest paved
mountain pass in the Alps (13 meters more than Stelvio), and
ridden through Val d'Isere, we cross the Petit St Bernard into Italy
and stop the night in Courmayeur at the foothill of Mont blanc on
the italian side.
5: we have a chance to take the gondola from outside of our
hotel to the top of Montblanc. The views from the top of the highest
mountain in Europe are amazing and well worth the cost of the
ticket. Our ride takes us to Aosta (probably our lunch stop) and
then over the over the Grand St Bernard pass. At the Grand St
Bernard we visit the hostel at pass height, famous for the
dogs. These generous dogs originate from here and were used in
snow storms to find
We then cross into Switzerland and ride the Rhone river valley all
the way to its source, the Rhone glacier by the Furkapass. This will
be the last pass of the day and will lead us to Andermatt for our
second two night stop over.
Day 6: ("rest
day" on the passes) the
Swiss call it the "Paessekarusel" because you draw a big circle on
the map by hopping from one pass to another, but also because it's
like a biker's amusement park! We start with the
Gotthard pass, riding parts of the
old "tremola" down hill. It is called "tremola" because on parts of
it there are still the original cobble stones (tremare = trembling).
We then go for the Neufenenpass, the Grimmsellpass and finally the
Sustenpass back into Andermatt. Great views and great riding!
Day 7: It is
our last day of part 1, we return to our starting point in Milan.
But before this we ride the 6th of the "big 6", the Oberalppass
immediately followed by the Lukmanierpass that takes us back into the
Italian speaking area of Switzerland. From Bellinzona we head for
Locarno and then cross the border back into Italy at the top of lake
Maggiore. We ride its coastlines on our way back to Milan.
8: it's "arrivederci" to those who are only doing Part
1 and "benvenuti" to those starting Part 2. The route
starts by heading north to Lake Como to Bellaggio and then up the
eastern coastine of Lake Como to Chiavenna. From here we enter
Engadine over the Maloyapass and reach our next double stop over in
Livigno over the Bernina pass and the Forcola of Livigno. We will be
in Italy, where the food is good, the fuel prices cheap, and a
cup of espresso is good and no daylight robbery... Well fuel prices
in Livigno are cheap beacuse it's a tax haven : ). 1€/litre
can't be bad!
9: The loop ride out of Livigno sees us ride back in Switzerland
on the Albulapass the
long valley of the Landwasser river to Davos and then over the
Fluelapass back ino Engadine. The Ofenpass will take us back to
Livigno through a tunnel, or for the more mile munching of you to the
Santa Maria pass, to Stelvio, and then back to Livigno over the
10: we leave Livigno over the Passo del Foscagno and attack the
Stelvio pass from the Bormio side. Once we have taken in the
altitude and the sites of this magnificent pass, eaten the
compulsory bratwurst at the kiosk, we take the staircase (48
switchbacks) down to Prato allo Stelvio, head for Merano and then on
to Vipiteno over the Jaufenpass. A short easy run down the
Brennerpass and Val Pusteria to reach Val Badia, will take us
to the heart of the Dolomites and to our triple night stopover in the small
village of Colfosco at the foothill of the Passo Gardena.
11: Our first loop ride takes us to Cortina d'Ampezzo on the
Veneto side of the Dolomites. After a short visit to this exclusive
resort, we head for the Tre
Cime di Lavaredo along the private toll road for the best views.
Fascinating are the WW1 fortifications built into the side of the
12: the loop takes us south to the Pale
di San Martino and more exceptional pass riding in this stunning
area of the Alps.
13: we say goodbye to the Dolomites and head south. We reach the
Brenta Group through the Val d'Ega with a short stop at the Carezza
lake. Use the Passo della Mendola to reach Val di Non and lake
Molveno, with it's spectacular alpine lake colours. We finally reach
Riva del Garda on Lake Garda for our penultimate stop.
14: it's saturday our tour brings us back to Milan over some
minor Italian alpine passes. We still ride lake Idro and lake Iseo
before catching the A4 in Bergamo which will rapidly take us back to
home base. Time to say Arrivederci with the CIMT farewelll dinner!
are free to fly home or reach your next destination.