This Tour is a variant on the classic Route des Grandes Alpes. Starting near Geneva, we will follow the Route des Grandes Alpes for the first two days in France before crossing into Italy. We will tackle many of the greatest climbs of the Alps, including iconic climbs of both the Tour and the Giro. The tour finishes in SanRemo, following the final 64km of “La Classicissima” Milan-San Remo along the coast and over the Cipressa and Poggio.
The major climbs include: Cormet de Roselend (1,967m), Col de l’Iséran (2,764m), Col du Mont Cenis (2,081m), Colle delle Fenestre (2,178m), Colle di Sampeyre (2,284m), Colle della Fauniera (2,511m).
During the 6-day trip you can expect to ride around 110km and climb 2,500m per day. If you do all the climbs you will ride a total of 645km and climb more than 16,300m+. Shorter options are available on some stages for those who would like to do less. You will be supported every metre of the way by the experienced Alpine Cols team riding with you and the two support vehicles never far away
We think this is a wonderful tour through unspoiled parts of Italy, enjoying the best the country has to offer. We will stay in beautiful hotels and will eat wonderfully well. It is a relaxed, end-of season trip and not a coaching camp (although coaching is always available on request).
Is this trip for you?
It’s not a trip for beginner cyclists, but you do not need to be either fast or young. Similar trips have been completed by many men and women in their sixties and even seventies. The main quality required is endurance and the ability to ride for 4 to 7 hours per day for 6 days.
We will have our own masseurs to help with recovery. The rides are fully guided and at your own pace. There will be 3 guides for no more than 10 guests, so you will be able to ride with people of a similar speed. All our guides are qualified cycling coaches. You can thus receive plenty of tips and feedback on your cycling, with suggestions for pacing, descending, nutrition and of course recovery.
The support vehicles are nearby if you need support, and you are welcome to jump aboard if you are too tired to complete the day’s ride. The trip is absolutely non-competitive. There will be plenty of time to take photographs or to stop for a coffee, if you so wish.
La Clusaz to Bourg Saint Maurice, over the col des Aravis, the col des Saisies and the Cormet de Roselend (88km, 2,560m)
A classic stage in the Route des Grandes Alpes! We get straight down to business: the climbs keep coming and keep getting tougher on this challenging ride from La Clusaz to Bourg St Maurice, in the Tarantaise valley. The climb to the col des Aravis with its easy gradient begins immediately and is soon followed by a sweeping descent to the start of the climb to the ski station Les Saisies. Descending from Les Saisies, we can enjoy the view of Mont Blanc as well as the authentic Savoy village of Hauteluce before tackling the final climb, the stunningly beautiful Cormet de Roselend.
Bourg Saint Maurice to Susa, over the col de l'Iséran and the col du Mont Cenis. (116km, 3,100m)
Over the mountains to Italy! The col de l’Iseran is the highest road pass in Europe, at 2,746m, and it is a long way up from Bourg St Maurice: almost 50km of near-continuous climbing! The toughest part is the last 11km, from Val d’Isère to the top. After the long, steep descent from the col we continue an easier descent to Lanslebourg, where we turn off and cross into Italy via the beautiful climb to the col du Mont Cenis. The descent from the col brings us to Susa, our first stop in Italy. Be ready for the pasta!
Susa to Saluzzo, over the colle delle Finestre (129km, 3,200m)
Follow Chris Froome’s 2018 Giro exploits! Straight up from Susa, we tackle one of the giants of the Giro. The Finestre is a tough climb, relentlessly steep, made tougher by the final 8km on gravel. The surface is hard-packed and perfectly rideable, but definitely harder than tarmac. This is where Chris Froome made his 80km solo break and won the Giro in 2018. The gravel section finishes on the summit and thankfully the descent is delightful, entirely on tarmac. There are two alternative routes for those who prefer not to climb the Finestre : one skirts the mountains (121km,1600m), the other includes the Montoso (135km, 2400m). You can make your choice at the briefing.
Saluzzo to Cuneo, over the colle di Sampeyre and the colle delle Fauniera (132km, 4,100m)
The Queen Stage! After an initial warm-up on the Colletto di Isasca, we head deep into historic Giro territory for the Queen Stage, with two huge climbs over 2000m. First up is the colle di Sampeyre (2,284m), which was crossed by the Giro in 1995 and 2003 (when Marco Pantani fell on the descent). It is long and hard with an irregular gradient. This is followed by the Collle della Fauniera (2,511m), which the Giro used in 1999 and 2003. The centre point of the GranFondo Fausto Coppi, it is equally hard and there is a fitting memorial to Pantani on the summit. The two climbs taken together are a significant challenge, so for those in need of recovery we propose an alternative route to enjoy a much easier ride (60km, 930m).
Cuneo to Garessio, over the San Giacomo and the colle di Casotto (80km, 1,650m)
Into the heart of Liguria! A relatively easy ride after yesterday’s Queen Stage, Stage 5 sees us leave behind the plains of northern Italy to start up the final
barrier before the sea. The stage begins nice and easy, with the first real effort coming after 32km. We must then make a succession of three climbs, each longer than the last and taking us successively higher. The roads here are delightful and little-used, sometimes in the forest and sometimes opening up magnificent views. The descent from the colle di Casotto brings us to our final stop before San Remo, in the small town of Garessio.
Garessio to SanRemo, over the colle San Barnardo, the Cipressa and the Poggio (100km, 1,700m)
The coast road to SanRemo. Our final stage route follows the last 64 km of Milan SanRemo, along the coast and over the iconic last two climbs, the Cipressa and the Poggio. We will finish right in the centre of SanRemo at the same spot as the professional race. But first we must reach the coast… After all the climbing we have done, the 6.3 km colle San Bernado will seem a relative formality. From here the Mediterranean will be in sight, and we will enjoy more than 20 km of descending to reach sea-level before turning right and following the coast road to San Remo.