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Stelvio and Classic Italian Climbs Cycle

Italy Cycle INTENSE
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About the Challenge

SMALL GROUP CYCLE CHALLENGE

This challenging and truly stunning Italian cycling adventure takes us through the spectacular mountains and lakes of Northern Italy.  We set off around beautiful Lake Iseo, and tackle the legendary climbs of the Passo di Gavia (2621m) and the short but fearfully steep Passo di Mortirolo. A brief detour into Switzerland brings us back over the Passo dello Stelvio (2758m) - the second highest paved mountain pass in Europe, and one of the most impressive roads in the Alps. 

This epic ride ends at Lake Como, with wonderful views and one last climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo, with it's Chapel at the summit - a shrine to the great heroes of professional cycling.  The challenge has been designed by cyclists for cyclists - quite simply this is one of the trips we want to go and cycle! It's classic, it's hard but it will be one of the top cycling experiences you can have! 

Find out more about our Small Group Cycle challenges 


Stelvio & Classic Italian Climbs Cycle Challenge

6 DAYS
  • We meet at the hotel in Bergamo (approx 1 hour from Milan), where you can check in from 4pm onwards and meet the rest of the group. After some time to assemble your bikes and ensure all is in order for tomorrow, you are free to sight-see.

    Bergamo is a lovely town lying at the foot of the mountains in Northern Lombardy; if you have time, the cobbled streets and historic buildings of the upper town are well worth exploring. We meet up in the evening for dinner and a detailed trip briefing.  (Flights and transfers to Hotel not included, Lunch not included)

  • Leaving the town behind, we ride east through small villages and fields, the contours of the green hills rising around us. It’s initially fairly flat, with a few twisting, shady climbs to stretch our legs. We reach Lake Iseo, one of the quieter of the Italian lakes, and enjoy a wonderfully scenic ride alongside it, climbing fairly steadily as we reach its northern end.

    Our gradual ascent continues – punctuated by a few short sharp climbs – through the Camonica Valley, a wide forested valley dotted with beautiful villages. As we gain height the scenery becomes more impressive, with wide-reaching vistas out over the forested peaks, and glimpses of more dramatic peaks in the distance, while village houses look distinctively Alpine.

    The gradient ramps up as we come to the upper valley, and into the Valtellina, climbing to Aprica. Our day ends with a wonderful descent to the small town of Tirano. Night hotel.  (Lunch not included)

    Cycle approx 150km (92 miles)

  • Our legs might be tired after yesterday’s long day, but the route profile today is seriously tough! We set off on quiet roads through the valley towards Mazzo di Valtellina, at the base of the Mortirolo. The Passo di Mortirolo (1852m) is a relatively short climb, and first featured in the Giro only in 1990, but its steep gradients have given it a fearsome reputation. On the ascent we pass the monument to much-loved Italian cyclist Marco Pantani. Our descent to the Val Camonica gives us some respite, but it’s not long before we start climbing again, as we hit the southern slopes of the Passo di Gavia (2621m).

    Unlike the Mortirolo, the Gavia has been a regular feature of the Giro since 1960, when it was little more than a dirt road. Cycling history has been made on these slopes, and however tough you find it, take inspiration from following in the pedalstrokes of the elite! This side is the toughest, with gradients kicking up to 16%, and from the first hairpin bend it’s a relentless climb.

    Within a few miles we are in wild mountain scenery, surrounded by panoramas of boulder-strewn pastures, tumbling streams, serene mountain lakes and jagged peaks, often still streaked with snow. After a well-earned breather at the pass, we enjoy a long, more steady descent to the small town of Bormio. Night hotel.  (Lunch not included)

    Cycle approx 94km (58 miles)

  • Another high pass today, though the Passo di Foscagno (2291m) offers a long, relatively gradual climb – a good stamina-building effort between the tougher days! Our road takes us through Trepalle, the highest village in Italy, and the lovely town of Livigno, before crossing into Switzerland. It’s an easy downhill roll along the Swiss Val Müstair before we pass back into Italy. The scenery is wonderful, with lush green pastures and small red-roofed Tyrolean villages with striking churches, set against the high rocky peaks. We eventually come to Prato, at the foot of the Stelvio, buoyed up for tomorrow’s big effort. Night hotel.  (Lunch not included)

    Cycle approx 98km (60 miles)

  • The Passo della Stelvio (2758m) is the second-highest paved road in Europe and often listed among the best roads to experience in the Alps; its hairpin bends decorate the mountainside with painful-looking regularity. The first few miles from Prato are fairly moderate, with the climbing starting in earnest from the first hair-pin bend. Only 47 more to go! The scenery is again dramatic, and you should pace yourself to enjoy it! The last section, with its famous views of the tightly-packed, stony hair-pin bends and the pass, still 600m above us, can be one of the best sights you’ll enjoy on a bike – or one of the worst! After time at the pass for the obligatory photos, we enjoy an adrenaline-pumping descent to Bormio and the sweeping valley below. From here our route is steadily downhill on quiet roads as we cruise once more through the Valtellina, all the way to the shores of Lake Como. Night hotel.  (Lunch not included)

    Cycle approx 162 km (100 miles)

  • The shores of Lake Como provide a scenic backdrop for our short morning spin – a stunning way to start our last day. A short ferry ride across the lake brings us to Bellagio, and then it’s a short, steep climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo, where the chapel on the summit has become a shrine to cyclists. Made famous by the Tour of Lombardy and Giro d’Italia, this is a challenging last climb, but the views are spectacular! We make time to pay our respects at the hilltop chapel, where an eclectic array of cycling artefacts and an eternal flame commemorates the memory of cyclists who have died. We then enjoy a wonderful descent, and the remaining miles to Como are downhill almost all the way. We finish with a wonderful lunch. From Como there is plenty of public transport back to Milan for your return home.  (Dinner not included)

    Cycle approx 62km (38 miles)


Prices may vary depending on date.

  • Available pricing options

    Full Payment Option
    Registration Fee £249 Fundraising target - Tour Cost £1,050 Airline Taxes - Book now

    Pricing Explained

    Registration Fee (i)
    Payable on booking

    Fundraising Target (i)
    Paid 10 or 6 weeks prior to trip departure

    Trip Cost (i)
    Payable 8 or 4 weeks prior to trip departure

     

    WHAT'S INCLUDED

    • All meals except where specified (breakfast and dinner will be provided at hotels each day along with food for lunch you can take with you
    • Snacks en-route.
    • Accommodation on a twin-share basis.
    • Discover Adventure leader, mechanic and roving crew member for support/ coaching and support vehicle.
    • Return bike courier from your specified address to start point of challenge, via Discover Adventure office for packing.
    • Mapping, GPX files and route information.

     


    WHAT'S EXCLUDED

    • Three meals as specified in the itinerary
    • Travel insurance
    • Flights
    • Bicycle
    • Cycle helmet (compulsory) and water bottles
    • Personal spending money, souvenirs and drinks
    • Fees for any optional sites, attractions or activities
    • Any applicable surcharges as per Terms and Conditions
    Download Challenge Details

Detailed Information

  • Group Size - Small Group Cycles only

    This challenge has been designed specifically for small groups. They can run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 participants.  We have capped the number of participants on this trip to 15 so that our crew can concentrate on client experience and give coaching on route.

  • Accommodation is usually on a twin-share basis in hotels convenient to our route. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don't know anyone else in the group don't worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller in a shared room.

    There may be a limited number of single rooms subject to request, on a first-come first-served basis, after you have booked. Extra charges will apply.

  • We usually stay in hotels or lodges of a 2-3* standard or equivalent. Standards may vary between the hotels but they are generally comfortable and convenient for our route. Hotels are often on the outskirts of towns to minimise unnecessary extra mileage and avoid traffic.

  • The food provided is plentiful and will give you plenty of energy. Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.

    All food is included except where specified. Dinners are generally eaten in the hotel. A packed baguette for lunch can be arranged with your crew or you are free to stop en-route and enjoy some of the local fayre. Please let us know of any dietary requirements well in advance.

    A roaming vehicle will provide additional water and snacks to boost your energy during the ride - these will replace our standard water-stops which you may have experienced on previous challenges. On climbs, large water barrels may be left en-route. 

    This system will enable our crew to provide you with greater support and coaching during the ride. 

  • Your trip will be led by an experienced Discover Adventure leader and a supporting crew member for groups of over 12 participants. Our leaders are selected for their knowledge and experience, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises; they are also trained in first aid. The crew will have mobile phones and/or radios where appropriate, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. The support vehicle will be with the group all of the time, and  will carry all luggage and spares.

    The route will be supplied as a GPX file and therefore there will be no route marking by way of orange arrows (helping us to reduce our carbon footprint). 

    You will also have access to the the route via Google Maps which will show where your position is relative to the route - therefore helping you get back on track if you go off course. This will also show you the location of upcoming climbs and water-stops. 

     

  • Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.

  • For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Preparing for the Challenge

  • Our route varies from rolling valley roads to tough mountain ascents. The main three are designated Hors Category, the toughest classification in pro cycling; moreover, the Gavia and Stelvio have been frequently designated by the Giro d’Italia as the Cima Coppi, the highest point on the race.

    We ride mainly on small quiet roads. Traffic is light most of the time but be vigilant for traffic and other cyclists, especially in poor visibility or on narrow mountain roads. Distances are long considering the terrain, with a 100-mile day. You should make sure you are fit enough to manage these distances especially given the demanding terrain. Road bikes are the most suitable on this trip, with gear ratios able to cope with the demands of the 16% gradients on the Mortirolo.

    It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.
  • We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

  • Participants who sign on to these trips must meet the following criteria:

    • Cycle at least 100miles per day at an average pace of 20km per hour, over an undulating route. Failure to do so may result in receiving significantly less support from the challenge leader

    • Completed previous multi-day cycle trips

    • Confidently and efficiently fix a puncture by replacing the inner tube 

    • Confidently navigate whilst riding using a Garmin or mobile phone app

    • Ridden a Category 1 or HC (Hors catégorie) climb before and have the right gear set up for this - note, this may mean having a climbing cassette fitted to your bike

    • Must be able to carry adequate clothing to cope with mountainous weather - jacket, arm and leg warmers, gloves and under hat

    • Must be able to confidently descend using drop handlebars or have their bike set up with secondary brakes

  • Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check requirements on our website; please ensure you allow plenty of time.

    Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

  • Your bike will be couriered out to the start point and back to Discover Adventure HQ by Discover Adventure. This service is incorporated into your trip cost.

    Your bike will be collected from your chosen address by courier and it is your responsibility to pack your bike into a suitable bike bag or box for transit and ensure it is ready for collection 1 week prior to your trip departure. It will then be delivered to Discover Adventure HQ where it will be professionally re-packed and driven to the challenge starting point.

    At the end of the trip, your bike will be brought back to Discover Adventure HQ, repacked into your bike bag or box and delivered to your chosen return address (allow 7 working days from the final day of your trip). Please ensure someone is available to sign for the receipt of your bike at your chosen address.

     

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