Piedmont is a region in the northwest corner of Italy that borders with France and Switzerland. Almost half of Piedmont can be described as mountainous while most of the remainder is considered hilly. Its terrain is higher and perhaps more challenging than the description "the foot of the mountains,” the literal translation of its name, might suggest. Its many mountain passes over the Alps make it a hidden gem for cyclists. Crossing over those passes, we will find ourselves in France to ride some iconic Tour de France passes, such as Galibier and Izoard. We will make it back to Italy via Col dell’Agnello (one of the toughest climbs in all of the Alps).
You will get to experience France and Italy in a single journey, marveling spectacular alpine views every day. Our tour, which takes us from elegant Turin – first capital of Italy - all the way to the turquoise shores of the Ligurian Sea, is not without challenges but with daily distances generally between only 50 and 60 miles, it should challenge riders just enough to experience mountain riding in a way that will become a positive milestone in their riding careers. The mountains of the Dolomites might comes to mind before the Western (French-Italian) Alps when considering a cycling destination, however the roads in this area have made – or broken – cycling legends for over a century. The Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia are at home on these passes and villages. However, it’s not going to be all riding.
We combine excellent riding through stunning scenery with superb cuisine, fine wine and relaxing evenings in beautiful and culturally-rich locations. If you love the mountains, there’s hardly any trip more rewarding that this itinerary anywhere in the world.
Non-riding companions are welcome. Get in touch for details.
Turin - 18 miles - Hilly
Bardonecchia - 60/31 miles - Mountains
After a 40 minute transfer and some more bike fitting – if necessary – it will be time to climb some mountains! The Colle de Finestre is atypical because it’s one of the few passes remaining on the Alps that is unpaved. It goes up at a grueling 9.1% average gradient. Some of the Giro champions have conquered the pink jersey on these switchbacks. Colle
Passes: Colle delle Finestre, Col Sestriere
Galibier - Briançon - 45 miles - Mountains
Passes: Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier
Izoard - Agnello - 52/27 miles - Mountains
Our queen stage with over 13,000 ft of elevation gain takes us back into Italy via Colle dell’Agnello (lamb pass). However, Agnello is preceded by the climb of the just as iconic Col Izoard, right above Briançon (2361 mt – 7,746 ft). The climb from Briançon to the col is 19 km (11.8 mi) in length, climbing 1,105 mt (3,625 ft) at an average gradient of 5.8%. Mountain pass cycling milestones are placed every kilometer. They indicate the current height, the height of the summit, the distance to the summit, as well as the average slope in the following kilometer. Do not forget to take a picture at the Coppi-Bobet memorial on the way down. Colle dell’Agnello is one of the longest and most beautiful climbs in Europe. The French side climbs for nearly 13 miles – it is the “easy” side - while the way down the Italian side is steep and very long, requiring concentration. As epic as the climb is, the pass itself is not glamorous (no shops selling jerseys, no coffee bars). Col Agnello is somewhat unknown and not heavily used. It is one of the many passes suggested as the route taken by Hannibal in his march, with elephants, to attack Rome at the start of the Second Punic War and a modern-era plaque, mounted on a rock on the French side, commemorates the event. Our overnight stay is at the mountain village of Sampeyre, an important Occitan cultural enclave. The cuisine of this valley is superb and you’ll be happy to refuel at the hotel restaurant after such a long day.
Passes: Col Izoard, Colle Agnello
Sampeyre - Cuneo - 51/35 miles - Mountains
From Sampeyre, in the Valle Varaita, we cross over the watershed with the Maira Valley. The valleys of the province of Cuneo are among the prettiest and wildest of the entire Alps. The climb of Col Sampeyre is breathtaking, both physiologically and figuratively, and
Passes: Col di Sampeyre
Finale Ligure - 59
We start with a transfer (30 min) to the hilltop town of Mondovì. You can fuel up with the local pastries and a cappuccino before you get going. Today’s ride takes us over the Ligurian Apennine Mountains and to the Mediterranean Sea and precisely to Finale Ligure, a town with white sand beaches and lush mountains. A long, winding descent takes us to Finalborgo, the old part of Finale Ligure. This charming corner of Liguria dates back to medieval times in its actual shape, but every historical period and domination has left its mark and can be seen in the original architectural attributes, giving it a timeless feel. It has been recognized as one of the best-preserved hamlets in Italy. We reach the promenade and we will regroup next to the lively Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II where you can have a gelato or relax on the beach. Jumping in the water after the ride is optional, yet highly recommended! Outstanding seafood dinner and final celebrations.
You will ride from Turin to the Alps between France and Italy and down to the fascinating coastline of Liguria. Those climbs have been featured on the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. On the final stage, we ride to the Ligurian Sea. The riding terrain is demanding and it involves plenty of climbing as you can imagine. Most days will qualify as “epic” as the Alps provide no place to hide when the road goes up. Every stage is also going to be very different and you will get to discover some lesser-known passes such as Colle delle Finestre with its unpaved section, and Col Sampeyre, which links two beautiful valleys of the Cuneo Province. Izoard and Galibier will make cycling history come alive switchback after switchback. Skilled bike handlers will undoubtedly enjoy the downhills whereas less confident riders will be expected to exercise caution.