Italian Alps & Dolomites: Zoncolan to Mortirolo
- Guided 8 Nights
- Arrival - Venice
- Departure - Milan
- Difficulty - Challenging - Hard
- Price - €1990
- Dates - June - September
This challenging cycling holiday crosses the high mountains of the Italian Alps and Dolomites. It is a tour for those of you who love to climb, taking in some of the most famous (and infamous) ascents in Europe.
After arriving in Venice, the cycling begins by tackling the mighty Zoncolan, before heading west over great climbs such as Passo di Giau, Passo Pordoi, Fedaia, Stelvio and Gavia. The final challenge of the holiday is the legendary Mortirolo.
In addition to beautiful mountainous cycling routes, this tour gives you the opportunity to explore three of Italy's Northern Regions, each with their own distinctive culture. But all offering fantastic hospitality and fine gastronomy.
This is a great tour for riders who like to conquer the most challenging road climbs, and offers another option for those of you who have already tackled our Pyrenees and Picos de Europa cycling tours.
Check out our (very long) video of cycling in the Dolomites and Italian Alps below:
Day 1 - VeniceWe pick you up from Venice airport or train station and transfer you to the small town of Ovaro in the Carniche Alps. The Carniche Alps is one of the quietest and most tranquil areas of northern Italy, with several great climbs to tackle.
Depending on your arrival time, there are options to either take look around Venice before your transfer, or to go for a short circular cycle ride in the afternoon.
Day 2 – Monte Zoncolan & Monte CrostisThe first full day in the saddle offers you the chance to do either one or two of the toughest climbs that professional cycling has to offer. First up is the infamous Monte Zoncolan; a real brute which has featured numerous times in the Giro d'Italia in recent years.
It is only 10km long, but the average gradient of 11.9% makes it a challenge for anybody.
If you have the energy there is the option to extend the route to include the beautiful Monte Crostis. You will climb the easier side of the mountain (17km at 5.5%), but the gradients are inconsistent, making it a deceptively tough challenge.
Monte Crostis was due to be included in the 2011 Giro, but was removed after complaints from riders claiming that the narrow descent was too dangerous. For racing they may have a point, but when taken at a more leisurely pace, the climb is safe and one of real beauty, with stunning views stretching over the border into Austria. Zoncolan Route: 49km (1,700m elevation)
Crostis Extension: +25km (1,050m)
Day 3 – Sella Ciampigotto & Tre Cime di LavaredoThere is the option to do three climbs today as the route heads west, through the Tre Cime Natural Park in to the heart of the Dolomites. The day begins with a long, gentle ascent over the Sella Ciampigotto.
The second climb of the day is to Tre Croci; a delightful 12km ascent averaging a fairly pleasant 6% and with stunning views of the Tre Cime mountains. From here you can descend into the lively town of Cortina d'Ampezzo where we stay for the evening.
The more ambitious amongst you can extend the route to Tre Cime itself – home to three distinctive peaks to which the climb owes its name. This is a fairly short extension, but a tough one. In fact, the great Eddy Merckx named Tre Cime as the hardest climb he ever did (although he did race in a pre-Zoncolan, pre-Motirolo era!). Its unremarkable statistics (7.6km at 8%), hide the inconsistencies, including a vicious kilometre at 14% near to the top. However, this is one of the most spectacular climbs in the Dolomites and we would certainly encourage you to find the energy to at least climb the easier slopes at the beginning. Tre Cime was last used in the 2013 Giro, with Vincenzo Nibali taking the stage win and securing the Maglia Rosa.
Sella Campigotto & Tre Croci Route: 89km (2,250m)
Tre Cime Extension: +19km (600m)
Day 4 – Passo di GiauToday is a slightly easier day, giving you a chance to recover slightly from the challenging start of the tour. Nevertheless, there is still one tough climb, the legendary Passo di Giau.
Rising straight up from Cortina, the Giau averages 8% for nearly 10km and has become a Giro favourite in recent years. From here there is a rolling route to the lively village of Arabba, with the option of an extension to Passo Falzarego.
Passo di Giau Route: 49km (1,500m)
Falzarego Extension: + 20km (900m)
Day 5 – Sella RondaToday you will ride the most famous route in the Dolomites – the Sella Ronda. This 50km loop comprises of four ascents – Pordoi, Sella, Gardena and Campolongo – with barely a metre of flat road from start to finish.
These iconic climbs have all featured many times in the Giro d'Italia and, although none of them are particularly challenging individually, when combined they make for a tough day in the saddle. The scenery here is stunning; Passo Sella is probably the highlight, but there are incredible views at almost every single point throughout the route.
Sella Ronda: 53km (2,100m) Extensions: Various
Day 6 – Passo Fedaia & NigrapassThe route today tackles another two of the greatest climbs in the Dolomites. First up is the Passo di Fedaia, a beautiful climb characterized by the stunning Sotoguda Gorge and its tough final 5km.
After a fun descent and short valley section, we begin the second climb to Nigrapass. The false flat at the top of the Nigrapass is really spectacular, with panoramic views of the famous 'Rose Garden' mountain formations.
The day finishes with a long and enjoyable descent to the elegant town of Bolzano.
Fedaia & Nigrapass: 104km (2,450m)
Day 7 – Adige Valley & Passo dello StelvioToday is a long day in distance, but the majority is through the flat, but stunning Adige valley. Here you ride through beautiful vineyards on a cycle route running alongside the Adige river. It is certainly a change of pace from previous days, but is a great opportunity to really take in the scenery.
However, be careful, because there is a sting in the tail. The day finishes with one of the highest road climbs in Europe – the mighty Passo dello Stelvio. You will ascend the classic side, complete with 48 hairpin bends, for 24km to the 2758m summit. This is one of cycling's great climbs and it is a really nice one to ride, with the gradient very consistent – averaging 7.4% but almost never exceeding 10%. Stelvio has been used numerous times in the Giro and became an instant hit with fans from the first time it was included in 1953, when legendary Italian Fausto Coppi rode away to victory.
The day finishes with a fast descent into the charming town of Bormio.
Adige Valley & Stelvio Route: 126km (2,460m)
Litznerspitze Balcony Road Extension: + 15km (700m)
Day 8 – Passo di Mortirolo & Passo di GaviaThis is the final day of the tour, so we would strongly encourage you to attempt both of these two epic climbs. However, the route is split so that you can tackle just one of them if you wish to.
The full route begins with a gentle descent through the Adda valley. The leisurely pace, however, abruptly comes to a halt as you tackle the Mortirolo Pass (12.5km at 10.5%). This is the classic side of the ascent, beginning from the village of Mazzo di Valtellina, and is one of the most challenging climbs in cycling.
After a descent and, quite frankly, too short ride through the gentle Oglio valley, the Passo di Gavia quickly looms large. Very large. At 2,621m altitude, this stands just behind the Stelvio as the highest road pass in the region. The climb from this side is 17.3km at an average gradient of 8%.
The Gavia is exceptionally beautiful – wild and open at the top – it is also exposed to the elements, be that sun or rain. From the top of the Gavia it is downhill all the way into Bormio, in time for a well-deserved birra.
Gavia Only: 51km (1,450m)
Mortirolo Only: 76km (1,600m)
Day 9 - Departure / MilanAfter breakfast we transfer you to Milan-Bergamo airport in time for your flight home.
Prices & Dates
|Price (per person)||Single Supplement||Bike Hire|
Guided TourWe currently have no set dates for this tour, however, we would be more than happy to run it as a private guided tour.
Private guided tours normally require a minimum of six people (including non-riders); however, there is some flexibility with this. Price for this tour depends on the exact level of accommodation you would like, but is aruond €1450 per person in a twin room.
Please contact us for more details, or to arrange a private guided tour starting on any date.
The following is included in the tour:
- Eight nights accommodation in double, twin or single room with en-suite. Please see price list for details of single supplement.
- Transfer to and from the arrival/departure points
- Continental breakfast every day
- Luggage transferred between hotels
- Detailed maps and route information for each day, with clearly marked points of interest.
- Route extensions every day for those of you who wish to cycle
- Hire of bicycles (see here for details)
- Lunches each day
The following are optional extras available for an additional charge:
- Evening Meals
The following is not included in the tour
- Any transfers not stated above
- Travel Insurance
- Entry to any attractions (e.g. museums, churches) except were explicitly stated
Frequently Asked Questions
Please browse through some of the frequently asked questions about this cycling tour. If you have any further questions, or would like any more information, please contact us and we will answer by email.
How far do I cycle each day on this tour?
The daily distance varies from a minimum of around 40km on some days, up to 125km on the longest days. The longest days, however, are not necessarily the most challenging - the vertical altitude gain and the gradients are the main challenges in this tour.
How difficult is this tour?
This tour is rated as challenging to hard. The routes is mostly in high mountains and includes some of the most spectacular and challenging climbs in Northern Italy.
If you would like to do a slightly less challenging tour in the region, please let us know and we can adjust the itinerary accordingly.
Can I personalise or change aspects of this tour?
Absolutely! We have designed a tour that we feel strikes a great balance between cycling routes, accommodation and interesting towns. However, if, for example, you would like to do the tour
for a different number of days, stay in a different level of accommodation, or extend the route to a different location, we would be happy to discuss the options with you.
What is a single supplement?
Our prices are based on two people sharing a hotel room (in a double or twin room). For cyclists that wish to stay in their own room, the single supplement is payable.
The cost is made up of the extra cost of accommodation when the room is single occupancy and also the greater cost of the transfers (luggage and people) when it is not split between two or more cyclists. We have made every effort to keep this to a minimum wherever possible.
What are the arrival and departure points?
The arrival point for this tour is Venice. We will pick you up from the airport or train station and transfer you to the first hotel in Ovaro. We can also arrange transfers from Udine, but Venice has the much larger airport and train station, so is generally the most convenient arrival point.
Departure is from Milan-Bergamo airport, or the nearby train station. We can also transfer to the large Milan Malpensa Airport on request.
Another option is to extend the holiday by spending an extra few nights in Milan or Como.
How busy are the roads?
The vast majority of the route is on quiet roads. Some of the most famous climbs (for example, Stelvio or Sella Ronda) are slightly busier, but it is nearly all tourist traffic going at a slow pace and admiring the scenery as much as we are. So it is very rarely bothersome.
The areas around Ovaro (Zoncolan/Crostis) and Mortirolo are extremely quiet.
What type of bikes do you hire?
We recommend road bikes for this tour. The distances are quite long and there is a lot of climbing, so the lighter and faster bikes are more suitable. We provide Rose or Canyon 11 speed bikes equipped with a generous 11-32 cassette (which is very nice to have on Zoncolan and Mortirolo!)
Please see our bicycles page for further details.
When can I do this tour?
This tour is available starting on any day from the start of June to the end of September.
It is a guided tour which we run by request only (no set dates), which means that you can pick whichever starting date is best for you. This is our busiest season, however, so we recommend trying to book early!
What is the weather like on this tour?
In a word - unpredictable. Most of the tour is in high mountains and so the weather is very changeable. From June to Septmeber the weather is generally good, with sunny days common and temperatures between 20°C and 30°C.
Rain, however, is also a possiblity and so it is wise to pack clothes for all conditions.
We generally stay in comfortable *** and **** hotels for this tour, in the most convenient towns for the climbs. However, as this is a private guided tour, the accommodation level can be upgraded or downgraded as you wish.
To reserve a place on the tour, please contact us using the link below and let us know of your preferred departure date and group size. We will then be in contact as soon as possible to confirm the reservation.