The Dolomites: Zoncolan to Mortirolo
Guided / Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
After arriving in Venice, the cycling begins by tackling the mighty Zoncolan, before heading west over great climbs such as Passo Giau, Passo Pordoi, Passo 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.
Below you can find a detailed itinerary for the guided tour. Click on the tabs to see more highlights, as well as all the practical information about the holiday. We are currently only running this tour for groups of six or more people on request, and can run it guided or self-guided. However, we may add new dates for guided tours in the future.
Day 1 - Venice
Depending on your arrival time, there is the option to either take a look around Venice before your transfer, or to go for a short circular ride in the afternoon.
The Carnic Alps
Day 2 - Monte Zoncolan & Monte Crostis
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.
Short Route: 49km (1,700m Elevation)
Long Route: 74km (2,800m)
Reaching the top of Zoncolan
Day 3 - Sella di Razzo & Tre Cime di Lavaredo
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 di Lavaredo 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-Mortirolo 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.
Short Route: 89km (2,250m)
Long Route: 108km (2,850m)
View over Cortina d'Ampezzo
Day 4 - 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.
Short Route: 49km (1,500m)
Long Route: 69km (2,400m)
The distinctive rock of Passo di Giau
Day 5 - Sella Ronda
These iconic climbs have all featured many times in the Giro d'Italia and, although they are not 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.
Short Route: 53km (2,100m)
Long Route: Various Extension options
The Sella Ronda
Day 6 - Passo Fedaia & Passo Nigra
After a fun descent and short valley section, we begin the second climb to Passo Costalunga. From here there is a false flat to the Passo Nigra which 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.
The Route: 72km (1,500m)
Long Route: 104km (2,450m)
Day 7 – Adige Valley & Passo dello Stelvio
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.
Short Route: 124km (2,460m)
Long Route: 139km (3,100m)
Passo dello Stelvio
Day 8 – Passo di Mortirolo & Passo di Gavia
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 Passo di Mortirolo (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.
Short Route: 51km (1,450m)
Long Route: 107km (2,920m)
The stunning Gavia Pass
Day 9 – Departure / Milan
For those of you who do not extend the trip, we will transfer you to Milan airport in time for your onward journey.
To find out more about this holiday; including practical information, prices, dates and more tour highlights; return to the top of the page and click on the various tabs.
There is also fun to be had off the bike on this tour!
Check out our photo album below to see just some of the highlights:
- ✔ 8 Nights Accommodation (see the Hotels section for more details)
- ✔ 8 Breakfasts in the hotels
- ✔ Evening meal on arrival day in Ovaro
- ✔ Transfers to and from the arrival / departure point
- ✔ Luggage transferred between hotels
- ✔ Full GPS routes with extensions if you wish to cycle further on any day (as well as a few short cuts!)
- ✔ Detailed information pack
- ✔ Vehicle Support on the routes
- ✔ Guide cycling the routes
- ❌ Carbon Road Bike Hire (Optional Extra: €120 EUR)
- ❌ Flights
- ❌ Lunches & Evening Meals (except first night)
- ❌ Travel Insurance
Our bikes are lightweight 11 speed carbon road bikes - mostly brands Canyon and Rose. They are all fitted with a 34 tooth compact chainring and a 32 tooth large sprocket on the cassette, so hopefully you will be able to spin your way over the climbs!
All of our bikes come with helmets and handlebar bags if required, as well as a Cycle Fiesta water bottle. More details can be found on our bicycles page.
Difficulty Level & Roads
The longer routes are hard! They tackle two or even three climbs and usually have close to 3000m of elevation. If you plan to ride these routes then its important to have done some training in the weeks leading up to the tour.
On the guided tours we strongly encourage everyone to go at their own pace and to make sure you enjoy the routes. When we have riders of different levels we split up and regroup throughout the day so that nobody feels pressured to push themselves too hard.
Find out more about our tour difficulty levels.
Arrival and Departure
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.
Please contact us if you would like any advice or more information regarding getting to and from Venice / Milan.
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 do I book this tour
Currently we run this tour only for private groups of at least six people. Please contact us to discuss dates and any changes you would like to make to the itinerary.
This itinerary is for the guided version of the tour, but we can also run it as a self-guided for groups (with or without vehicle support).
The price indicated on this itinerary is for the guided and fully supported tour for 6-8 people. The price is slightly less for larger groups, or for tours without vehicle support. Again, please to discuss all the options.
When can I do this tour?
We may be able to run this tour from late May to the end of September. All the climbs are usually open throughout this period, and there is usually little rain during the summer.
If you have the choice, we generally recommend against doing this tour in August. This is the main season and the region gets a lot busier than in the rest of summer. There can be quite a lot of traffic on some of the main passes.
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.
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.
Can I bring my own bike?
Of course! This is a good option if you have a very specific fit. We can carry soft and foldable bike boxes on the trip in the support van. If you prefer to use a hard case, you will have to ship this from the start to the end.
Can I extend the tour?
Yes, we would be happy to arrange any tour extensions for you. One popular option is to spend extra nights in
Venice or Milan at the start and end of the trip.
But we can also arrange for you stay longer in the Alps themselves. Bormio is pretty much at the tri-point of Italy, Switzerland and Austria, so there are plenty of great options.
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 climbs can I do?
This tour tackles all of the most famous cycling climbs from Zoncolan in the east, to the Mortirolo in the west, including the following:
Sella di Razzo
Tre Cime di Lavaredo (E)
Passo Fedaia (E)
Passo dell'Erbe (E)
Passo dello Stelvio
Passo di Gavia
Passo di Mortirolo (E)
(E) = Optional route extension
Who is leading the tour?
All of our guided tours are led personally by the founders of Cycle Fiesta - Ian & Lucia.
See our about us page for more information.
What is your cancellation policy?
The full cancellation policy can be found in our terms and conditions.
Hotel Baita Clementi
They are based on the above guided and supported itinerary, starting in any month except August. For tours begininning in August an extra supplement is payable.
²DatesWe run this tour on request for groups of more than six people. Please contact us to arrange a guided tour starting on any date.
For groups of ten or more riders the price is lower.