Cent Cols Challenge Corsica

When creating this route, Phil Deeker sought to include the uncompromising and mostly unheralded the island has to offer. Averaging 200km and 3700m of climbing per day, the Rapha Cent Cols Challenge Corsica passes through remote villages on rarely ridden roads. Be prepared for unpaved roads, isolated locales, and stunning scenery.

Starting at the northern tip of the island, the route heads south to the mountainous central region. By Stage Four the riders will have traversed the island to the southernmost point of the trip, Olmetto. From here the riders will strike north again, riding the western coast in six stages, taking in inland climbs and finishing most days with swooping descents to the coast.

Hotel changes are kept to every two days, reducing off-the-bike stress for the riders and allowing them a chance to take in the local culture. The rest day will be held in a fabulous Porticcio resort.

Dates:
Monday 26th May to Friday 6th June 2014

Features:

  • Unspoilt and unheralded climbs
  • Fewer hotel transfers and reduced off-bike stress
  • Remote locales, exceptional views
  • Rest day in Porticcio resort
  • Traverses the island in its entirety

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Stage One : Bastia to Corte

Stats: 220kms, 4200m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de Terghine, San Stefano, Bigorno, San Gavino, Casardo, San Cervone
Description: Following a brief but grand view of the western coast from the Col de Terghine, the route takes us due south across wooded hills, remote villages and over eight main climbs. We almost come back to sea-level after a 26km downhill section, near San Guiliano, before an even longer climb due west up to the Col de Casardo. From here it is a bumpy ride further inland to the busy town of Corte.

Stage Two : Corte to Corte

Stats: 190kms, 4300m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de Vergio, Sevi, Vizzavona, Serra, Bellagranajo
Description: A stage of contrasts, this one. The opening climb, the Col de Vergio, requires upward cycling for almost 50kms and is rightly considered the most beautiful and challenging on the island. Narrow roads with jaw-dropping views keep the mind busy. An equally entrancing road awaits on the downward side towards Porto. Then another of Corsica’s wildly remote roads tackles rocky hillsides taking us south-east, eventually finding the N83. Here begins a cruel piece of tarmac that takes an uncompromising route to the top of the Vizzavona. A wide road at times, this has none of the intimacy of the majority of our roads, but nonetheless is very generous to the determined riders who get to the top. From here it is all downhill to the hotel, naturally…

Stage Three : Corte to Olmetto

Stats: 201km , 3,700m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de San Quilico, Erbajo, Morello, Sorba, Verde, Vaccia, Ste Eustache
Description: After the exceptionally beautiful climb to the Col de Sorba, the greater part of this stage follows the green spine of Corsica : a fabulous mixed forest through which the D69 struggles to find its way. Some of the tarmac is brand new; some isn’t…. but it has to be one of the best roads on the island. Eventually we have to leave it though, heading west for our final climb of the stage. Another narrow adventure up to the Col Ste. Eustache before a final 30km drop to our hotel, except for a little four-kilometre up-ish bit.

Stage Four : Olmetto to Olmetto

Stats: 202km, 3,900m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de Siu, Bacinu, Bocca di Piavone, Suara
Description: This stage takes us down to the southern tip of the island, via the impressive Col de Bacinu. Chestnut woods dominate the landscape here, with many trees looking as old as the island itself. Although this stage has a flatter central section, in the final 70km, two climbs make up for a big chunk of the overall day’s climbing.

Stage Five : Olmetto to Porticcio

Stats: 177km, 3,400m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de Bavella, Vaccia,Granaccia, Bellevalle
Description: From one port to another, our route goes inland first, heading towards the curious rock formation of the “Aiguilles de Bavella”, which can be admired from the Col of the same name. Back down through the charming village of Zonza, we then head north-east along more twisting roads, taking on the Col de Vaccia from its southern side this time, before rolling along a bumpy section that includes several Cols, but never any major climbs. A very pleasant 28km of “overall downhill” finishes the stage.

Rest Day

Stats: At our hotel in Porticcio (the second of three nights in this fabulous resort).
Description: A day on a big white beach…?

Stage Six : Porticcio to Porticcio

Stats: 197km, 3,800m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de Cortone, Chenova, Crichetto, Scalella
Description: A southern swoop along the coast opens the stage before some sharp climbing inland towards the Col de Cortone which dominates the forest of Chiavari. The profile from here until the 1200m Col de Scalella is particularly jagged. More narrow roads (few back lanes are left unexplored by the end of our trip) eventually take us to the 20 km section to the top of the Scalella. Another long descent down to sea level closes the stage perfectly.

Stage Seven : Porticcio to Porto

Stats: 190km, 3,900m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de San bastiano, Bocca di sarcoggio, Ambiegna, Sevi
Description: This bumpy ride takes us first of all along the west coast along a gently rising (and falling) road before veering off again onto the ‘lost’ roads of the island. Harsher climbs are to be found along the way but the stage really comes alive in the last 60kms. This contains a section of truly spectacularly wild and apparently forgotten tarmac , followed by the severe climb up to the Col de Sevi –with its’ 12% final kms. The 22km descent down into Porto is one of the best pieces of road you could ever wish to cycle on…

Stage Eight : Porto to Porto

Stats: 170km, 3,500m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de Osini, Lava, St Antoine, Sevi, Vergio
Description: The shortest stage of the event but perhaps the most beautiful: it contains a climb hard to beat for its rock show. Les Calanche were not missed by the Tour helicopter cameras in 2013. They should be missed by no-one visiting Corsica. This road actually takes us to our first Col of the day too. We cling for a while to the coast at Cargese, before turning to more serious things inland. We repeat (unavoidably) the Sevi rise and then take on the Col de Vergio from its western side, turning back at the summit. Initially we take a different route back to Porto but then lack of alternatives means that we finish with a second go on the #1 downhill rollercoaster on this Island of Beauty!

Stage Nine : Porto to Ile Rousse

Stats: 202km, 3,200m climbing
Main climbs: Cols de la Croix, Bocca di Marsolinu, Salvi, Bocca a Croce, Casella
Description: The first of the two-stage tour of the north of the Island. Following the route of the 2013 Tour, our road affords more rocky views of the west coast until we turn inland for the long slog up to the Bocca di Marsolinu. More back-roads take us to the Col de Salvi, after which we begin the steepest climb of the stage to the Bocca a Croce. The run-in to Ile Rousse is almost as fun as the previous day’s end.

Stage Ten : Ile Rousse to Bastia

Stats: 190 kms 2,800m climbing (short-cut option for earlier finish)
Main climbs: Cols de San Colombano, Bocca di Vezzu, Ste Lucie, Serra
Description: This stage is truly the Tour de Cap Corse. Our main climb of the stage is dealt with early on occupying kms 5 to 20. A relentless one, but this is the beginning of the end. From here on our road hugs the coast, creating a bit of bumpy profile, but any shark who had these teeth would not be doing too much damage. Views are superb the whole way round but of course it could just be a bit windy… A dramatic way to end the Island Experience.

Full price of trip: £2650

More info: centcolschallenge.com »

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