With almost 2,000km and close to 50,000m ascent, this route stands to be the most challenging of the Rapha Cent Cols Challenges 2014. These roads feel designed by cyclists – punishing climbs reward the riders with superb hairpin descents.
The route heads northeast from San Pellegrino Terme to the Parco Nazionale Dolomiti, famed for its short and steep passages and its markedly rocky skyline. From here, the ride goes to the heart of the Dolomites: the Duran, Mauria and Sella Chiampon. Sections of Strada Bianca litter the route, testing handling skills as well as climbing legs. Stage Four starts off with the inimitable Sella Monte Zoncolan and is bookended by the exceptionally steep Tre Cime.
The route then heads east along the wooded valleys of the Dolomites, offering exceptionally views across the border to the Swiss Alps. The final stages flow south, capped by the historic Gavia.
Sunday 31st August to Wednesday 10th September 2014
- Sella Monte Zoncolan, Sella Chiampon, Gavia
- The most demanding Rapha Cent Cols Challenge.
- Stretches of 10-15% common
- Exceptional hairpin descents
- Passages of Strada Bianca
Stage 1: San Pellegrino Terme to Pieve di Ledro
Stats: 177km ; 3,500M. 11 Cols
Main climbs: Passo di Zambla, San Zeno, di Maniva, Ampola.
Description: A 26km climb after just 4km of the stage opens the show and sends us on our way to Lovere on the beautiful Lago Iseo for our first feedstop. A 17 km climb follows that, but the real feature of the day is the Passo Maniva, by some dramatic Strada Bianci at the top across some extraordinary wild, barren scenery. A long descent then to Bagolino sees a return to a more reassuring landscape as we make our way to our lakeside hotel on the Lago di Ledro. A stunning opening stage.
Stage 2: Pieve di Ledro to Fiera di Primero
Stats: 225km ; 4,800M. 9 Cols
Main climbs: Passo di San Uldanco, di Bondone, Compet (Vignola), di Forcella, del Brocon, della Gobbera.
Description: Arriving at Riva del Garda via the old corniche ‘road’, we are treated to superb views of the Lago Garda before we head north-east for our climbs. The Monte Bondone is our first big climb (16km) with some steep passages. The star of the day comes in the afternoon when we climb up towards Vignola : our first (of many to come) narrow road that hairpins its way through dense woodland. A real treat.
Stage 3 : Fiera di Primero to Tolmezzo
Stats: 202km ; 5,070M. 12 Cols
Main climbs: Passo Cerada, Duran, Forcella Cibiana, Mauria, di Pura, Sella Chiampon.
Description: Coming right at the start of the Stage, Passo Cerada , with its average 9% over 8km is literally our wake up call : we have arrived in the heart of the Dolomites. The famous rock skylines set the tone for some dramatic rides to follow. The Forcella Cibiana is another classic : a particularly charming climb through the woods . After the gentler Passso Mauria, the stage ends with two tough and very steep climbs. Both have some very dramatic moments and the first is followed by a superb descent through a gorge and (lit) tunnels. The second brings us to within striking distance of Villa Santina, with views over towards the next mornings’ giant.
Stage 4 : Tolmezzo to Cortina d’Ampezzo
Stats: 225km ; 5,800M. 10 Cols
Main climbs: Sella Monte Zoncolan, Forcella di Luis, di Razzo, San Antonio, Monte Croce Comelico.
Description: The Beast of the Challenge comes 20 km after breakfast and is obviously the main feature of this epic stage. All other notions of steep will become relative after this one. After a beautiful wooded loop to the Forcella Lavardet , which marks our most eastern point of the route, we head north-west notably via the formidable Passo san Antonio with its 6km of 10% over 16 hairpins. Having almost touched the Austrian border, we turn south again and conclude the stage once again at a stunning lakeside hotel. More superb views all along the way make this another stagethat offers The Best.
Stage 5 : Cortina to Canazei
Stats: 160km ; 4,800M. 11 Cols
Main climbs: Passo Giau, di Valparola, Gardena, di Sella, Pordoi, di Campolungo, Fedaia.
Description: The stagethat takes in the famous Sella Ronde and climbs into the core of the Dolomites. The Passo Giau , considered one of the most beautiful passes in Italy, is our opener but what follows will not disappoint even so. The Gardena and Sella passes can be enjoyed as examples of mountain perfection whereas the Fedaia (Marmolada) , which ends the glorious suffering, is as brutal as they come. This stage is an absolute Classic and a perfect way to end the first part of this Challenge.
Stage 6 : Canazei to Levico Terme
Stats: 205km ; 5,110M. 12 Cols
Main climbs: Passo di San Pellegrino, di Valles, di Primadiccio, di Lavazé, Manghen.
Description: After a rest day in Canazei, in a hotel with full spa facilities (steam room, sauna, indoor pool, etc),we climb the Pellegrino on its easy side, but then the Valles makes up for this ‘soft’ climb by throwing five km of 9-11% at you. True Dolomite Grit. From this climb though we begin to pull away from the mineral heart of the Dolomites as we head along ridges that offer superb views across wooded valleys towards the Swiss Alps. Towards the end of this stage the Passo Manghen steals the show with a climb to match any other in the whole route.
Stage 7 : Levico Terme to Castelvecchio
Stats: 194km ; 5,200M. 15 Cols
Main climbs: Passo Cost, Vezzana, Coe, della Borcola, pion della Fugazze, del Zovo.
Description: This stage begins with another of the steeper climbs of the route : 8km of 10-12% on an extraordinary rode carved into the mountainside. It takes us up to the Passo Vezzana in a truly dramatic fashion. This is one of the most remote stages, with several wooded climbs on narrow, deserted roads and more endless views across wooded expanses. It also has the only uphill finish : a steep climb up to the tiny village of Castelvecchio. This was baptised ‘Little Zoncolan” by the CCC 2012 riders: be warned.
Stage 8 : Castelvecchio to Ponte Arche
Stats: 208km ; 5,600M. 14 Cols
Main climbs: Passo di Santa Caterina, del Branchetto, di Colla, Fittanze, Santa Barbara
Description: From the Veronese hills to the National Lessini Park, this stage takes us from woodland to barren open windswept highland scenery and on back into the mountains at the end. It contains two of the longest climbs (24 and 26 kms) as well as the two steepest and most dramatic descents of the whole event. The Passo Santa Barbara is a very memorable way to finish the hardest climbing of this stage…
Stage 9 : Ponte Arche to Tirano
Stats: 194km ; 5,100M. 5 Cols
Main climbs: Madonna de Campiglio, del Tonale, Mortirolo, Trivigno, Aprica
Description: Revised stage for 2013 : a couple of superb classics to start with then up the easy side of the Mortirolo and down the way we tackle it on stage 10. Which leaves the steep, little-known climb up to Trivignno before finishing the stage with the flying descent off the Passo Aprica. If the weather permits, this stage will be revised to include the Passo Gavia.
Stage 10 : Tirano to San Pellegrino Terme
Stats: 191m ; 4,500M. 5 Cols
Main climbs: Mortirolo, Vivione, di Ganda.
Description: A more vicious climb to start the final stage there could not be: the Mortirolo. Almost on a par with the Zoncolan, this climb is tough and steep all the way up. Another long descent takes us to one of the most beautiful climbs of the event : the Passo Vivione. An absolute jewel of the Challenge, to be savoured. After the third long descent (another 30km stretch) we join the route of the 2011 Giro until the end of our stage for one final climb before plunging back down into our start town for the finish.
Full price of trip: £2550
- More info: centcolschallenge.com »