Stage 1: San Pellegrino Terme – Pieve di Ledro
Stats: 177km and 3,500m of climbing (11 cols)
A stunning opening stage, with a 26km climb after just 4km to open the show. The real feature of the day is the Passo Maniva, then a long descent to our lakeside hotel on the Lago di Ledro.
Stage 2: Pieve di Ledro – Fiera di Primero
Stats: 225km and 4,800m of climbing (9 cols)
Arriving at Lake Garda via the old corniche ‘road’, we are treated to superb views before we head north-east for our climbs. The star of the day is the climb towards Vignola, our first of many narrow roads that hairpins through dense woodland. A real treat.
Stage 3 : Fiera di Primero – Tolmezzo
Stats: 202km and 5,070m of climbing (12 cols)
Passo Cerada is literally our wake up call today, signalling we have arrived in the heart of the Dolomites. The famous rock skylines set the tone for some dramatic rides to follow. The stage ends with two fearsomely tough, steep climbs.
Stage 4 : Tolmezzo – Cortina d’Ampezzo
Stats: 225km and 5,800m of climbing (10 cols)
Monte Zoncolan, the ‘beast’ of the challenge comes 20km after breakfast and is the main feature of this epic stage. All other notions of steep will become relative after this one. The route continues almost to the Austrian border, then turns south to finish at a stunning lakeside hotel.
Stage 5: Cortina – Canazei
Stats: 160km and 4,800m of climbing (11 cols)
The Passo Giau, considered one of the most beautiful passes in Italy, is our opener but what follows will not disappoint. The Gardena and Sella passes can be enjoyed as examples of mountain perfection, and the Fedaia (Marmolada) is as brutal as they come.
Stage 6: Canazei – Levico Terme
Stats: 205km and 5,110m of climbing (12 cols)
After a rest day in Canazei, in a hotel with full spa facilities, we begin to travel away from the mineral heart of the Dolomites. 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 – Castelvecchio
Stats: 194km and 5,200m of climbing (15 cols)
This is one of the most remote stages, with steep roads carved into the mountainside and wooded climbs on narrow, deserted roads. It also has the only uphill finish: a steep climb to the tiny village of Castelvecchio. Be warned, this was baptised ‘Little Zoncolan” by the CCC 2012 riders.
Stage 8: Castelvecchio – Ponte Arche
Stats: 208km and 5,600m of climbing (14 cols)
From the Veronese hills to the Lessini National Park, this stage takes us from woodland to barren, windswept highlands and back into the mountains. It contains two of the longest climbs (24km and 26km) as well as the two most dramatic descents of the whole event.
Stage 9: Ponte Arche – Tirano
Stats: 194km and 5,100m of climbing (5 cols)
Again, some superb classic climbs – the Aprica, Tonale and the easy side of the Mortirolo (the hard side is to come). If the weather permits, this stage will be revised to include the Passo Gavia.
Stage 10: Tirano – San Pellegrino Terme
Stats: 191km and 4,500m of climbing (5 cols)
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, and it is mainly downhill to loop back to our start town for the finish.
We recommend that you visit Phil Deeker’s Cent Cols Challenge website which explains in greater detail what is involved in these trips.