26 May to 5 June 2019
“Setting aside the Blockhaus climb, this ride includes few Grand Tour legends. Neither does it include many climbs higher than 1600m. Nor does it have many kilometres of that perfect, smooth, dark Italian tarmac. What it does have, though, is perhaps the greatest sense of ‘journey’ of any CCC. The landscape is so varied. The roads take us to some very, very remote places ; gravel climbs feature several times and the rough tarmac typical of the poor Marche and Abruzzi regions we ride through can often be a challenge in itself. The Gran Sasso opens it’s roads to us on two stages and for these days alone this trip will prove to be unforgettable. Apart from one stage in the reassuring ‘civilised’ beauty of Tuscany, the rest of this event scares and excites me equally, as an organiser and a rider, such is the unusual, and unpredictable nature of this part of Italy. Truly a voayage of discovery : the perfect way to illustrate what a Cent Cols Challenge is all about.”
Stage One Lucca - Castiglione dei Pepoli
Stats: 207 KM / 5300 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Passo Lucese, Monte Baldorie, Passo San Pellegrino, Passo Zanchetto
Description: Opening the parcours on the forgotten roads north of Lucca, today takes in the northernmost part of Tuscany. The infamous Passo San Pellegrino — with several 18% ramps — is the days hardest challenge, and brings us in to Emilia-Romagna for the latter part of the ride.
Stage Two Castiglione - Pieve Santa Stefano
Stats: 207 KM / 4460 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Passo Tavianella, Passo Tre Faggi, Passo Fangacci, Monte Calla, Passo Pratelle
Description: After a relatively gentle start, with a rare 25km flat section, we climb into the glorious, remote Casentinesi Forest National Park. A combination of ancient forests and gravel climbs characterise this untouched part of central Italy.
Stage Three Pieve Santa Stefano – Cagli
Stats: 175 KM / 4500 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Passo Braccina, Passo Viamaggio, Monte Carpegna, Monte Nerone, Monte Petrano
Description: Arriving in the Marche region, we start with the charismatic Monte Carpegna,where ‘Il Pirata’, loved to train. Monte Nerone leads to a beautiful plateau populated by wild horses, before scaling the gravel of Monte Petrano earns us a perfectly tarmaced final descent.
Stage Four Cagli - Sarnano
Stats: 187 KM / 4300 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Monte Catria, Passo Croce, Passo Fiastra, Passo Maria Maddalena
Description: Another wild stage in the Marche region, with a mix of densely wooded valleys, rocky gorges, and rolling roads with only occasional signs of human activity. After a day characterised by shorter climbs, the stage ends with an epic 16km climb over the Passo Maria Maddalena.
Stage Five Sarnano - Popoli
Stats: 230 KM / 4600 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Passo San Marco, Vado di Sole
Description: The longest stage of the challenge, we enter Abbruzo, a region still scarred by recent earthquakes. The 28km climb up to the beauty and grandeur of Gran Sasso National Park, which includes the highest mountain in the Apennines, is the longest of the trip.
Stage Six Popoli - Castel di Sangro
Stats: 201 KM / 5100 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Blockhaus, Colle Macine, Passo del Forchetta, Colle Pescocostanzo
Description: The mighty Blockhaus climb dominates this stage. Tackled by its toughest side, it also affords the best views of the Abbruzzu hills to one side and the Adriatic Sea on the other. To balance the climbing early in the day, the Pescocostanzo loop offers a contrast with gentle, wild valleys and shaded woodlands.
Stats: Castel di Sangro
Description: Spa hotel just perfect for rest and repair !
Stage Seven Castel - L'Aquila
Stats: 211 KM / 3800 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Colle Godi, Cocullo, Frascara, Passo Barisciano, Monte Cristo
Description: Having touched the southernmost point of the route in Castel di Sangro, we ride north through gorges, around lakes and passing through small towns, today’s route ends by climbing back in to the Gran Sasso National Park, heading over the barren plateau of the Monte Cristo.
Stage Eight Aquila - Todi
Stats: 195 KM / 3700 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Monte Terminillo, Passo Polino, Passo Macerino, Cittadella Todi
Description: Leaving the rugged terrain of Ambruzzi behind, today’s route winds through Lazio and Umbria. Quiet roads, woodlands and smooth tarmac characterise the riding. The latter part of the day takes in a 4km section of the renown Strade Bianchi before ending in the medieval hilltop town of Todi.
Stage Nine Todi - Siena
Stats: 226 KM / 4300 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Passo Monaldesca, Passo Radicofani, Monte Amiata, Passo Lume Spento
Description: This long stage brings us to the cypress-lined gravel roads of Tuscany. Whilst the surface may be uneven, the climbs are long, shaded and steady.
Stage Ten Siena - Lucca
Stats: 193 KM / 3300 M
Main climbs: Major Climbs: Monteluco, Petroso, Montaione, Prato Cerogiola, Colle di Calci
Description: The formidable Monteluco climb is too good to miss, even though it adds distance to our final stage. A couple of gravel sections are mixed in with rolling valley roads before we end with a 12km climb to an incredible view over Tuscany, a fitting finish for our journey through this unforgettable part of Italy.