The Dolomites

29 August - 8 September 2016

The CCC Dolomites was ridden for the first time in 2012 when it stood as the hardest of the CCC events. Even though Cantabrico, Norhern Alps and the revised Pyrenees all now match it in terms of hardship, this journey is still possibly the Ultimate Road Cycling Experience in the mountains, thanks to the unique, harsh rock-scape and the dramatic, sinuous roads.

With just under 2,000kms and close to 50,000M of climbing, it is very intense. From its’ start (and finish) in San Pellegrino Terme ( access via Milan airports) it stretches east to the infamous Monte Zoncolan. 10-15% stretches are common to most climbs, as are superb series of perfect hairpins. Complemented by frequent albergo’s or refugio’s at the top of climbs, the roads skywards seem almost designed specifically for cyclists.

This route is inspired by the Randonnées Permanentes of the Club des Cent Cols, This Club has done formidable work all over the world, and has been a very helpful partner to the Cent Cols Challenges from the outset.

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Stage 1: San Pellegrino Terme to Pieve di Ledro

Stats: 202km ; 4,700M. 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 Primiero

Stats: 225km ; 5,200M. 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 Primiero 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: 195km ; 6,200M. 10 Cols

Main climbs: Sella Monte Zoncolan, Forcella di Luis, di Razzo, San Antonio, Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

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. We then head back west via the long climb to the Forcella di Razzo before hitting the Passo san Antonio with its 6km of 10% over 16 hairpins. Together with the Beast early on, this stage is book-ended by a second climb that re-defines steep but this time in a setting that is pure magic : the Tre Cime will not dissappoint!

Stage 5 : Cortina to Pozza di Fassa

Stats: 175km ; 4,900M. 11 Cols

Main climbs: Passo Giau, di Valparola, Gardena, di Sella, Pordoi, di Campolungo, Fedaia.

Description: The stage that 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 : Pozza di Fassa to Levico Terme

Stats: 205km ; 5,100M. 12 Cols

Main climbs: Passo di San Pellegrino, di Valles, di Primadiccio, di Lavazé, Manghen.

Description: Fresh from our rest day we climb the San 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: 174km ; 4,700M. 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: 215km ; 5,800M. 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, Passo Gavia, Mortirolo.

Description: Revised stage for 2013 : a couple of superb classics to start with then the Giant of the event : the Gavia. This will be a big moment for all riders, as long as the weather allows us over. if not then Plan B isn't bad either (Mortirolo, Trignio & Aprica). After the Gavia, we still have time to fit in the eastern ascent of the Mortirolo.

Stage 10 : Tirano to San Pellegrino Terme

Stats: 182m ; 4,500M. 5 Cols

Main climbs: Mortirolo, Vivione, di Ganda.

Description: Back up the Mortirolo is always a good way to open the last day. This climb is tough and steep all the way up, but by now legs are used to this type of road. 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.