Nestled in the north-eastern region of Italy lie the majestic, jagged peaks of the Dolomites. These ‘Monte Pallidi’ or Pale Mountains consist of magnesium-rich limestone rock which glows a shade of pink or even orange in the light of a sunrise or sunset and are truly a sight to behold. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is also home to some fantastic cycling with the Giro d’Italia having taken more than 40 trips there since it first graced the region in 1937. Never boring, there’s barely a flat road in sight between the saw-like rocks which ensures that you can get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of elevation per km. In this post we’ll give you the lowdown on where to stay when on a cycling tour in the Dolomites, the climbs to tackle and the best time of the year to go
Where to Stay In The Dolomites
There are an array of cycling and sports-friendly hotels in this region owing to the fact that the ski resorts are keen to attract business of cyclists outside of ski season.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is part of the Dolomiti Superski area but in the summer months becomes a playground for cyclists, it is home to the Passo Tre Croci, Passo Giau and Passo Falzarego climbs.
The beauty of Corvara and the surrounding area was discovered in the 18th century by mountaineers who would accompany the first hikers up to the peaks of the Dolomites. These visitors were mostly geologists and natural scientists from Great Britain who were interested in the unique landscape of the Dolomites. Nowadays the cosy yet cosmopolitan village of Corvara is the undisputed Alpine tourist centre of Alta Badia.
La Perla Corvara
La Perla Corvara sits beneath the stunning Sella Massif and even boasts an exhibition area dedicated to Pinarello bikes.
Whilst not technically in the Dolomites, Bormio is just a stone’s throw away and right on the doorstep of the legendary climbs of the Passo dello Stelvio, Passo Gavia, and the Mortirolo, so if you’re travelling to the Dolomites it’s well worth adding this area on.
Where to Cycle in the Dolomites
The Dolomites are like a cyclists playground with no shortage of epic climbs to entertain you with some of the most popular (and challenging) below!
- Sella Ronda Loop: 52km, 1,683m – perhaps the most famous ride in the Dolomites, the Sella Ronda Loop
- Passo Campolongo: 5.8km at an average of 6% the Campolongo has some really unique and uncommon characteristics that set it apart.
- Passo Pordoi: 9.2km at an average of 6.9% and never more than 7%. It also has a section of 22 hairpins in just 4.5km! Fausto Coppi memorial.
- Passo Sella: 5.5km at 8% Passo Sella offers fabulous scenery including the Sella Massif walls and the magnificent Sassolungo Group
- Passo Gardena: 9.5km at 5.3% average save your legs for this last climb of the day!
- Passo Giau: Frequently featured in the Giro and also used as the penultimate climb in the famous Maratona del Dolomites sportive the Giau is a real challenge of a climb at 9.8km at an average of 9.4%.
- Passo Tre Croci: 8.1km at 7.1%
- Falzarego & Valparola: 12.2km at 6.3% with 17 hairpins!
Climbs in The Bormio Area
If you can travel to the Bormio area these climbs are well worth checking out!
- Gavia: 17.3km at 7.9% rising to 2,621m of altitude.
- Mortirolo: 12.1km at 10%
- Stelvio: The Stelvio is one of the most iconic climbs of the Giro d’Italia and usually plays a pivotal role in the race. There are 20 hairpins on the climb from Bormio and 48 on the other side with steep ramps in between them!
- From Bormio: 21km at 7%
- From Prato: 24km at 8%
- Umbrail Pass: 18.3km at 7.1%
Best time to Cycle in the Dolomites?
The best time of year to visit the Dolomites is between May – October
Dolomites Cycling Tours – Packing A Punch
The rich history and epic parcours that the Dolomites have to offer make it a perfect choice for those looking for a European cycling tour that packs a punch. As cyclists we seek out the suffering and the Dolomites bring it in spades – with high gradients and long ascents you are spoiled for choice. In addition to the fantastic riding, being in Italy means you are situated in the land of cycling-friendly cuisine as carb-laden Italian staples such as pizza and pasta are perfect pre-ride choice to make sure you never have to worry about bonking!
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