I found it very enjoyable and provided everything I wanted, beautiful location, great cycling, good food and beer. The choice of distances was excellent and provided the bailout option to go a shorter route if I wanted to.
N Gillespie July 2014
Made infamous by the Giro d’Italia, the Dolomites is one of the world’s greatest places to ride a bike, every road leading to another exquisite climb, each with their own character. This road cycling holiday showcases the region perfectly, offering epic climbs, breathtaking scenery, delicious Italian food, and excellent support from 2 Marmot guides and vehicles.
We have designed the Classic Route so that, taken steadily, it is manageable and enjoyable for healthy cyclists regardless of experience in the mountains. However, this holiday also offers a fantastic challenge to those wanting to push themselves further: each day there are ‘optional extras’ increasing the possible daily ascent to between 3000 and 4200m on the Challenge Route.
It is important to us that you book the holiday that’s right for you, so do read the Trip Notes for all you need on how this holiday works; food, accommodation & travel …
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Departure Dates & Prices
Day 0: Travel Out
We offer included airport transfers (a journey of 1hr 45 mins) at scheduled times during the day from from Venice Marco Polo Airport to our start hotel on the lower slopes of the famous Passo Falzarego, just above Cortina.
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) and airport transfer timings can be found in our Trip Notes.
Check in, assemble bikes and share a hearty Italian cyclist’s meal in preparation for the adventure ahead!
Day 1: Tour of Monte Cristallo
Start the holiday with a gentle descent to the historic town of Cortina. Heading out onto the gently-sloped forested roads that encircle the towering peaks of the majestic Monte Cristallo, you summit the comparatively diminutive Passo di Cimabanche (1530m) as you go. A brief descent sees you climbing up to Lago di Misurina. In summer the lake is a great spot for sitting in a lounger, ice cream in hand, people watching.
The horizon is dominated by the iconic mountain of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, which may lure you in if you fancy taking on the steep road to the Rifugio Aronzo (2362m). An exhilarating descent brings you back down to just above the lake and onto the gentle gradients of the Eastern side of the Passo Tre Croci (1802m).
Rounding off the ride, you descend back down to Cortina d’Ampezzo before ticking off the first 5km of the Passo Falzarego, to return to your hotel.
Now you have the choice of exploring the cosmopolitan town of Cortina or, should you wish to push yourself further, there is always the option of continuing on past the hotel and up to the summit of Passo Falzarego (2105m). You’ve already done the first 5km, so why not?
Classic Route: Passo di Cimabanche + Passo Tre Croci (50km, 1050m ascent)
Challenge Route: Passo di Cimabanche + Rifugio Aronzo + Passo Tre Croci + Passo Falzarego (87km, 2310m ascent)
Day 2: The Classic duo - Passo di Giau & Passo de Campolongo
Today is all about towering peaks, lush meadows and big views. You conquer the mighty Passo di Giau (2237m) from the North, one of THE classic climbs of the area. Apart from a (very) short section of downhill half way up, it is relatively gruelling!
From the top, descend to Caprile and choose whether to deviate onto a testing, yet rewarding, loop that takes in the somewhat savage gradients of the Passo Fedaia (2057m) from the East, and then on to the somewhat kinder Passo Pordoi (2239m) with its 27, yes, 27, switchbacks!
A slightly less challenging option would be to meander uphill on the Classic route, up to and over the Passo de Campolongo (1873m) from the South. Regardless of your choice, La Villa is a great place to enjoy the atmosphere of the Dolomites and we stay here for two nights.
Classic Route: Giau + Campolongo (66km, 2000m ascent)
Challenge Route: Giau + Fedaia + Pordoi + Campolongo (92km, 3050m ascent)
Day 3: Maratona Routes from La Villa
The Maratona dles Dolomiti is one of the world’s greatest cyclosportives and happens to start in La Villa. Given the scenery, the number of legendary climbs and the quality of the roads, it is not surprising that it is so popular (it sells out in hours). Today you get to take part in the Marmot Tours version of this great event!
Have a look at the Maratona website for full details of the event, history, maps, profiles etc. However these are the routes (and stats) for you to choose from:
Selaronda Course: (55km with 1780m ascent)
Middle Course: (106km with 3130m ascent)
Passo di Campolongo (1875m) from the North, Passo Pordoi (2239m) from the East, Passo di Sella (2244m) from the South and the Passo di Gardena (2121m) from the West, back up the North side of the Passo di Campolongo (1875m) and finishing off with the South side of the Passo di Valparola (2192m).
Maratona Course: (138km with 4230m ascent)
Passo di Campolongo (1875m) from the North, Passo Pordoi (2239m) from the East, Passo di Sella (2244m) from the South and the Passo di Gardena (2121m) from the West, back up the North side of the Passo di Campolongo (1875m). From here you take on the Western face of the Passo Giau (2237m) and finish off with the Passo di Valparola (2192m) from the East!
Day 4: Transfer to Prato del Stelvio and ride to Bormio
Recover a little during the 3hr transfer today, though before you know it you will be back on the bike and counting off all 48 hairpins of the infamous Passo Dello Stelvio (2758m) from the East.
Starting steeply, it continues in the same vein, ending in the iconic switchbacks up to the pass. Celebrate your climb with a photograph, a hot dog, a tacky gift and a very rewarding descent all the way to your hotel in Valdisotto, just outside Bormio.
En-route to the hotel you have the choice of ticking off a less well-known but equally impressive and hairpin-littered local favourite of a climb, the Torri di Fraele (1941m) (Torri being Italian for towers built here in 1391).
Classic Route: Stelvio – East (54km, 1875m ascent)
Challenge Route: Stelvio – East + Torri di Fraele (79km, 2550m ascent)
Day 5: Day ride from Bormio including Gavia and Stelvio
Passo Gavia (2621m) has been stirring things up in the Giro d’Italia since 1960. With an overall elevation gain from Bormio of over 1400m, you are sure to be rewarded with epic views over the glaciers of the Stelvio National Park as you twist and turn your way up this narrow mountain road – you’d be forgiven for thinking time had stood still.
Descending back down to Bormio, should you feel as though your appetite for altitude is yet to be satisfied, there is the option of ticking the Passo Dello Stelvio (2758m) box once and for all by taking on this infamous climb once more, this time from the South side. Having descended this road the previous day, you’ll be well aware of the challenge ahead, but rest assured you’ll be rewarded with an entirely different perspective as your journey to the top is likely to be a touch more leisurely (!) than yesterday’s descent!
Classic Route: Gavia (62km, 1500m ascent)
Challenge Route: Gavia + Stelvio – South (104km, 3050m ascent)
Day 6: Livigno & Mortirolo finale!
The western approach to the Passo di Mortirolo (1851m) was described by Lance Armstrong as the ‘hardest climb he had ever ridden’: a fitting end to our week in this amazing part of the world. As always there are options:
With the Passo Foscagno (2288m) and Passo Eira (2208m) under your belt, you take a brief excursion into Switzerland and enjoy a near 30km descent down the Poschiavo Valley before crossing back into Italy again, emerging at the base of the infamous Passo del Mortirolo (1852m). The Classic route continues on up the valley and past the base of the Mortirolo along to your final destination of Grossio.
For those with something left in the legs, it is just rude to not cycle up the Mortirolo – an assault on altitude! With an average gradient of 10.5% over its 12km length and a maximum kick of 18%, the Mortirolo is a fitting finale to the week!
Whatever you do, tonight a celebration is in order!
Classic Route: Foscagno + Eira (106km, 2200m ascent)
Challenge Route: Foscagno + Eira + Mortirolo (129km, 3500m ascent)
Shorter Route: Mortirolo (53km, 1350m ascent)
Day 7: Transfer Back
We offer included transfers (3.5hrs) from Grossio to Milan Malpensa Airport only. As there are several ‘Milanese’ Airports, please ensure you are booking flights from MALPENSA (MXP).
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.