The thought of 9 days was a bit intimidating before I went out, but in fact proved to be the most rewarding of the Raids and felt like a real 'journey' across Europe.
If you have experience cycling in the mountains and maybe a Raid or two under your belt, then the natural progression of things should lead you to the pinnacle of your Raid career: the Raid Dolomites, also known as the Randonée Alpine Léman-Adriatique.
Starting in Thonon-les-Bains, France, you face an epic journey over the Alps through Italy and Switzerland, taking in some awe-inspiring cols. The Simplon, San Bernardino (over 31km of climbing but at a lovely average of 5.4%) and Splügen are the first ones topping 2000m. The Stelvio features later (do all these big cols begin with ‘S’?), which at 2758m is infamous as the highest paved mountain pass in Europe, frequently featuring in the Giro d’Italia. The descent around 48 hairpins on the eastern side is something truly memorable. Col after col tops the 2000m mark: Sella, Pordoi, Valparola, Giau and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (3 peaks of Lavaredo), from the summit of which you have a magnificent panoramic view of the Dolomites.
We have been supporting cyclists in achieving their goals for more than 15 years. We are passionate about our product being the best it can be and the expertise and experience of our team really shows. We provide two highly customised support vans per group, our guides are attentive and energetic and we know that this is not just a cycling challenge – it is also a holiday, so we keep it fun.
To find out more about the history and format of a Raid, please check out our blog here.
It is important to us that you book a holiday that’s right for you, so do read the Trip Notes for all you need to know about how this holiday works, food, accommodation & travel…
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
To get a flavour of this trip, head over to our You Tube channel to watch our Cycling the Italian Dolomites video.
Departure Dates & Prices
We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts on the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):
- Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% Early Bookers discount
- Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
- Get a group of 10+ people together for a 10% Group discount
Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.
Day 0: Travel Out
We offer included transfers at specific times from Geneva Airport to Thonon-les-Bains (1hr).
Meet your guides, assemble your bikes and come to the welcome briefing followed by a great dinner.
Full travel advice and group airport transfer arrangements (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.
Day 1: Thonon-les-Bains to Simplon (199km with 2600m ascent)
Kick off from Lake Geneva’s shores on quiet roads with classic Alpine scenery. The gradients of the first col, Pas de Morgins (1371m) are pleasant and give you a nice holiday feel by the time you get your first carnet stamp. Descending into Switzerland’s Rhone Valley you pass the 2000yr old towns of Martigny, Sion & Sierre. This section is flat(ish) so it’s worth working in a group before the ‘break’ is over at Brig with the start of the Simplon Pass (2006m). Apart from a rude start, it gains height gracefully and you will love the climb. After a photo at the top you descend to the village of Simplon for some Swiss hospitality.
Day 2: Simplon to San Bernardino (157km with 2240m ascent)
Digest breakfast on the 35km descent into Italy (already 3 countries in as many days!). It’s a beautiful road to Masera where you climb Druogno (831m) to warm up the climbing legs and get your carnet stamped. The Sella Piano di Sale (941m) lies between you and Lake Locarno, cycling around which is very pleasant indeed! You pass through Bellinzona with its UNESCO heritage hill top chateau before the last significant climb today: the Passo de San Bernardino (2065m). We aptly stay in the mountain village of San Bernardino.
Day 3: San Bernardino to Saint Moritz (118km with 2600m ascent)
Finish the Passo di San Bernardino (2065m) in the cool of the morning before a wonderful 18km descent to Splügen. The infamous Splügen Pass beckons you with its incredible views and cafe at the top. It is all downhill to Chiavenna (30km!) but it is not over yet as you still have the Passo del Maloja (1815m) to conquer before reaching the well-known destination of Saint Moritz.
Day 4: Saint Moritz to Coldrano (143km with 2900m ascent)
Staying high for a while the route undulates over 5 massive cols, just dipping down 3/400m in between each. Fabulous mountain riding. The largest is the last in line, the Passo dello Stelvio (2758m) which needs little introduction. Its a bit of a beast with many 8.5% sections and a few at 9% so you’ll be pleased to get to the top! Refuel at the top and put on all your layers for an epic descent all the way to our hotel in Coldrano – enjoy!
Day 5: Coldrano to Selva Val Gardena (148km with 3260m ascent)
You descend for 30+km to start today, so won’t be too tempted to take the short cut to Bolzano, instead heading into the hills to climb the Passo dello Palade (1512m) and the Passo della Mendola (1363m) for a carnet stamp. A wicked descent to Bolzano (we avoid the busy roads by using the cycle paths here) before finally climbing into the Dolomites and being rewarded with breathtaking views of the towering limestone peaks. This will hopefully distract you from the ‘upsettingly steep’ Passo del Pinei (1437m), still to be climbed before our hotel in Selva Val Gardena!
Day 6: Selva Val Gardena to Pocol (102km with 3100m ascent)
On today’s route you’ll discover why the Dolomites have become a cycling Mecca as you take on many of the climbs made famous by the Maratona Sportive. The Passo Sella (2244m) comes first with 10 – 11% sections, so you will be nicely warmed up for the classic climbs to follow: Passo Pordoi (2239m), Passo di Campolongo (1875m) and the Passo di Valparola (2198m). You’ll hardly notice the Colle di Santa Lucia (1435m) before the final climb of the day. The Passo di Giau (2233m) is a sting in the tail: generally 10% with a couple of 12.5% sections to get you truly grimacing. Enjoy the ambience of this truly stunning place from the terrace of the cafe before descending to our hotel in the alpine hamlet of Pocol, where we spend two nights.
Day 7: Cortina & Tre Cime Lavaredo (66km with 1880m ascent)
Almost a rest day today, so you can enjoy a bit of the Dolomites off the bike and recuperate slightly! The scenery is just stunning and you will love climbing the Passo Tre Croci (1805m) before descending to the beautifully tranquil Lago di Misurina aka ‘Pearl of the Dolomites’. Between you and your next carnet stamp lies a cheeky ascent (some would say brutal climb) up the Tre Cime di Lavaredo to the Refuge Auronzo, with 4km of 11.5% (did we really say rest day!?). Head back to Cortina via the Passo di Cimabanche (1530m) and up to our hotel for a relaxing afternoon – unless you would rather climb the Passo Falzarego (2105m)…
Day 8: Pocol to Tolmezzo (162km with 2700m ascent)
Enjoy stunning views of the Tre Cime from the other side today. The gentle gradients of the Passo di Cimabanche take you back up to the Raid route and a roll-down to Dobbiaco with a distinctly Austrian feel. The Passo Monte Croce di Comelico (1626m) is very enjoyable but the significant climbs are the Sella Ciampigotto (1790m) and Sella di Razzo (1760m), interspersed with descents to picturesque mountain lake resorts. The last ‘proper’ col of your Raid is the Passo del Pura (1428m) from where you descend to Tolmezzo.
Day 9: Tolmezzo to Trieste (134km with 650m ascent)
It feels like you are nearly there but there is still some distance and three little pimples between you and a BIG, very well deserved celebration in Trieste!
Day 10: Travel Back
We offer transfers from the hotel to Venice Airport (2hrs) at specific times.
Full travel advice and our group airport transfer arrangements (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.