18-28 May 2021

Even the roads themselves somehow reflect the ‘free spirit’ of the “Island of Beauty”!

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Final Chance to ride this route

Possibly the closest a Cent Cols Challenge gets to a “holiday” : two nights in each hotel (every other stage is a loop ride) ; fewer double-digit climbs; regular sea-views and beach-located hotels. But beware : there are very few flat kilometres on this Island of Beauty. Roads are often remote and in need of some repair. ‘Free range’ domestic animals share our roads frequently. The “Pirate” emblem of Corsica is so appropriate : this wonderful island oozes free spirit and one cannot leave untouched by the raw intensity of the landscape and indeed of the islanders themselves. For a real sense of adventure on the most remote and challenging roads in Corsica, this route is unbeatable. ! I will be sad to ride this one for the final time.

Another amazing route : you cracked it again - perhaps the best CCC I’ve done so far. I had no idea Corsica had so many roads that no one else seems to use!
M Edwards, CCC Corsica 2014

The Stages

Stage One

Bastia to Corte

220 KM / 4200 M

Main climbs:
Cols de Terghine, San Stefano, Bigorno, San Gavino, Casardo, San Cervone

Following a grand view of the western coast from the Col de Terghine, the route takes us due south across wooded hills, remote villages and over eight main climbs. We almost come back down to sea-level after a 26km downhill section , near San Guiliano, before an even longer climb due west up to the Col de Casardo. From here it is a bumpy ride further inland to the busy town of Corte.

Stage Two

Corte to Corte

190KM / 4380M

Main climbs:
Cols de Vergio, Sevi, Vizzavona, Serra, Bellagranajo

A stage of contrasts : the opening climb, the Col de Vergio, climbs for almost 50kms and is rightly considered the most beautiful and challenging on the island. Narrow roads with jaw-dropping views keep the mind busy. An equally entrancing road awaits on the downward side towards Porto. Then another of Corsica’s wildly remote roads tackles rocky hillsides taking us south-east. It is then a long slog to the top of the Vizzavona, but at least the 'old road' is still there for us to battle the climb away from traffic. One final smaller climb interrupts an otherwise perfect descent section to the stage's end.

Stage Three

Corte to Propriano

195KM / 4,250M

Main climbs:
Cols de San Quilico, Erbajo, Morello, Sorba, Verde, Vaccia, Ste Eustache

After the exceptionally beautiful climb to the Col de Sorba, the greater part of this stage follows the green spine of Corsica : a fabulous mixed forest through which the D69 struggles to find its way. Most of the tarmac on this stage is almost brand new; some isn’t…. The Col de Verde tops the stage, leaving three climbs and some fabulous descents before we end by the sea!

Stage Four

Propriano to Propriano

197KM / 3,900M

Main climbs:
Cols de Bilia, Bacinu, Bocca d'Illarata, Siu.

This stage takes us from the west across to the eastern coast, via the impressive Col de Bacinu. Evergreen oak forests on the way over; a brief bit of flat road before arriving in Porto Vecchio, then the famous Ospedale (Illarata) climb back up, through pine forest and boulders. True unique Corsica landscape as we head back to the western shore.

Stage Five

Propriano to Porticcio

165KM / 3,500M

Main climbs:
Cols de Bavella, Vaccia,Granaccia, Bellevalle

From one port to another, our route goes inland first, heading towards the curious rock formation of the “Aiguilles de Bavella”. Back down through the charming village of Zonza, we then head north-east along more twisting roads, taking on the Col de Vaccia from its southern side this time, before rolling along a bumpy section that includes several Cols, but never any major climbs. A very pleasant 28km of “overall downhill” takes us to our beach hotel where we stay for three nights. (Including our mid-event REST DAY)

Rest day


Stage Six

Porticcio to Porticcio

195KM / 3,900M

Main climbs:
Cols de Cortone, Chenova, Crichetto, Val d'Eze, Scalella

A southern swoop along the coast opens the stage before some sharp climbing inland towards the Col de Cortone which dominates the forest of Chiavari.The mid-stage climb to Val d'Eze is the highest road point of the island. More narrow roads (few back lanes are left unexplored by the end of our trip) eventually take us to the 20 km section to the top of the beautiful Scalella. Another long descent down to sea level closes the stage perfectly.

Stage Seven

Porticcio to Porto

188KM / 4,000M

Main climbs:
Cols de San Bastiano, Bocca di Sarcoggio, Ambiegna, Sevi

This stage takes us first of all along the west coast along a gently undulating road before veering off again onto the ‘lost’ roads of the island. Harsher climbs are to be found along the way but the stage really comes alive in the last 60kms. This contains a section of truly spectacularly wild and apparently forgotten tarmac , followed by the severe climb up to the Col de Sevi –with its’ 12% final two kms. The 22km descent down into Porto is one of the best pieces of road you could ever wish to cycle on…

Stage Eight

Porto to Porto

170KM / 3,500M

Main climbs:
Cols de Vergio, Sevi, St Antoine, San Martino, Osini

A second shorter stage, but this one starts with the longest climb of the event: from sea-level to 1400m in 36kms. Descents-galore follow before a beautiful ridge section with distant sea views. Finally we plunge down to sea level for a roller-coaster ride taking us to the Grand Finale of this stage : part1 is the road to the beach via Col d'Osini; part 2 is the descent through the famous red-rock Calanches of Porto. Quite exceptional.

Stage Nine

Porto to Ile Rousse

209KM / 3,300M

Main climbs:
Cols de la Croix, Salvi, Bocca di a Battaglia, San Colombano

The first part of the two-stage tour of the north of the island. An 80km coastal stretch is a real treat to open the stage, taking us to Calvi. From here we turn inland for some higher view points of the azur blue Meditteranean. This stage includes the toughest climb of the Challenge, with a few quite steep bits! After this battle the rest of the stage seems gentle but always 'entertaining' !

Stage Ten

Ile Rousse to Bastia

162KM / 3,100M

Main climbs:
Bocca di Vezzu, Ste Lucie, Serra, San Martino di Lota

Across the 'Desert des Agriates' to begin the Tour of Capi Corsu from St Florent up along the rocky coast on perfect roads to Abro, from where we take the High Road to Pino : a very dramatic piece of tarmac! Cutting east here across the Cap via the impressive Bocca di Ste Lucia we then descend to the much tamer east coast to enjoy a fast 20kms on a sweeping smooth road. But then we head up to San Martino for some more infinity views of the azur blue sea. This stage is less predictable then might be expected and makes a perfect curtain call to this very special series of rides.