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Piemonte "A"

10-20 July 2020 (Riding Days)

Where cycling and religion seem to have created a unique culture together! WARNING : THIS EVENT CONTAINS A LOT OF STEEP GRADIENTS, even by CCC standards!

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A new CCC destination in a region where cycling and religion seem to be inextricably linked : from Lombardy to Cuneo, this route is composed of dozens of “Sanctuary Climbs” : steep, narrow climbs to villages perched on hill ridges above which a saintly shrine gives cause for some of the most challenging and surprisingly well-maintained roads one could hope to find anywhere. From the best roads of the Tour of Lombardy ( including the Ghisallo and the Sormano) across to the Piemonte region via the Italian and Swiss lakes, down to three nights in Cuneo via Ivrea and Pinerolo. Mid-event Classic climbs like the Lombarde, Dei Morti, Sampeyre, Agnel, Izoard, Finestre ( all climbed in the opposite direction to that used in CCC S. Alps) add a truly mountainous flavour to this event. But then it’s back to what Piemonte does best : more steep ‘n narrow, twisting wooded climbs on our sinuous way back to the Lago di Como. The Passo San Marco creates the perfect dramatic finale for this wonderful new “CCC Baby”!

Please email Phil for any questions.

A fascinating exploration of the way cycling and religion have made this region perhaps the best area of them all in Italy
Phil EP

The Stages

Stage One

San Pellegrino Terme Loop

184KM / 5100M

Main climbs:
Passo Salmezza, Colle Gallo, Colle di San Fermo, Parzanica, Ranzanico, Passo Ganda

Sharp climbs set the scene from km five on this intro Loop stage. After a typical rise to a Madonna sanctuary we enjoy a sweepig descent into the Valle di Serio, from where tackle the Colle Gallo, known locally as the "Picolo Gavia"! From here we swoop down to our first lake-side section of the event, along the Lago d'Iseo. This combination of steep-sided hills and tranquil lakes is typical of all of the Lombardy part of this Journey. After a brief flat recovery section, we toil our ways up to the ridiculously balanced hill-top village of Parzanica, before we head back down to the lake via an equally scary road! Welcome to CCC Piemonte! To find our way back to San Pellegrino we will take roads that are as narrow, remote and as steep as any we will meet in the whole event. BUT, we remain on tarmac! This who have ridden the CC Dolomites will recognise the final section of this stage over the Paso Ganda which was Col #100 on that event. Our own journey has only just begun !!

Stage Two

San Pellegrino Terme to Como

196KM / 4800M

Main climbs:
Sant Antonio Abbandonato, Valcava, Valbrona, Madonna di Ghisallo, Muro di Sormano, Civiglio

This stage covers the best parts of the Giro di Lombardia, and a bit more! Another busy, but narrow and steep climb to a "Perruchia"opens the stage taking us over in the Valle Brembilla from where we have a shorter 'practise climb' before taking on the long but wonderful Valcava climb, one of the most well-known of the region. An equally thrilling descent is followed by a slightly gentler section which brings us to the shores of the eastern 'branch' of the Lago di Como. The brief flat ride along it's shore provides a welcome relief before we take on the two most renowned climbs of this route : the Ghisallo and the Muro di Sormano. Steep will take on a new meaning for those who ride the Muro for the first time. From here we earn ourselves another lakeshore section before the Civiglio climb in Como, which is the traditional closer of the race itself.

Stage Three

Como to Biella

192KM / 3200M

Main climbs:
Besazio, Bogogno, Brochetta di Sassera, Colle del Colma

A transition stage from Lombardy to the Piemonte region itself. Once round Varese and through Campo dei Fiori Regional Park, we cross into the Piemonte region itself on the bridge at the southern tip of Lago Maggiore. Fast rolling roads now bring us across the plain and into some of the spectacular hills this region is so well known for. The duet of the finale 'sanctuary climbs' on this stage are two of the most impressive of the whole event : the first being a very 'civilised' manicured affair; the second an ultra-narrow and scarily remote road that tops with an old chiselled tunnel. Views are the best, the road surface is perfect, the Albergo near the top provides one of the most perfect spots to stop you will ever find.

Stage Four

Biella to Pinerolo

204KM / 4300M

Main climbs:
Croce Sierra, Alice Superiore, Filia, Monte di Belmonte, Forcola, Lys, Braida

An early short, sharp climb from Biella opens this stage characterised by several of the narrowest and often steepest roads in the region. The more frequented climb to the Belmonte monastery is almost a relief, such is the intensity of these smaller climbs! The latter part of the stage is marked by our arrival into 'Giro territory', with a climb up the north side of the very impressive Colle del Lys (Giro 2019) followed by the Braida before a gentle run-in to Pinerolo.

Stage Five

Pinerolo to Cuneo

218KM / 5700M

Main climbs:
Montoso, Barge, Isasca, Sampeyre, Dei Morti

Having checked out the 13% cobbled climb that featured in the final kilometre of the Cuneo to Pinerolo stage 12 of the Giro 2019, we head up another nano-narrow climb before taking on the other big star of the same stage : the Colle Montoso. Fine Giro tarmac helps us both ascend and above all descend this wonderful but long ascent. Gradually we leave the dense wooded hills for more open landscape and join climbs familiar to CCC Southern Alps riders : the duo of Sampeyre and Essichie / Dei Morti are always worth the effort required to scale both, with some of the most impressive mountain views of the event offered by the latter climb. The superb descent helps us well on our way to Cuneo where we stay for three nights.

Rest Day

Cuneo

Stage Six

Cuneo Loop

202KM / 5100M

Main climbs:
Lago di Entracque, Lombarde, Dei Morti, Esischie.

A loop stage with the Giants, including two 'up & back's'. The first of these is an exceptional, seldom-ridden climb up to a mountain lake with one of the most impressively engineered mountain hydro stations to be found anywhere. Then, rather appropriately the Colle di Lombarde marks the southern most tip of our journey. Here we climb this magic mountain from it's "better" side ! To wrap up this simple but exquisite loop, in a similar way to the Lombarde, we climb the Dei Morti on it's more 'classic' side. To include two ascensions of this extraordinary climb in this event is a very deliberate choice : all of the three ways to climb this mountain are roads any High Rider should do at some point. That the superb statue of "Il Pirata"finds itself at the top confirms that, surely?!

Stage Seven

Cuneo to Sestriere

187KM / 5600M

Main climbs:
Passo di San Pietro, Santuaire di Valmala, Agnel, Izoard, Montgenevre, Sestriere

Another intriguingly narrow Sanctuary climb opens the stage before we join the long introduction to the toughest side of the Colle di Agnelo. The highest point of the event will disappoint no one. Exquisite Mountain Beauty. Next up, in our little excursion into France, the harder of the two sides of the Izoard with it's upward passage through the exceptional "Casse Deserte". The duo of the Montgenevre and the Sestriere, by the 'alternative' road, closes the 'High Mountains' section of this event, and brings us back into Italy.

Stage Eight

Sestriere to Ivrea

219KM / 4700M

Main climbs:
Finestre, Lys, Passo della Croce, Dieta, Forcola

Ascending the Finestre on the 'tarmac side' and descending the gravel side is rarely done, but just as impressive as the classic way. It's the first challenge of this log stage which brings us back into the heart of Piemonte. The southern ascent of the Colle di Lys follows, with several tough sections and a grand view at the summit. From here all the way to Ivrea we are back into the 'steep and narrow', exploring roads that are the lifelines of the hill-top villages perched stubbornly on vertiginous ridges. Our lakeside hotel ( Lago di Sirio) will provide a well deserved restful overnight stay.

Stage Nine

Ivrea to Varese

185KM / 3800M

Main climbs:
Croce Serra, Pettinengo, Cuvignone, San Bernardo, Motta Rossa

Back across the plain that separates Piemonte from Lombardia, this stage mixes some more Sanctuary Climbs with some faster rolling roads as we approach the Lago di Maggiore. The Passo Cuvignone stands out as the toughest climb of the stage with some magnificent views. From here the stage ends with a relatively tame run-in to Varese via the Motta Rossa pass.

Stage Ten

Varese to San Pellegrino Terme

178KM / 4130M

Mountains and Lakes : our little excursion into Switzerland takes us along the shores of Lago di Lugano before we cut across to the Lago di Como over some very "steep-in-places" roads as we cut across between the two lakes. A superb lake-side cycle path helps us on our way along the Lago di Como as we head up to it's northern tip. From here we make our way to one of the best ways to finish a CCC journey yet : the ascent and descent of the very imposing Passo San Marco. Once above the tree line, the landscape opens up brutally to reveal the barren wilderness which contrasts so strikingly with the "civilised" lakes of northern Italy and Switzerland! The descent takes 25kms to bring our journey to a thrilling end! Perfettissimo !!

A nice place to go to church.... Most of this route is quite 'civilised', but there are some glimpses of The Wild I asked the locals : "It says No Entry, but we all go through. The sign is almost worn away anyway.... You'll be fine!" 7am on the recon drive and I stopped here. This is near the top of one of the best climbs of the event. The steepest bit of tarmac of the event. Could be painful. There are so many roads like this : narrow, twisting, wooded, (very) upwards Another one that looks like it's a Road to Nowhere, but of course leads to a tiny remote clutter of houses. on the way up to Lagos di Entracque. What a climb!! Up & back & so worth it. I love the "older" Madonna in the background keeping an eye on the Angel and the Cyclist The part of this route with real mountains. 2700m is our Cima Coppi, on the Agnello. Cuneo : I was so happy to design a route around a three-night stay in this wonderful town. Colle di Agnello / Col d'Agnel. Our passage into France, for a bit. At last the CCC climbs it for the Italian side. Out if Italy, into France; just for the Izoard and Montgenevre. A pretty good reason !