Travel Log: Austria to the Giro d’Italia

The cycle journey from the Austrian Alps to the Dolomites in Italy is not a route the professionals use, but takes in such a dramatic change in landscape that it might just be one of the finest one day cycling routes that can be done between Austria and Italy.

The previous day we had ridden over the Plockenpass to watch a gruelling stage of the 2010 stage of the Giro d’Italia on the Zoncolan.  Ivan Basso and Cadel Evans produced a spectacular race on its tough slopes. The next day we chose a gentler pace and we headed to Italy from Southern Austria via the Kartitscher Sattel.

The green meadows of Austria
The green meadows of Austria

The Kartitscher Sattel is a gentle roll upwards to 1529 metres. The pass takes in well manicured meadows pleasant villages and the ever present spectacle of the Southern Austrian on your left.

Typical view along the Kartitcher Sattel

As we swept into Italy and towards Dobbiaco, we suddenly realised the change in geography on our left as we closed in on the Dolomites.  We glanced with trepidation at the looming peaks like the Tre Cima di Laveredo.

The view over our shoulders towards the Dolomites

We headed straight for the Giau via the Passo Tre Croci.  The Dolomites were in complete contrast to the softer, greener slopes in Austria.  Rocks piled on rocks, meringue shaped peaks and improbable finger-like rock formations.  Millions of years ago this was a coral reef – the sea retreated and left these impressive rock formations that we see now.

Climbing the last part of the Giau

We had reached the 120 km point in the ride and we were concluding the last part of the journey.  However, we were still climbing the hard slopes of the Giau.  The elevation gain on the Giau (Alt: 2236 m) is 716 metres and has an average slope of 8.3%.  At 8.5 kilometres in length this was the last major obstacle before the drop down to our final destination Alleghe.  At the top of the Giau the huge cathedral-like monoliths dominate the vistas and on a clear day makes an ideal location for photographs.

Passo Giau (2236 metres)

Reflecting on the Dolomites

We rolled down into Alleghe after 140 km with tired legs and heads loaded with mountain images.  This is a challenging ride with over 2700 metres of climbing and is well worth the effort for the dramatic changes in landscape and beautiful scenery alone.  Later in the week we were to climb the passes of the Giro like the Mortirolo and Plan de Corones but this route still stands out as a classic in its own right.

Alleghe and taking in the view after over 140 km and 2700 metres of climbing

About The Author

regularly leads fully supported rides though the Alps and the Pyrenees for Thomson Bike Tours.

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