We have crossed the entire Alps, challenged by fairly cold weather but rewarded with fantastic blue sky, getting deeper and deeper approaching the Mediterranean coast. And now we are coming towards the end of the tour. We have kept for you a very amazing ride as the cherry on the top of the cake: today we are gonna explore the Gorge du Verdun, arguably the most exciting and scenic canyon of Europe.
"Ehy guys, would you like a 120km or 200km rest day tomorrow?"
"Manuel... we want 220km"
Alright... so here we go: full loop to the Sanctuary Madonne d'Utelle, the gorgeous Col de Turini road (one of the stages of Montecarlo Rally), then down to Monaco visiting Montecarlo for lunch, closing the day with a stroll on the (very) busy Promenade in Nice.
Our last transfer day is bringing us towards the French Riviera, where we are going to spend three nights. However, another majestic mountain pass will delight our route today: Col de la Bonette and the scenic loop around Cime de la Bonette, bringing us to 2802m, even higher than the highest pass of Europe that we crossed yesterday.
Our long journey is bringing us to the westermost part of the Alps: today we are leaving Italy (good bye perfect espressos... we are gonna miss you terribly) and enter France (good morning perfect croissants), where we are gonna spend our last 4 days of the tour. The destination for today is Alpe d'Huez, a very busy ski resort in winter and a fairly sleepy place in low season. The good point for us is the total absence of traffic along these roads!
Let's start with a big highlight today: after riding once again the great Oberalp Pass we embark in a new adventure: Gotthard Pass taken from Via Tremola, the old road, still all in coble stones. Later on we cross Nufenen Pass above 2400m and we leave the German speaking Switzerland to enter the French part.
In the afternoon we challenge ourself with another fantastic pass: the Grand St. Bernard is really jaw dropping!
The weather is getting better: the morning wakes us up with some low clouds while we follow the east shore of lake Lugano, washing our bikes (and testing the waterproofness of our gear) on the way up to passo Lucomagno, clearing up later on for the best part of the ride: three amazing passes will put lots of smiles on our face: Sustenpass, Grimselpass, Furkapass and Oberalppass. Simply stunning!
Yes! As soon as we leave Livigno with the fresh morning air (2°C on the pass) the myst leaves space for some blue sky. The majestic Bernina Pass with the glacier in the background is quite an highlight!
Later on we pass St. Moritz and Julier Pass, descending then towards the narrow gorge Via Mala (impressive stone bridge several hundreds years old). Splügen pass is our next challenge, what a crazy zig-zag!
In the afternoon we cruise along lake Como (with a stop in Menaggio, facing Bellagio on the other shore), ending our day in Lugano on the omonymous lake.
This morning the weather doesn't play well for us but... who cares! We are gonna enjoy this day anyway, dancing in the rain while we wait for better weather in the following days!
We have to adjust the route a bit, trimming here and there where the road is not enjoyable in this road condition. Stelvio has to be removed from our riding menu, it is snowing up there today and there i zero visibility as well.
In the afternoon the sky clears up a bit and suddenly over Pass del Fuorn, just before entering Italy again with the Tunnel de la Schera we even have a glimpse of sunshine! Beautiful end for the first ride.
Innsbruck is the getaway for this special tour across the Alps that we put together for our very loyal Brazilian group: for the fifth time they have decided to join us in their discovery of the world on two wheels! Evandro and Monica, Marcelo and Christiane, Joao and Marcia, Mauro and Daniela, Alexandre, Henri, Alejandro are all ready to ride!
Manuel is setting up the bikes and the briefing: we will cross entirely the Alpine mountain range, challenging the riders (and their very, very brave passengers) with some of the most thrilling passes that Europe can offer!