Thomson Tales

Behind the Gray Door: VIP Campagnolo Factory Tour, Granfondo Roma, Giro Finale and More

[alert type=red ]**UPDATE** Since this post was written, The Campagnolo Gran Fondo has decided to return to its original dates of October 14. This means that the Campagnolo Experience Trip is now running from October 13 – 21, and will no longer be running in parallel with the Giro d’Italia.[/alert]

Special thanks to all our clients who made last year’s trip to the Campagnolo mothership in Vicenza such a success. The factory tour/Campagnolo Gran Fondo combination was so popular we’re adding a special twist to this year’s version:  VIP seats directly on the arrivo of  the 21st and final stage of the 2018 Giro d’Italia.

Che c’e’ di Nuovo per Campagnolo 2018? 

Primo.  The Granfondo Campagnolo Roma has moved from chilly October to the much more rider-friendly month of May. And,  conveniently enough, on the first full day after your arrival in Rome. Take your VIP position at the head of the bunch as you and your TBT friends lead 6,500 new riding buddies through the twisting, closed-off streets of The Eternal City. Then head out into the rolling Lazio countryside with its Roman acciottolato (cobbles), centuries-old castles, medieval villages and spectacular landscapes.

The route is 120 km with 2000 m of climbing, including four timed sections:

  • Panoramica (Lake Albano). 2.3 km, 5.9%, 8% max.
  • Murus (Rocca di Papa). 1.1 km,  10.3%,  16%(!) max.
  • Rocca Priora–Trofeo Corriere dello Sport 6 km, 6.3%, 13% max.
  • Rostrum (Montecompatri), a 0.72 kilometer “wall” at 12%,  18% (!!) max.
You are Not Here. You’re over There, in the VIP section, in your front row seat, right on the traguardo.

Secondo. Once you’re cooled down and cleaned up from the Gran Fondo, it’s back to the heart of Rome for the final day’s racing in the 101st Giro d’Italia.

Unlike last year’s ITT, this year’s route is flat and “undemanding”…. which means the speeds will be high, competition fierce and the sprints hair-raising. Start and finish are on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, halfway between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia. The first half of the circuit goes through the old city via the Circus Maximus to the Colosseum, while the second half is a straight line to the finish line. Which is to say, exactly where you’ll be sitting on the VIP platform.

Welcome to Tuscany. A few days of this and you’ll know why they decided to hold the Renaissance here.

Get out of town. Note the sampietrino (patterned cobbles).

Stairway to Heaven: Let the Climbing Commence

If the Gran Fondo didn’t dish up enough climbing to keep your legs happy, the next eight days of riding certainly will. Starting with a “warm-up day” as we roll out of Rome and take on three long climbs en route to our hotel in the picturesque village of Orvieto, famous for its spectacular cathedral perched high atop the sheer cliff at the edge of town.

Then it’s on into the famous hills that make Tuscany a world cycling mecca.

We’ll be riding about 600 km over the next five days and averaging just under 3000 meters per day of pure climbing as we explore the beautiful Tuscan countryside.

As usual, Thomson saves the best for last.

The Giro gives the redoubtable Monte Grappa a miss in 2018, but we won’t. And to make up for the peloton’s absence, we’ll do it twice, once from each direction.

One of the most storied and difficult climbs in Italy, the HC Fare il Grappa is in the same category as the Stelvio or Ventoux. And at twice up and twice down, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find out why. 


Yes, there really is a Gray Door. It leads to the R&D/Fabrication area. And you’ll be inside it.

Backstage Pass: the Insiders’ Tour of Campagnolo World Headquarters

But before we tackle Grappa, we’ll  take a day to cycle to the Via della Chimica in Vicenza for a chance to visit the home to 85 years of cycling innovation. No matter which equipment brand you prefer, you have to admit a heritage stretching back more than four-fifths of a century sets Campagnolo apart.

As it says on the Campagnolo website in five languages, We’re sorry but it is not possible to visit our company. We are not organised to manage tours in the Campagnolo factory. 

Fortunately, we aren’t visitors here but invited guests. So we’re met at the door and welcomed inside. We’ll explore the heritage and technology on display in the public areas for a bit. And once we’ve enjoyed the scenes, our guides will take us behind them.

From R&D to fabrication and assembly to testing and shipment you’ll go not just inside the Campagnolo factory, but deep into the heart and soul of the brand itself. And—who knows?—there may even be the opportunity for a chat and a handshake with Mr. Valentino Campagnolo himself.

May Gets Closer Every Week

We opened the Campagnolo Experience trip to reservations in mid-December of 2017; spaces are already going fast. If you’re interested in a once-in-a-lifetime experience deep inside the heart of Italian cycling culture, this is your chance.

We’ll pick you and your bike up inside the Rome airport on 26 May. See you there.