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Thomson Tales

Welcome to Italy / Benvenuti in Paradiso


 

The home of style, the birthplace of art & architecture and one of the last bastions of true gastronomy. Italy is a destination for everyone to enjoy, but the ultimate experience for cyclists looking for an unforgettable challenge in an incredible setting. With its mountainous topography, spectacular landscapes and deep seated cycling DNA, Italy is any cyclist’s spiritual home. Welcome to Italy, Benvenuti in Paradiso.

Italy is a young country with an ancient heart. Unified in 1861, Bel Paese is a country that has never fully embraced its status as a nation. With countless personalities defining each of its 20 regions, the Italian character is as eclectic as it is distinct. It’s this identity that creates such an air of romance in the country’s culture and adds to the mystique of cycling the famous climbs and unknown strade alike.

In 2020 we invite you to join us on one of our four Italian trips; from the race viewing and challenging riding of the Giro d’Italia to the breathtaking scenery of the Trans-Dolomites Challenge, from the big mountains and Barolo wine of the Trans-Piedmont Challenge to the insanely difficult Ruta Negra Italia – the ultimate challenge for any hardcore cyclist.

Spectacular Landscapes

Famous for painters and artists, Italy has produced many spectacular landscapes. One of Italy’s many famous sons, Leonardo da Vinci, was the first to prove the earth was not flat. He was clearly familiar with the Dolomites and Alps. The mountain regions have been the home to cycling for over a century, made famous by the greatest races on earth.

A Feast of Many Kinds

Italy maybe be a feast for the eyes but it’s gastronomic charms are legendary. With simplicity at its heart, the local food is ingenious and sophisticated. From pasta to truffles and gelato to cannoli, there are delicious treats around every corner. Our Piedmont trips take us to the heart of Barolo country, so for those who enjoy red wine there is plenty to appeal at the end of a tough day in the saddle. La vita all’italiana is rich reward for all your efforts.

Culture and Style

The birthplace of the renaissance groans under the weight of its cultural superpowers. The land that brought us Michaelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus also brought us both Fausto Coppi and his timeless Persol sunglasses. Where else does art and life join so seamlessly – beauty, style and panache were seemingly born in Italy. The impressively dressed strangers drinking never ending espressos prove that Italians are dedicated to living well and enjoying the finer things in life.

Cycling Heritage

So many of our favourite cycling benchmarks come from this great latin land; Colnago, Bianchi, Campagnolo and Selle Royale to name but a few. Our own Basso rental bikes are Italian, chosen for their grace and poise and inimitable style on the road. So many cycling campionissimi were crafted here; Bartali, Coppi, Gimondi, Moser and Pantani are legends of the sport. Without them we wouldn’t have the sport we do today where style and flair are as important as technical ability and fitness. Much like racing cars, coffee machines and scooters – if it’s Italian, it’s cool.

Forza Italia

Our love for Italy grows with every trip; the country, gastronomy, people and vast heritage all combine to create an atmosphere that defines our experiences. But what remains the most important factor for us is always the ride. Our trips are defined by the routes we ride and the roads we challenge ourselves on. We have crafted and refined all of our Italia trips to create four stunning cycling experiences for you. Join us in 2020 to experience the best Italy has to offer.


Giro d’Italia — May 23 – 29

 

Our GIRO KOM Challenge provides the perfect mix of LIVE race-viewing and challenging rides on the famous routes and climbs of the GIRO in the Italian Alps.

The Giro Organisers have designed another challenging and spectacular route with a focus on long, tough stages with lots of climbing. They’ve also been quite creative with the inclusion of many lesser-known but really spectacular climbs such as Piancavallo, Mount Etna, Sella Chianzutan, Forcella Valbona and a thrilling finale to Stage 16 with the peloton climbing Monte Ragogna 3 times before the finish in San Daniele del Friuli. Of course the legendary Passo Stelvio will play a huge role in the final outcome.

Our trip focuses on the 4 intensive stages at the beginning of the final week. We’ll witness the Stage Finish on the HC climb to Piancavallo, we’ll be on Monte Ragogna for a unique opportunity to witness the race go by 3 times on the same climb. With the help of our bike partner, Basso Bikes, we have a special day in store for you in Basso’s home town, Bassano del Grappa, where we’ll witness the start of Stage 17 followed by a ride up the legendary Monte Grappa. We’ll round off the trip with a special day of race-viewing on the mot famous of Grand Tour climbs, the Passo Stelvio!

Read our full itinerary for more information and book now.


Ruta Negra Italia — Aug 8 – 22

 

An amazing trip concept that will test the most hardcore cyclists. La Ruta Negra is a 15 day cycling challenge whose goal is to conquer as many HC climbs as possible.

The Ruta Negra Italia follows a spectacular, masterfully-designed route that will tackle the toughest peaks in the Italian Alps, including Stelvio, Mortirolo, Gavia, Zoncolan, Monte Grappa, Finestre and many more. This will certainly be the most challenging 2 weeks you’ve ever spent on a bike.

Read our full itinerary for more information and book now.


Trans-Dolomites

 — Jul 25 – 1 Aug / Sep 5 – 12

Made famous by the Giro d’Italia, the Italian Dolomites are some of the most notorious, dramatic and transcendent peaks in all of Europe. They are a rite of passage for every avid cyclist.

The Stelvio, the Gavia, and the Mortirolo are just a few of the famed climbs that make cyclists flock to the region. Our newly designed route includes the infamous Monte Zoncolan and Monte Crostis! The Zoncolan, along with the Angliru in Spain, is widely considered the most difficult climb of the Grand Tours. The climb starts under a banner that reads “Welcome to the Gates of Hell.” We’ve also added the Monte Crostis, a climb that was removed from the Giro because it was considered too brutal. The Giro had nets set up along the edge of the descent to catch riders, but don’t worry, we’re not going down that way!

Beyond the celebrated cycling culture, enjoy the breathtaking landscape, majestic mountains, charming Alpine villages, and that renowned Italian food and wine. The Dolomites do not disappoint. We’ve designed one of the hardest routes across the region, and you’ll thank us for it.


Trans-Piedmont — Aug 22 – 29

 

The trip starts in the eastern part of the region which is characterized by rolling hills and famous wine! We’ll ride through the incredibly beautiful Langhe region, home to Barolo, one of Italy’s top wines. We’ll stay at the Hotel Albergo dell’Agenzia, former residence of King Carlo Alberto of Savoy, and enjoy a wine tasting at the famous Wine Bank within the hotel walls.

The serious climbing starts with the Colle della Fauniera, a dramatic climb that has it’s place in the Top 5 most spectacular climbs in Europe. The Queen stage comes on Day 6 when we take a brief excursion into French territory over the 50km Colle dell’Agnello, topping out at 2744m on the French border, followed by Tour de France classic, the Col d’Izoard, then back into Italy via the Col de L’Echelle. The final day features one of Europe’s toughest climbs, the Colle delle Finestre, where Alberto Contador cracked in the 2015 Giro d’Italia. Bring your best climbing legs for this trip!

Read our full itinerary for more information and book now.