The Tre Cime di Lavaredo are a group of three giant dolomite peaks which until 1919 formed part of both the linguistic and political border between Italy and Austria-Hungary. One of the most recognizable sights in the Dolomites and consequently one of its most frequently visited attractions the road to the summit does get busy, although the €30 car toll does deter many.
A favourite of the Giro d’Italia it was first included in 1967, however that inaugural stage was subsequently declared null and void due to the amount of riders who received helping pushes from spectators as they struggled on the savage gradients. The following year, presumably having fitted a better range of gears the peloton returned and the great Eddy Merckx took a victory that he declared one of his best ever.
You’ll have plenty of climbing in your legs by the time you reach Misurina at the base of the climb no matter what direction you have arrived from so a stop to refuel here is very much recommended. Leaving the small town you head east from the SP49 into the first part of the ascent, a short, twisting kilometre to get your legs warmed back up before it drops down to cross the flat valley floor.
Passing the toll booth you soon arrive at maybe the hardest three and a half kilometres of climbing in the Dolomites. Never dropping below 10% this finish has broken even the world’s best riders so as your legs and lungs scream you can rest assured that pretty much every cyclist to have ridden here has felt exactly the same.
Points of interest
The front line between Italy and Austria-Hungary during World War I ran straight through the Tre Cime peaks and there are a number of fortifications, trenches, tunnels and commemorative plaques in the area.
Arriving from Cortina d’Ampezzo in the west or Auronzo in the east you will pass through Misurina and its collection of cafés and souvenir shops before turning to the summit.
There is a toll booth on the climb where cars must pay €30 if they want to continue on to the summit which does make the road a bit quieter for cyclists.
The Rifugio Auronzo alle Tre Cime di Lavaredo that sits at the top beneath the giant towers dates back to 1957 and offers a wide selection of food a drink to restore weary travellers.
The Tre Cime
The Tre Cime, or three peaks at the summit are named the Cima Grande, Cima Ovest and the Cima Piccolo (Little, Big and Western) and dominate the scenery for kilometres around.
The climb has been a true star of the Giro since the 1960s with stage winners ranging from Eddy Merckx to Vincenzo Nibali.
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