The Pale Mountains
If you were given a blank canvas and tasked with creating the perfect playground for cyclists then it would more than likely look exactly like the Dolomites. Part of the Southern Limestone Alps their unparalleled natural beauty extends from the River Adige in the west to the Piave Valley in the east.
Criss-crossed with a multitude of stunning passes that link the idyllic valleys and their exquisite towns such as Corvara, Cortina d’Ampezzo and Canazei they are like no other mountain range on earth. The Dolomites have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since June 2009.
Named after the 18th-century French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu who was the first to describe the light grey carbonate rock they are made of, the Dolomites are famed for their towering peaks that protrude from the wonderfully manicured farm land interspersed with patches of conifer forest.
Although having featured in many Giros and been witness to heroics from Fausto Coppi, through Eddy Merckx and into the modern day the Dolomites belong to the amateur rider. With manageable climbs and epic scenery they play host to the famous Maratona dles Dolomites and many other festivals of cycling.
The Dolomites offer some of the best weather in the Alps with less precipitation than anywhere else in the range. In summer temperatures don’t climb much higher than 25 degrees and you can rely on plenty of sun and a fresh wind. Conditions are also good in the autumn then the snow usually arrives in December and lasts to March.
Generally but with the odd exception the Dolomite passes are easier to climb than those you’ll find elsewhere in the Alps. They all start from a high altitude and many summit well over 2000 metres with the gradients tending to hover around the 7-8% mark so should be comfortable for all to ride.
Points of interest
Corvara in Badia is the main center of the Alta Badia tourist industry and caters for both winter and summer sports making it very popular with visitors throughout the whole year.
At the top of the Passo Falzarego sits the open air museum of Mount Lagazuoi with its restored tunnels, trenches and machine gun posts where you can earn about the high altitude battles of WW1.
In the heart of the Dolomites on Monte Rite (2181 m) between Pieve di Cadore and Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Museum in the Clouds, is one of the six Messner Mountain Museums (MMM) and offers a sensational 360° panorama view of the Dolomites.
On top of the Passo Pordoi stands a monument to the great Fausto Coppi or Il Campionissimo (the Champion of Champions) who became synonymous with this climb during his dominance.
One of the grandest examples of Dolomite peaks are the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, composed of the Cima Grande, Cima Ovest and the Cima Piccolo (Little, Big and Western).
"The Pordoi is like my life force. This mountain has given me so much, right from when I used to come here as a ten-year-old kid, and we'd throw a blanket on the grass and have a party"
Let Us Help You Create the Perfect Cycling Adventure
Tell us about your dream tour, and we'll be in touch with our customised recommendations just for you.