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Thomson Bike Tours: Giro d’Italia Mountain Stages
The 2011 Giro returns to two of the toughest climbs in cycling: the Zoncolan and the Colle delle Finestre. Much of the cycling world will be happy to watch on TV as the pros do battle on these 2 massive climbs – but a group of inspired and hardened cyclists will be lucky enough to actually ride these fearsome slopes ahead of the race. Peter Thomson, owner of Thomson Bike Tours, provides a close look at their performance trip to the mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia.

– Special Travel Feature By Peter Thomson of Thomson Bike Tours –

Thomson Bike Tours is well-known in the performance cyclist community for its challenging series of “King of the Mountains” trips to the Grand Tours. “We think our trip to the 2011 Giro d’Italia, which has been described as the toughest Grand Tour ever, will certainly live up to its King of the Mountain status….” suggests Pete.

Trip Stats

Witness the Key Stages of the Giro d’Italia

Experience the race on 3 occasions, LIVE from the roadside:

Stage 14 on the Monte Zoncolan
This one doesn’t really need any introduction – Thomson Bike Tours will be there to watch the pros suffer fight it out on the toughest climb in Europe!

Stage 15 on the Passo Fedaia
The Queen Stage of the 2011 Giro: 230km and 5 categorized climbs! With Thomson Bike Tours you’ll ride the Passo Giau and Passo Fedaia, the 2 penultimate climbs of the stage (which also happen to be the two hardest – how did that happen?)

Stage 20 on the Colle delle Finestre
After 3 weeks of racing this could well be where the Giro is won or lost. 12 miles at over 9% and the last 5 miles on a gravel road….OUCH! Of course the Thomson race viewing station will be close to the top…

On each of these occasions you’ll ride just ahead of the actual Giro race itself to the Thomson Bike Tour race viewing station. At the viewing station, enjoy the race from the comfort of large marquis hospitality tents including LIVE TV feed in English, picnic lunch, cool drinks and as always, the best spot on the mountain!

Peter Thomson’s Favorite Ride
As co-owner and co-founder of Thomson Bike Tours, I’ve been riding the famous Giro climbs and routes for the past 30 years. I’m still out on the road everyday leading one of the ride-groups, and there are so many good rides on next year’s Giro trip that it’s hard to pick out 1 favorite ride. The climb up the Colle delle Finestre, including the last 8km on a gravel road, will certainly be one of my highlights – and I never tire of the Ronde Sella which has to be one of the most spectacular rides in Europe. But the ride I’m most looking forward to has to be on Day 3 when we follow the Giro route over the Passo Giau and the Passo Fedaia.”

Very few climbs can match the scenic beauty of the Passo Giau (see pictures below) – the stunning vistas on the way up almost make you forget the 8.3% average grade for over 5 miles!

Descending through Selva di Cadore and down into Caprile from the Passo Giau is just fantastic. But the joys of descending are short-lived as Caprile marks the start of the next climb, the Passo Fedaia.

The Passo Fedaia is a really tough climb but it’s also up there in my list of favourites! In the initial part of the climb, the ride through the canyon surrounded by huge waterfalls is incredible and such a contrast in scenery to the Passo Giau. Out of the canyon and immediately the grade hits 15% on a long, straight section. This part really hurts! The sight of switchbacks a couple of km up the road is usually a sure sign of gentler grades, but don’t be fooled – the Fedaia switchbacks are also at 15%!

Our race viewing station will be set up on the 4th or 5th switchback – the perfect spot to get a great view of the peloton coming up the climb and get close to the riders as they ride by our tents.

The Giro d’Italia in Pictures
We’ve shot thousands of photos over the past few years as we’ve cycled our way around Europe – see some of our favorites from previous Thomson Bike Tour trips to the Giro d’Italia here:

What The Riders Say…

Here are just a few comments from riders who participated in Thomson’s 2010 Giro d’Italia trip:

“It’s been said by others before – but this trip went totally beyond my expectations. I anticipated challenging rides (and got plenty of that), but the scenery, locations, the Giro, great Thomson people, excellent organization, all made this trip one I won’t soon forget. (In fact, it just makes me want to come back and do many more trips)”
• Mark Fowler – Ontario, Canada

“One of the best cycling holidays, on every measure, that I have taken. Beautiful and challenging rides, excellent accommodation, support service and organization was unbeatable. I will be back and will refer friends”
• Andrew Handford – BC, Canada

“Not only did I totally love the trip, and plan on returning (perhaps yearly!), and plan on recommending it (already have, actually) to numerous friends…but it has made me a better rider. The very first race I did when I returned, I noticed a huge difference. And that is very, very gratifying”
• Dan Doran – WA, USA

“This was truly a “Trip of a lifetime” for me. Peter Thomson and the entire staff completely exceeded my expectations and made the trip a complete pleasure. I will definitely be back soon to try another tour – maybe in France next time”
• Brett Rutledge – MA, USA

“I was amazed by the sophistication of the logistics and the experience and thoughtfulness which underpinned them. All the support people were kind and generous and efficient. All of it was a testament to the skills and knowledge of Peter. It was an incredible experience and I am very grateful for all your good work”
• Michael Finlayson – Manitoba, Canada

“I’m a repeat client, and it looks like you guys have done it all to the highest, no fuss, good-humour level once AGAIN. You know you are in the right place as a “repeat” client when you turn up to find “repeat” staff. Clearly this is a sign of a highly functional, stable team, and this in turn gives me confidence. Also, when I left home, I secretly thought that this tour would pretty much quench my desire to do the Big Hills in Europe, and that this would be the last one of its kind. What a load of rubbish that turned out to be…having got up that @#%!*#@ Zoncolan, I KNEW that I still had the bug, and that there will indeed be another one yet. You and the team at Thomson have got it down. Everything flows… logistics… routes… hotels…. van support… comfy chairs at the Stages… awesome staff (that Margaret is a honey!)…all I need to do is get myself from A to B knowing all this is in place. Another GREAT tour, thank you Peter, Eric, Mike, Sid, John, Margaret, Andy and the 2 hunky Tent Men :)”
• Lindy Hayward – Victoria, Australia

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