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It is an experience many avid cyclists have played out in their heads. Hearing each deep breath resonate in their minds, trying to block out the thousands of supporters screaming as they line the urban boulevards of major cities hosting the grand tour of Italy.

 

Then there’s carefully making last-minute checks on their bike, ensuring all is in order. Looking left and right at their rivals, they prepare to take on one of the world's premier cycling events – the Giro d'Italia.

 

Unfortunately, most cyclists with this dream don’t get to live it out by taking part in this iconic race. But they can soak up the entire experience through A'qto Cycling – an Australian-based company that’s bringing cycling tours to some of the professional races across Italy.

 

Where passion lingers

 

Each year, the A'qto Cycling Giro d’Italia tour is mapped to mirror the path of that year’s official race in its final week. It changes annually, but the common thread is that the course will always wind through the iconic Italian Alps and Dolomites, the most picturesque of mountainous landscapes.

 

In 2019, for example, riders began their journey in Lake Como in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, which provided the perfect introduction to the country.

 

From there, they rode past upscale villas spotting the area, looming over the countryside, nearby cities and towns standing proud with Renaissance architecture.

 

Before the tough stuff began, however, there was the perfect chance to wind their legs into action as they circumnavigated the famous lake, all the while taking in the spectacular views that greeted them at every turn.


 

© Image source – A’qto Cycling

 

The cycling history lessons kicked off almost immediately as they cut into the Lombardian countryside towards Madonna del Ghisallo, a hill named after the patron saint of cyclists. To reach her church, they took on their first test of the tour as it’s located at the top of a steep climb.

 

Closeby, they also experienced the Muro di Sormano – which is known as one of the most gruelling climbs in global road cycling. It features a gradient of 17 percent, working up to a peak of 25. In fact, this is a climb deemed so challenging that is was dropped from the professional Tour of Lombardy for being too difficult -- this is where riders really get to test their mettle.

 

In 2019, riders got a real treat once they ascended Santa Caterina and then Mortirolo – with a stop at a local Rifugio, where they got to enjoy an Italian meal as the competitors of the Giro d’Italia streamed past in their pursuit of greatness.

 

With adrenaline pumping, it was time to cut east towards the Dolomites and its many stunning climbs. This path was supposed to take riders over the Passo delle Erbe – a true Italian hidden gem that connects the city of Brixen in the Eisacktal with San Martin de Tor in the Val Gardena.

 

Despite being a paved road and away from the well-beaten path of tourists, it was actually closed due to the very late snow storms that had hit the area in the late Spring. So instead the group took to the Valporola pass, an iconic climb in the Dolomites that allowed riders to really get to know their limits and boundaries – all among the backdrop of the iconic Dolomites.


 

© Image source – A’qto Cycling

 

On following days, riders made their way onto similar climbs featured in the Giro d’Italia including a stage start in Valdaora, where they were able to watch the professionals sign on (and stock up on Giro souvenirs).

 

The ride group followed the peloton through snaking roads, flanked by pine trees and headed towards Tre Cime di Lavaredo – an iconic battlement of three distinctive peaks in the Dolomites.

 

Enjoy stunning scenery as you navigate the winding roads

 

Cyclists really get to soak in the landscapes offered in the Dolomites range, passing through small villages and taking on climbs; including the Passo di Falzarego (a crowd-favourite). Soon after, they experience Passo Valparola in all its glory, before embarking on 15km of fun and rewarding descents.

 

To complete the tour, cyclists are immersed into a 62km ride on the Sella Ronda – the ski circuit of the Alps, which is also known as one of the best areas in Italy to cycle in. Featuring four distinct hill climbs and descents, this part of the ride experience is often described as a ‘rollercoaster’.

 

Rising to the top of wanderlust-filled bucket lists of avid riders, cycling holidays in Italy are fast becoming a hot pick. This is one of the best ways to experience the real Italy, with all of the sights, sounds and tastes coming into full-force as you test your fitness levels and experience on exhilarating rides also ridden by elite cyclists.

 



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