Grazie Mille Piemonte

What a region; so diverse and beautiful, home to Italy’s slow food movement, full of amazing wines and an absolute dream to ride through.

Le Langhe was the area we first explored on our recent cycling tour of Piemonte; quiet back roads and challenging short climbs took us up, down and around manicured vineyards laden with Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto vines, through the small hilltop towns of Barolo, Barbaresco and La Morra, and also into the UNESCO region’s rugged forests and hazelnut groves.

Every day of our tour was different and every day pushed us a little further and a little higher than the day before, with a consistent theme however of stunning vistas and beauty, in every direction we turned.

After 4 days in the Barolo hills, we transferred across to Cuneo, the start town of La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo, and as we settled in and soaked up the atmosphere of one of Italy’s best Gran Fondo’s, the intensity and excitement grew.

Colle Fauniera and the Gran Fondo is a beautifully hard challenge. All the riders assemble in the main piazza and wait for the start, and within the first 500m of the ride, you need to make a decision of whether to turn left for the medio fondo or right for the gran fondo. It’s an important decision and in our experience, at 111km and 2500m, the medio fondo is more than enough.

The first 20 odd km is about navigating your way out of town to the base of the climb and to make sure you don’t get too caught up in the ‘race’ to the bottom of the climb. This is where it gets interesting. With a 7km section averaging 9.7%, the field completely splits and gives you a little space to weave your way in and around other riders. Just before the first rest stop, the landscape starts to open up, with distinct mountains, ravines and passes, and you start to get a feel for just how spectacular the scenery is. After the rest stop, the gradient drops to an average of 7.5% and with each twist and turn, the landscape becomes more open and rugged, and even more beautiful.

The descent off the top is equal to the climb. It’s on the same tiny roads and is an absolute adrenaline filled roller coaster down. However, the fun isn’t over yet. There is one more 8km climb and after the previous 26km monster, it takes every ounce of strength and focus to keep pushing. At the final rest stop, a few of us regrouped, took on some fuel and got ready for the final 27km.

As we descended off the last mountain and knew that all that was left was the slightly downhill final 20km, it was an absolute blast motoring into town on the closed roads and finishing together in the grand piazza.

We waited by the barricades to cheer on everyone else in our group as they arrived into the piazza, and together celebrated an amazing day on the bike and in the mountains, with a super cold local beer, which tipped the whole experience into yet another perfect day.

Without a doubt, La Fausto Coppi is one of Italy’s best Gran Fondo’s and we’re already excited about next year’s edition.

The colours of Piemonte in early Summer are a beautiful surprise with brightly coloured buildings in the little hilltop towns, lush green rolling hills with vineyards and patches of forest, and the local seasonal produce of luminous cherries, bright zucchini flowers and the soft pastels of apricots and other stone fruits, making for a wonderful sense of wellbeing.

n each Italian region, the food is different and always good, but the food of Piemonte is something else.

Tajarin, Ravioli del plin, Vitello tonnato and carne cruda were a few of the highlights, but each day the experience changed from rustic osteria and flavours of the past to modern trattoria, with a fresh twist on local produce.

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In the home of the slow food movement and with a land so agriculturally rich, it’s no surprise that food and wine are the essence of a trip to Piemonte. Our non-riding partner program in Piemonte immerses into this rich tapestry of food, producers, cooks and tastes, and explores the many great Piemontese products including truffles, hazelnuts, honey and cheeses just to name a few, with a range of educational and experiential activities that leave you truly immersed in the region.

The final highlight of this year’s Piemonte tour was experiencing stages 3 and 4 of the Tour de France as it weaved its way through and then departed Italy for its homeland. We rolled closer towards Turin for our final 2 night stay and to be closer to the action each day, and with each stage, we saw the caravan roll through and were able to be up close with the race; firstly with seeing Pogacar in yellow and then the following day on the Sestriere climb, before he launched his blistering attack on the descent.

This was another amazing tour with a fantastic group of riders and non-riders who immersed in the challenges, rewards and pure enjoyment of a cycling holiday in Piemonte. Grazie a tutti!

If you are interested in joining our Tour of Piemonte and La Fausto Coppi Gran Fondo, click here for more details.

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