Tour de Suisse 2019 Sketches – Part 2

Tour de Suisse Logo

Now that our short trip to sunny Egypt has ended and May is coming to a close, the start of my Tour de Suisse 2019 is only two months away.

Although I’m back to a regular – much less intense destructive than in 2018 – training routine, I’m still a long way from anything near my ‘normal’ form.

On average, my power numbers are 30 Watts lower than they used to be before my injuries forced me to take a 3-month break.

With the help of Pav from Direct Power Coaching, or Spokes Fit as they are now rebranded, I successfully rebooted, following two training plans.

During that reboot, I reconnected with Xert and I’m now using their ‘adaptive training advisor’ to get me further back on track. I’ll try and write a post on Xert in the near future.

Anyway, the apartments for the Tour de Suisse have been booked, Chesa Bellaval in Silvaplana and Casa Nacla in Sedrun/Surrein.

Both apartments are chosen based on their strategic location, while still staying within a more or less ‘sane’ budget for the tour.

From either place, a score of cols is available for me to break my legs on…

In this post, I’m covering part 2, the week in Sedrun.

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Cols of the Swiss Stage

Tour de Suisse logo smallIn June last year, at the end of my Giro d’Italia 2015, I rode an entirely ‘Swiss Stage’ including the Gotthard (Tremola road), the Furka and the Grimsel.

You can read a report on that stage here – it offered some of the most stunning views I have encountered so far and I am determined to get back there for more, during a longer stay.

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Gotthard Pass


The St. Gotthard Pass (Italian: Passo del San Gottardo) connects south and north Switzerland. Other than traversing the Gotthard tunnel, you can travel the new Tremola if you want to enjoy some of the views from within your car or on your motorcycle, while not losing too much time.

However, that also has some (long) tunneled sections and the far more interesting – and better cycle-able – road is the old Tremola between Airolo in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, and Hospental in the German-speaking canton of Uri.

With a summit at 2,106 meters*, the Gotthard Pass doesn’t earn a high ranking in the European list of ‘highest passes’, but the old Via Tremola is a more than fair compensation.

The Tremola road is Switzerland’s longest memorial road construction. It snakes up the slopes of the Val Tremola as a light-coloured ribbon from Airolo and offers impressive views.

In the most spectacular section, the road climbs up 300 meters over a 4 kilometer stretch, incorporating no less than 24 hairpins, each with its own name. The Tremola road today still largely retains the appearance of the reconstruction completed in 1951.

I cycled the Gotthard’s Tremola road as part of the ‘Swiss Stage’ at the end of my Giro d’Italia 2015 – report here, pictures here (Google+).

* Paula took a picture at the only ‘official’ sign I could find at the summit that featured altitude – it read 2,091 meters, like on the profile pictures below. I think the road past/around the Lago della Piazza rises a couple of meters more, before the descend starts, so the highest point might be on the other side of the lake and not near the Guex memorial…

Airolo

Gotthard from Airolo via TremolaFrom Airolo, you have the choice of taking the old or the new Tremola road – while the latter can be cycled, it’s also the ‘fast lane’, meaning lots of traffic, passing at high speed. Plus, there are a couple of tunneled sections, one of them quite long, that will not be enjoyable.

Your best option is the old Tremola road, if only for the spectacular cobblestone section(s) and the breathtaking views along that road. This climb is 12.7 kilometers long, with an elevation gain of 932 meters (7.3%).

After the relatively easy start, you’ll only have a short moment to catch your breath when passing the Motto Bartola intersection, with the entrance/exit to the new/main road.

The steepest stretch is in the middle of the main hairpin section, but here you’ll enjoy an ever more spectacular view, so it won’t hurt that much. Or, you might even get off your bike to take in those views and shoot a picture or two 🙂

Once at the summit, you can pay a visit to the Gotthard museum there, or have a break at the ‘ospizio’. You may also take a short ‘side trip’ back over the new Tremola road, where you will have a fantastic view on the old road, just before the entrance to the gallery/tunnel, as seen in the picture below.

The Col Collective have produced a video with a loop over the Furka, Nufenen and then the Gotthard – you can view that here.

Gotthard view on old Tremola road

Hospental

Gotthard from HospentalThe ascend from the north officially starts in Hospental, but you may start out of Andermatt, or even further (and lower) from Amsteg.

From Hospental, the climb is 8.6 kilomters long, with 610 meters of elevation (7.1%).

This side offers nothing special – besides the grandeur of the landscape – and follows the main road. It’s only at some three kilometers from the summit that cyclists can leave the main road and take the old cobblestone road.

It’s worth avoiding this ascend during the weekends in the summer/holiday season, as traffic can be pretty bad and the road is used as an alternative to the weekly traffic jams before the Gotthard tunnel.

Giro d’Italia 2015 – The Swiss Stage

Tour de Suisse logoEarlier this year, when we decided that a “Tour de Suisse” was not going to happen, I did plan on climbing some of the great passes there on our way home.

As it was going to be a one day event, I had to limit the amount of climbs.

The most obvious road to take was the one up and over the Gotthard, Furka and Grimsel – my own short version of the Alpenbrevet

The weather looked fine for the Friday, but we needed to transfer to Airolo first, a 3.5 hour trip.

We got up shortly after 5 am and took off around 7 – as usual, the trip took “a little” longer, mainly because of traffic.

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