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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Grimsel Pass


The Grimsel pass (2,165 m, summit sign 2,164 m) connects the cantons of Valais to the south and Bern to the north; it crosses the continental divide between the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea.

It ‘meets’ the Furka pass at Gletsch and is part of the most famous routes – or round trips – of the Alps. It can be combined with the Furka and Susten passes (north loop), or the Nufenen, Gotthard and Furka passes (south loop). More info on the various loops on the pages of the Alpenbrevet.

I cycled the Grimsel from Oberwald as part of the ‘Swiss Stage’ at the end of my Giro d’Italia 2015 – report here, pictures here (Google+).

Oberwald / Gletsch

Grimsel Oberwald profileI deliberately descended to Oberwald to be able to take on the ‘full’ length of the Grimsel. It has the first 6+ kilometers – until Gletsch – in common with the Furka pass. If you come down from the Furka, the ‘natural’ route would be to turn (right) in Gletsch.

From Oberwald, the Furka is 12.1 kilometers long, with an altitude gain of 797 meters, or an average of 6.6% – the second half, from Gletsch is slightly more difficult at 6.8%, but the views are such, that you’ll hardly feel it 🙂

Leaving Oberwald, you’ll ‘pull’ yourself out of the bottom of the valley through a tree covered area over a distance of about 4 kilometers (average around 7%). Once you pass a short tunnel, the view opens up and you’ll see the Grimsel switching left to right in front and above you.

Some 1.5 kilometers further, you might be lucky enough to see the train go through the spiral tunnel, before you take on the final stretch to Gletsch. By the time you’ve reached Gletsch, you have climbed 389 meters, averaging 6.3% over the 6.2 kilometers – the extra distance from Oberwald to Gletsch is certainly not a freebie.

Once you leave Gletsch, the part with the most jaw dropping views awaits you. From switchback to switchback, you’ll see more of the Grimsel and the valley towards Oberwald, but the Furka climbing up the slopes on the opposite side is also a spectacle to watch. The combined view of two major passes winding up a high mountain, is something I have not experienced anywhere else so far…

View on the Grimsel and Furka pass - Gletch in the middle

At the summit, there is a restaurant – aptly called ‘Grimselblick’ – and a real tourist attraction, the Crystal cavern and Marmot park. I didn’t bother to go in there, but the summit was crowded with Chinese tourists when I got there – must really be some attraction then…

Meiringen / Innertkirchen

Grimsel Innertkirchen profileThe ascend of the Grimsel Pass from the north (officially) starts in Meiringen (595 m), but up to Innertkirchen, the elevation is negligible (30 m).

In Innertkirchen, the road to the Susten Pass goes to the left, but the Grimsel continues towards Guttannen, located at 1,057 meters.

Entering Guttannen, you’ll have gained 432 meters, over a distance of 8.4 kilometers or an average of 5.1%. Other than the painfully steep, but very short section at 12%, this is a good warm up 🙂

The total length of the climb from Innertkirchen is 26 kilometers, with an elevation gain of 1,540 meters (5.9%). As usual, this average doesn’t mean a lot: the final 10 kilometers the average rises to 6.9%, but that’s only because of the near flat section(s) – the rest of it throws between 8 and 10% at you…

Beyond Guttannen, the road passes a pair of short tunnels to Handegg (1,378 m) – if you’re interested, this is where the lower station of the Gelmerbahn funicular, the steepest in Switzerland, is located.

Past Handegg, you’ll go through a series of hairpins and a long tunnel (850 m long, which at 8, 9% will take you a while to pass, but it’s well lit) to the Räterichsbodensee reservoir. Less than 2 km further on, you’ll reach the Grimselsee reservoir and the Grimsel Hospice (altitude 1,980 m).

When I came down from the summit, I was so stunned by the view from a little higher up, I stopped the descend and just wanted to sit down and stay there. So, as you’ll be climbing through the final hairpins, you’ll have chance to enjoy that while actually moving 🙂

As mentioned above, there is, among other things, a restaurant at the summit.

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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