Today was a short ride by European standards (Only 64km) and only 1700m of climbing! We headed out from Briancon and up over the col du Montgenevre, one of the many routes into Italy. The climb is short at only 7km with an average gradient of around 6.5%. There were some tired legs in the group after yesterdays epis so we kept the pace nice and steady until the Italian border. From here it was a stunning descent down into Cesana, an absolutely stunning little Italian village, where the climb to the ski resort of Sestriere starts
Sestriere is a beautiful climb challenging but not too difficult and brings you to an altitude of just over 2000m. Here we had some of the best food yet on tour (no coincidence that it was our first in Italy). After luxuriating for around 90 minutes we finally set off for the descent back down to Cesana which by this time had swung fully into gear. The final climb back up to Montgenevre is beautiful and switcbacks its way up the side of a gorge, through beautiful old tunnels.
One final descent brought us back to Briancon with much of the day still ahead. A sensational dinner at the extraordinary restaurant Lou Grand Caire, in the ancient town of Vauban, capped off a stunning day.
Brian Bubba Cooke
Exercise Physiologist, coach & cycling tragic for 30 years. Love the freedom, reward and sense of achievement that one can only experience in our amazing sport.