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The roads of champions — four passes in Italy’s Cuneo province

Tommaso Schenetti

The roads of champions — four passes in Italy’s Cuneo province

Road Cycling Collection by Michele Pelacci



3-5 h

/ day

111 mi

14,200 ft

14,175 ft

There are some climbs that have become famous because of the Giro d'Italia: the Passo Pordoi, for example, which has been part of the race more than 40 times since 1940. Others cannot boast such a number but legendary achievements instead: Charly Gaul on Monte Bondone in 1956 or Chris Froome on Colle delle Finestre in 2018. For others still, including this Collection's Cima Coppi, Colle Fauniera, it's not entirely clear what exactly made them so famous and infamous. The Colle Fauniera was part of the Giro d'Italia only once, in 1999, and the last stretch of the massive climb was not even broadcast. It was also scheduled for the 2001 Giro, but the stage was cancelled. In 2003, the Giro went over the nearby Colle Esischie instead.

At the top of the Fauniera is a statue of the iconic Marco Pantani, who didn’t actually win this stage of the Giro. At the finish in Borgo San Dalmazzo, Paolo Savoldelli was able to celebrate his victory instead. Pantani was not even the first to win the Gran Premio della Montagna. That honour went to Gabriele Missaglia. Although the Fauniera is a difficult climb, it’s most famous for the descent that Savoldelli rode there. He gained a big lead and won the stage. That's how his downhill performances became legendary.

And there’s something else that makes Fauniera, and thus this Collection, special. Great champions have ridden on these roads – recently, a stage of the Giro d'Italia U23 even ended here. But the secret of the Fauniera, like the other three passes over which this route passes (Santuario di Valmala, Piatta Soprana and Madonna del Colletto), lies elsewhere: in the breathtaking views, in the people who live in the small villages along the climbs, and in the history that envelops these places.

The route is similar to that of the popular amateur competition Granfondo Fausto Coppi. The start/finish is in the most famous and beautiful square in the province of Cuneo: Piazza Galimberti, in the centre of Cuneo. Built at the confluence of the Stura and Gesso rivers, the town is easy to reach. It has a small airport that connects it with numerous Italian cities (aeroporto.cuneo.it/destinazioni) and a railway station (rfi.it/it/stazioni/cuneo.html). The A33 and A6 motorways provide good access to the rest of Piedmont.

This route is on asphalt roads and because of the large differences in altitude, I recommend using a road bike that’s as light as possible. Over two days, you have enough time to enjoy the region but if you are looking for a challenge, you can also try to complete the route in one day. After all, these are the roads of champions.

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Sulle strade dei campioni – quattro durissime salite cuneesi

110 mi

14,050 ft

14,050 ft

Last updated: October 13, 2022

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Cuneo to Monterosso Grana — on the roads of champions

    56.0 mi
    10.3 mph
    6,275 ft
    5,675 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Once in Cuneo, take all the time in the world for a first look at piazza Galimberti and via Roma, where a sprint of the last Giro d'Italia has arrived, in which Arnaud Demare mocked the fugitives on the most beautiful. Then leave Cuneo towards Cerialdo and Madonna dell’Olmo, to start a flat drittone

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    by Michele Pelacci

  • Difficult
    55.1 mi
    9.7 mph
    7,925 ft
    8,500 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Those arriving by bicycle in Valgrana for the first time cannot fail to aspire to Colle Fauniera. A tremendous and wonderful climb, the Fauniera is almost 26 kilometers from Monterosso Grana, but the real climb probably begins towards the hamlet of Campomolino. From then on it is about 16 km at an average

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    by Michele Pelacci

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    111 mi
  • Duration
    11:05 h
  • Elevation
    14,200 ft14,175 ft

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