Freedom is zipping down asphalt roads at 40 km/h, snow-covered mountains in the background, enjoying the speed and the sweet smell of fresh hay. Small wonder that road biking is so popular. In South Tyrol there are two compulsory routes for racing cyclists: the Timmelsjoch and Gampen passes.
For racing bike fans, the Timmelsjoch pass is cult
Among road cyclists, the Timmelsjoch pass is rightfully considered to be one of the most demanding passes in the Alpine region. Those lacking the proper fitness are in for aches and sore muscles.
The Timmelsjoch pass connects St. Leonhard/San Leonardo in South Tyrol with Sölden in Austria. This racing bike tour winds through the Passeiertal valley for a full 29 km and 1,821 metres in altitude. The road ascends steeply through tunnels and hairpin bends up to the 2,509-m pass before descending rapidly downhill to Sölden.
But be brave, the glacier views and the mighty three thousand metre peaks of the Ötztal Alps are ample reward for the exertion. This is the route that every road cyclist should have completed at least once. After all, this challenging tour has achieved cult status. Worth mentioning: Shortly after the season opens at the end of May, the snow walls on the Timmelsjoch pass are sometimes still an impressive five metres high!
The classic: On the Gampen Pass by racing bike
This racing bike route is a bit kinder to cyclists. The gradient is relatively moderate and isn’t nearly as tiring on the legs as the Timmelsjoch pass. Unsurprisingly, the Gampen pass is one of the most popular roads for road cyclists.
The Gampen pass connects the Etschtal valley with the Val di Non valley at Fondo. The 1.5 km stretch from Lana to the Gampen pass at 1,513 m feels almost comfortable. With the exception of two hairpin turns, the route runs through several small tunnels and always straight up the mountain. This tour nevertheless provides ample opportunity to gain well-earned metres of elevation: 1,202 of them to be precise. Cyclists should therefore be in pretty good shape for this tour as well.
Plan enough time so that you can enjoy the tranquillity and breathtaking views over the entire Etschtal valley along the way. The descent from the Gampen pass is via Nals/Nalles. Those with a bit more left in the tank can opt for the extension to the Mendel pass.