Tour de Suisse 2019 Sketches – Part 2

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(Below is was what I originally had in mind – the reports tell a somewhat different story, althoug in the end, I managed the “must do’s” I had in mind, just not the way I “planned” it 😎 There’s a lot of intersting intel in this post, though.)

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 some help from online sources, 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.

Intermediate / transfer

TDS 2019 - Intermediate SplügenI will continue my Tour de Suisse by either getting on the bike in Silvaplana and cycle, or drive by car to Chiavenna.

From there, I will tackle the Splügenpass (2,114 m) from the south.

The Splügenpass is a lot longer from Chiavenna than it is from Splügen: 30.2 kilometers at a 5.9% average.

Taking the flat bits out of the equation, that average goes up to 7.3% and more than 10 kilometers average between 8.5% and 9.5%…

In case I do get to Chiavenna by car and the Splügen has not left me bleeding through my eyes – which it probably will – I may consider getting up the San Bernadino (2,066 m) from the north, making this stage the reverse of my prologue, although I would probably not descend all the way back to Lostallo.

But while the San Bernardino from Splügen is not much of a challenge by itself – apart from the final 7 kilometers or so, starting from Hinterrhein – considering I already climbed the Splügen before it, I may well decide to admire the landscape from within the car…

Sedrun landscape, municipality of Tujetsch, Grisons, on the road to the Oberalppass.


Climbs around Andermatt
Climbs around Andermatt – map data from Cycling Challenge

After the intermediate stage, we will settle down in Sedrun, which is between Andermatt and Disentis, halfway up the Oberalppass from the east.

Also here, as base camp for the second part of the Tour de Suisse, we have booked an apartment.

Sedrun is one of the eleven fractions that are part of Tujetsch and that are all located on either side of the banks of the Vorderrhein river.

Also, it is close to Andermatt, which is basically the Swiss equivalent of Corvara or Cortina d’Ampezzo I guess.

From there, you can climb the Furka and Gotthard, although the latter is not nearly as beautiful from that end as it is from Airolo.

Airolo, south of Andermatt, is also the start of the Nufenenpass, which connects to the Furka / Grimsel from the south-west in Ulrichen, the combination with the Furka enabling a great round trip.

North of Andermatt, the climb up the Sustenpass starts in Wassen – also going that direction, you can create a nice round trip with both the Grimsel and Furka.

Stages – passes in the area

While looking at the main map, things seem to be pretty close to one-another, but also for this part of the Tour de Suisse 2019, I will need to get into the shape of a 28-year old UCI pro cyclist to be able to complete daily stages as tough as the Alpenbrevet.

Sadly, although it’s probably sold out already anyway, this event takes place on August 24, at which time we will already be back home again…

TDS 2019 - Alpenbrevet
Alpenbrevet Silver and Gold tours

Most interesting are the Silver and Gold tours, which both start and end in Andermatt, so they can be ridden clock- or counterclockwise.

The official tours are counterclockwise, so starting with the Sustenpass from Wassen.

The shorter Silver tour continues with the Grimsel from Innertkirchen and then the Furka, after which the descend to Andermatt is a cooling down.

This trip is 120 kilometers, with 3,675 meters of elevation difference.

Going that clockwise direction, this tour includes about half of the stage I rode during my Giro d’Italia in 2015.

The Gold tour also climbs the Grimsel, but then descends to Ulrichen and goes on over the Nufenenpass.

After descending that towards Airolo, it’s concluded with the climb up the Old Tremola road of the Gotthard, which I combined with the Furka and Grimsel in 2015.

With 160 kilometers and 5,100 meters of elevation difference, this is about as much I can handle and I doubt I will do that in the reverse direction in its entirety…

The Sustenpass (2,224 m) is new to me. The Alpenbrevet takes the approach from Wassen, from where it is almost 18 kilometers long, with 1,300 meters of elevation difference.

I know from experience that at an average of 7.4%, this is going to be a tough nut to crack and looking at the profile doesn’t make me feel any better, because most of it is over 8%…

From the other end, starting in Innertkirchen, the climb is 28 kilometers long, with 1,600 meters of elevation difference.

The moderate average of ‘only’ 5.7% doesn’t mean jack shit – as usual – because about 10 kilometers are indeed easy/easier, but the other 18 are also averaging at least 7%.

The ‘Gold Tour’ of the Alpenbrevet includes climbing the Nufenenpass (2,478 m), which is also new to me.

This is the 2nd highest pass of Switzerland, its summit only 25 meters lower than the Umbrail.

From Ulrichen it’s just over 14 kilometers and with 1,130 meters of elevation difference (8%), also this climb is close to the limit of what I can handle.

Apart from the two easy bits, making the rest well over 8% average, there is a 5 kilometer stretch that averages 10%…

Other than the cols from the Alpenbrevet, there are several other interesting climbs in the area to include in this week of the Tour de Suisse.

Our apartment in Sedrun is located on the road up the Oberalppass (2,044 m) from the east.

While this climb ‘officially’ starts in Ilanz, the 29 kilometers from there to Disentis do not offer a lot of elevation gain. Apart from 2 or 3 noteworthy sections, the grades are between 0% and 2%, for a total of 440 altimeters.

From Disentis there are still 21 kilometers left to climb, with a total of 900 meters of elevation – the most interesting section is in the final 8 kilometers, starting in Dieni, near our apartment.

That section averages 6.4% with a steeper section up to 9.2%.

The other end from Andermatt, is officially starting in Amsteg, north of Andermatt. From there, it’s 32 kilometers, with a total of around 1,600 meters of elevation difference.

Between Göschenen and Andermatt lies the toughest part, 7 kilometers at 7.4%, with a 9.5% stretch.

It’s in this part of the route that you will pass through the ‘Schöllenen Gorge‘ with the famous Teufelsbrücke (Devil’s Bridge).

Old and new Teufelsbruecke / Devil's Bridge
Old and new Devil’s Bridge – photo by Roland Zumbuehl

The final from Andermatt is 10.5 kilometers long, with 600 meters of elevation difference.

Also starting at our doorstep in Sedrun, is the climb up to the barrier lake Lai da Nalps (1,953 m) – this climb is not described on either of my English resource pages, but with almost 600 meters of elevation over 8 kilometers, it looks ‘interesting’.

From Disentis, you can also get up the Lukmanierpass / Passo del Lucomagno (1,914 m) to another barrier lake, Lai da Sontga Maria.

With 20 kilometers at an average of 3.8% it may not look like much of a challenge, but at least 7 of those are (more than) 6%, maxing out at 9.5%.

The climb from the south officially starts in Biasca, a whopping 40.7 kilometers at 3.9%. However, I don’t think I will go any further down than Olivone, from where it is still 19 kilometers at 5.9%, with a few steep(er) sections.

North of Andermatt, starting in Göschenen, there is the climb up to the Göscheneralpsee (1,797 m), which is a dead end. With 10 kilometers and 700 meters of elevation difference, featuring 6.5 kilometers at 9%, this is also not to be underestimated.

And finally, more to the north, starting in Altdorf, there is the Klausenpass (1,948 m), another perfect example of ‘don’t be fooled by the average’.

TDS 2019 - Klausenpass E and WFrom Altforf, this climb is 24 kilometers long, with 1,500 meters of elevation difference, mathematically a 6.1% average. However, more than half of it is close to, or over 8%, the upper half not offering a lot of respite.

Starting in Linthal, the climb is 22 kilometers long and with 5.8% average (1,290 meters of elevation difference), it seems mildly easier than from Altdorf.

But taking the 6 basically flat kilometers in the middle out of the equation, the average rises to around 7.5%…

As this is the pass that is farthest out, climbing the Klausenpass could typically be a stage to include both ends in one go. Starting in Altdorf, that is already well over 100 kilometers, with some 3,000 meters of elevation difference.

So, if you have read part 1 of this Tour de Suisse Sketches, you can understand how I’m going to have more than a handful of stages / trouble during either week of the tour 🙂

I’ll come up with a draft road book in the near future – stay tuned!

Tour de Suisse main page here.

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