In a previous post, I have described the area around Andermatt, our second base camp for my Tour de Suisse 2019.
This post provides more details on the possible stages and alternatives I have in mind and which I will probably not ride.
Although not for lack of trying, but just because most of my trip ideas are insane, given that I would like to ride every day and I’m not a world tour pro rider…
(Plus, I will have a week’s worth of ass-whooping climbs in my legs by the time we settle in Sedrun)
Another factor is, that there are many climbs, most of them with at least two alternative routes to cycle them, and I have only so many days during either part of my Tour de Suisse.
So, each stage below is described including alternatives – if you’d rather not read all of that, just wait for my post stage reports later on 🙂
I will either descend by bike from Silvaplana to Chiavenna, or get there by car.
Once in Chiavenna, I will tackle the Splügenpass (2,114 m) from the south, 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 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 – 20 km, 600 m D+, 420 m D+ in the final 7 km) from the north.
In that case, this stage is the reverse of my prologue, although I will probably not descend all the way back to Lostallo.
The long version of this stage is just short of 110 kilometers, with nearly 2,800 meters of elevation difference.
The Big Five
And also similar to the Silvaplana area, I have a score of other passes to chose from.
Six of those have a summit well above 2,000 meters
Farthest out, is the Klausenpass (1,948 m) starting in Altdorf, some 40 kilometers north of Andermatt.
East of Andermatt and running past our apartment, is the Oberalppass (2,044 m).
Down the east end of that pass, starting in Disentis, you find the Lukmanierpass / Passo del Lucomagno (1,908 m).
But probably most famous are ‘the big five’.
From Hospental, there’s the Furka (2,429 m, although the sign reads 2,436 m), followed by the Grimsel (2,164 m).
Also starting there, is the northern ascend of the Gotthard (2,106 m, sign reading 2,091 m).
About 25 kilometers south of Andermatt, in Airolo, you’ll find the more famous southern ascend of that, over the Tremola, and the Nufenenpass (2,478 m).
And 10 kilometers north of Andermatt, starting in Wassen, you can climb the Sustenpass (2,224 m).
These five passes are also combined in two routes of the Alpenbrevet.
So, I have no less than eight passes in total – not counting the dead ends up the Göscheneralpsee (1,797 m) and Lai de Nalps (1,953 m) – but only 5 days to ride them, so I’m gonna have a hard time constructing stages to include all of them.
As mentioned above, like in Silvaplana, there’s a pass running by our doorstep in Sedrun: the Oberalppass.
Depending on how exhausted I am, I can either tackle that in a short or a long stage.
Heading for Andermatt, the climb will be just over 11 kilometers at an average of 5.8%, with steeper bits up to 9.2% and a final 5 km at 7.6%.
If I then turn around after the descend to Andermatt, the climb back up to the Oberalpsee will be around 9 kilometers at 6.4%.
This will be not much more than a 45 kilometer round trip, with 1,400 meters of D+, which is probably my best option.
However, stupid is as stupid does, so I may well extend this trip.
For instance, I could first get (down) to Disentis and tackle the Lukmanier.
I will then return from the summit of that and climb the Oberalp from Disentis.
Skipping the descend to and the climb from Andermatt and going back home from the summit of the Oberalp, makes this trip just over 80 kilometers long, with around 2,100 meters of D+.
If I have energy left, I may include the back and forth to Andermatt, but I will have other opportunities to cycle the west end of the Oberalp, including the part between Göschenen and Andermatt.
Or, I may extend this tour with the climb to the Lai da Nalps, which makes this a 100 kilometer trip, with 2,800 meters of elevation difference.
As it is the most obvious route bringing me new climbs, I’ll probably opt for the Alpenbrevet Silver tour, riding in the ‘prescribed’ direction.
Other than the Sustenpass, it will include the Grimsel and Furka, which I also have not yet done from the east (innertkirchen).
I might descend from Gletsch further down to Oberwald, to get the official / full length of the Furka in, as I did in 2015 with the Grimsel.
Doing that, extends the (original) Silver tour with some 14 kilometers and 450 extra meters of elevation difference, for a total of 134 kilometers and 4,350 meters of D+.
I was thinking on following the bottom half of the Gold tour.
This would mean the Furka first and then the Nufenenpass and Gotthard as prescribed.
With a total of almost 100 kilometers and over 3,100 meters of D+, that’s certainly not going to be easy.
However, this route will include two climbs I’ve already done, only the Nufenen from the west being new to me.
And as my plan for these last two stages leaves not only the Nufenen from the east, but also the Susten from the west, It may be better to ‘just’ do both ends of the Nufenen in one ride today.
As that by itself is 75 kilometers with almost 2,500 meters of D+, it wouldn’t be such a bad alternative either.
If I start in Andermatt, I will also have climbed the Gotthard from that end.
In that case, this stage would be close to 100 kilometers, with 3,150 meters of D+.
As stated above, I will (also) not have tackled the Sustenpass from the west, starting in Innertkirchen yet.
This is probably the most difficult climb to get in, the best alternative being to ride stage 7 in the opposite direction.
That is obviously the same in length (120 km *), but it has almost 4,000 meters of D+.
This is due to the first half of the Oberalp from Göschenen to Andermatt.
That section is 7 kilometers long, at an average of 7.4%, including steeper bits.
But, it also includes the ‘Schöllenen Gorge‘ with the famous Teufelsbrücke (Devil’s Bridge).
This stage also includes the Furka / Grimsel combo I have already cycled, but the only other alternative is to get to Innertkirchen by car…
* Unless I cycle back home and add the Oberalp – ‘Go nuts C.!’.
If I do, because I have not cycled that yet, this will extend the stage to 143 kilometers, with over 4,600 meters of D+. The final from Andermatt is 10.5 kilometers long, with 600 meters of elevation difference.
So, if I have completed my stages more or less to plan, I will only have the Klausenpass left to climb.
I know I failed to include the Göscheneralpsee and I didn’t climb the other – south – end of the Lukmanier, but I would prioritize cycling the Klausen.
However, as we are also heading home today – with a stopover for the night, just past the Swiss-German border – I do not have a lot of time, as we will also have to pack.
This means that climbing both ends, a 103 kilometer trip, with 3,100 meters of D+, is probably out of the question.
The shorter version, which includes the best part from Urnerboden on the eastern ascend, would be a max 78 kilometer stage, with 2,350 meters of elevation difference.
That seems like a fitting end to my Tour de Suisse 2019.
I penciled in a rest day in the first week, but have not done so for the second part of the tour.
If I have to, I will also have a hard time deciding which stage, which climb(s) to cancel…
Note: elevation, or D+, for the plotted courses is calculated by Strava – it usually does a shitty job at that, the actual D+ being lower in most cases. Still, I need some ballpark figures, right?