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A 720-kilometre journey over the high Alps between Bergamo and Munich.
Day 1: Lago Iseo (ITA)
52 km / 1.109 hm
Notes from the day: On the first day, we let go of the built-up city, finding rhythm along the shores of Lake Iseo. It's not long before the climbing begins, which turns out to be a massive wake-up call. You train all winter in the flats, get good legs and feel great. Then suddenly the climbs kick in, and you feel unprepared.
Before us lay six days of high alpine passes, now more daunting than ever.
Day 2: Sale Marasino - Prestine (ITA)
118 km / 3.763 hm
Notes from the day: High spirits, everyone is stoked to get going. For the majority of us, this is as much climbing as we have ever done in a single day. It goes without saying that the climbs of the Italian Alps are on another level than the flats of southern Scandinavia where I usually ride. It was a brutal but beautiful day. The pasta and the local red wine that we had post ride might be one of the best tasting meals I've ever had.
Day 3: Prestine - Sernio (ITA)
118 km / 2.861 hm
Notes from the day: Passo del Vivone - narrow roads, twisting up that unknown mountain. Cycling often hits you with the unexpected, and this climb punches hard from the get-go. The landscape was beyond amazing. While the scenery was perhaps noted in the surpassed expectations column, a crash on the descent was certainly not. We lost a ride companion, but we gained a world-class soigneur. Sometimes that's just the way it goes.
Day 4: Sernio - Laas (ITA)
93 km / 2.360 hm / 5:32 h
Notes from the day: This was supposed to be the Queen stage of our journey. Three major peaks, Mortirolo, Gavia and Stelvio, in one day. But as we all know you can not control the weather. Due to thunderstorms we ended up only riding the Stelvio. In hindsight, this was a blessing in disguise. It's fair to say that we enjoyed every switchback of this epic climb. If we had gone for all three, I'm pretty sure we'd been crying all the way up to the top of the Stelvio. Mercifully, I will remember it as the best climb I've ever ridden.
Day 5: Laas - Wald (ITA,CZE,AUT)
121 km / 2.709 hm
Notes from the day: By now the meters climbed had started to take a toll on all of us. It wasn't that easy to get going on the big mountains. And to be completely honest this wasn't that good of a day. Flats, surgery, and fuelling gone wrong made it an extremely testing day on the bike. But with three countries in one day and a landscape as picturesque as this one, it's more or less impossible not to be stoked. We might have had some lows, but this day ended on a high note with a family-style dinner in the Austrian Alps, talking life over mashed potato, chicken, and beers.
Day 6: Wald - Innsbruck (AUT)
74 km / 1.987 hm
Notes from the day: A somewhat short day. After this one there would be no more big climbs. Some of us (read yours truly) were longing to finish the major peaks. The beauty of the Austrian mountains caught me by surprise. I knew it was going to be unique but this day offered some of the most captivating roads I've ever had the pleasure to ride a bike on. Wiener Schnitzel, beers, and sunshine - Innsbruck you were kind to us.
Day 7: Innsbruck - Munich (AUT,GER)
146 km / 1.261 hm
Notes from the day: Just 140k left to go. Somehow aching knees and heavy legs seemed to fade away the closer we got to our final destination. We picked up the pace and for the latter part of the day did race pace efforts just for the thrill of it. Basically, this day was all smiles and full gas all the way to Munich Hauptbahnhof. It was the perfect ending on a trip that I will never forget.