Share the experience as TORQ fuelled Mike Cotty and the Col Team set their sights on one of Italy’s finest cols, the Colle delle Finestre.
Lo Sterrato, “the dirt.” Amongst many other things, the Italians are globally renowned for their style, and few places do “dirt” better than the Cottian Alps. Gravel is fast becoming the new playground for the road cyclists wh are looking for something new to explore. Whilst this climb starts in a rather unassuming way from Val di Susa, it’s the latter part that really sets it apart from the rest. Welcome to the Colle delle Finestre!
The prospect of the pro peloton battling it out on the dusty white trail all the way to the 2,178m high summit of the Finestre was clearly a tempting one for the organisers of the 2005 Giro d’Italia. Normally when a new climb is found, the road is repaved like marble, giving the riders every chance of making it to the top in good shape. However, if that was the case here, then it’s likely that the shine of the Finestre that glows ever brighter today, would’ve been no more than a fading flicker. Wanting to save something extra special for the fans, the final 8km remained “off-road.” The stage was set and, although fireworks were predicted, I don’t think anyone could’ve envisaged just how great a show the Finestre would provide, as Paolo Savoldelli literally clung to the Maglia Rosa like his life depended on it.
18.7km at over 9% gradient is challenging enough. Throw in the rough stuff and it’s party time!
Tackling this climb from the Roman city of Susa, the unforgiving gradient hits you immediately as you start to weave your way through a dense forest filled with oak, acacia and ash. It’s here that the hairpins come in quick succession, no kidding, 28 bends in just 3km is a new Col Collective record! On occasion the trees part and you’re gifted with a glimpse of beauty at the surrounding mountain peaks. It’s as if the road is keeping you in suspense and making you work hard for your reward.
After 10.9km, the paving ends abruptly and you know it’s showtime! Take a deep breath, this is what we’ve all come for. You’ll be well advised to try and ride this climb shortly after the Giro has visited, when the dirt is in its best condition. Leave it a couple of seasons and it’s a very different beast and one that’s unforgiving on body and bike. Relax. To get the most out of the Finestre, it’s as much about finesse as it is brute force.
We’d recommend a minimum of 25c tyres, run a touch lower than you normally would on the road for extra comfort and traction. Keep yourself well planted in the saddle, relax your upper body and let the bike pick your line. Try not to fight it, wrestling with your bike uses way more energy than going with the flow.
You know, we’re often asked what our favourite climb is in the whole wide world, and while that’s like asking a parent to pick their favourite child, let’s just say the Finestre is, and always will be, one of the very best in the business!
What Goes Up….. It’s fair to say that this is a climb that just keeps on giving. The views on the way down towards Val Chisone in the direction of Sestriere are, well, beyond words so we thought we’d share the descent too. What a rollercoaster ride, we hope you enjoy!
And finally, a very special THANK YOU to everyone for helping us top 2 MILLION views on YouTube this month! Without your eyes on the screen and the continued support from our partners we couldn’t take you to these incredible regions and mountains!
Ride safe, dream big and see you all again soon.