Cycling Blog

2016 - Maratona dles Dolomites Day4


So off to breakfast, which was well organized by the hotel. The weather had dried up, so no more rain. Temperatures were ideal for cycling.

I was going to meet up with Guido, Danny and Marc in the center of town around 5:45. Riding towards La Villa (Start) more and more other riders joined. At La Villa, we quickly went into the last starting box, as we were first timers we had to start in the last group.

Standing there waiting for the start is an experience on its own. Helicopters flying low over our head (The Maratona is broadcasted live on Italian TV), thousands of nervous riders waiting for the go.

6:56 we cross the starting line riding back to Corvara, where the first climb of the day awaits. The Campolongo, which we will ride 2 times today.

The Campolongo is not a hard climb and a good warming up for the rest of the ride. As we started in the last group, a lot of riders are in front of us riding up the mountain. It's a bit busy and sometimes difficult to maintain you own pace. During the climb, Danny and Marc are getting ahead of me, whilst Guido is getting more behind. We agreed that we would all ride our own race. At the top of the Campolongo, I quickly put on my wind vest and speeded down into the descent. Half way through the descent I overtook Marc and Danny and started first on the next climb, the Passo Pordoi. Not shortly after I started climbing, Marc and Danny passed again and were taking the lead. The Pordoi is the nicest Climb of the Maratona, at least I think so.

Again, at the top, I put on my wind vest and went full gas into the descent. In the descents, I could make up quite some time, but you still have to be careful, I've seen quite some ambulances on the track! I never saw Marc and Danny in the descent.

After the Passo Pordoi, came Passo Sella and Passo Gardena. Passo Sella, was the hardest climb of the Sella ronda. It just does not roll. You never find a good rhythm in that climb. But still it's a lot easier than Passo Giau, which will come up later!

Riding down the Passo Gardena, I arrived in Corvara again were Vincent was waiting for me with supplies. As I still had enough bars and gels and still a full Bidon, I passed him and told him that I was good. Of to the second ascent of the Passo Campolongo, this time a lot smoother as all the riders were spread out over the parkours. On top of the Campolongo I did refill both of my bidons, as I knew that the next stop was on top of the Passo Giau. The killer of that day.

On the way to the Giau we passed 2 little no name climbs, on which I reached a top speed of 90,7km/h in the descent.

Then there it was, Passo Giau. Imminently it hits you in the legs. It is the hardest climb of the day, and the hard part starts right at the bottom of the ascent.

It’s just 10km of agony! At some time into the climb you see riders refilling there bidons in the streams coming from the mountain. I was glad I did a full refill on the Campolongo.

After 10 km’s the agony is over. A bit shaky of the climb, I drink a coke, eat some food, and dive into the descent, knowing the last real climb of the day is coming up. The Passo Valzarego/Valparola.

This is the longest climb of the day, but the hardest part was already behind me. Still some 12km to climb.

One or two km’s into the climb, I notice a familiar shirt passing me. It’s Marc, without Danny. Where did I get ahead of them? I never saw them again after the Pordoi climb. But as it seemed, they stopped more often than me to get refueled. Marc quickly takes quite some lead on me again. And I will only see him at the finish again.

When you reach the top of that climb, you know it’s almost over. Just a descent and a short steep climb of something called Mur dl Giat (Wall of the Cat) and an almost flat race back to Corvara.

BUT, at the bottom of the descent of the Valzarego, the moment it went flat and I had to pedal harder, cramps hit me in the inside of my upper legs. I thought, how will I ever get up the Mur dl Giat? This cannot be the end of my Maratona, just some few KM’s from the finish.

But remembering what happened during my Milano – Sanremo ride, I took some gels, drank a lot and kept on (painfully) riding towards the Mur. And just as it happened in the MSR ride, this time too, the cramps went away and I was ready to tackle the last hurdle, the Mur dl Giat. In the end it was not as hard as I imagined it to be, but maybe the music and spectators gave me a boost. Even Vince, was sitting on the Mur with his camera, already for over an hour, just to get us on the pictures J

After the Mur it was just “Stoempen” as the Belgians say, back to Corvara, where I finished in a time of 7:42.27,1

Quickly I found Marc, wo just finished 3 minutes ahead of me in 7:39.37,3

Guido finished in:  9:00.23,5

Danny finished in: 8:35.49,1

Have a look at my ride details here:

Or watch my videos at:


What a great granfondo! The surroundings in the Dolomites are stunning! The organisation is good. And the whole Alta Badia region is living and breathing the Maratona in that week. Vince and I loved the Hotel, so If we come back we will be staying in the Maso Weber again.

If you have never taken part of a granfondo, do this one! It will not dissapoint you! If you hesitate because of the distance, they have 3 routes that you can ride, so something for everyone!