Valais’s Legendary Routes
Cycle the routes that have welcomed the great cycling events to Valais: the Tour de France, Tour de Suisse, Critérium du Dauphiné and even the Tour de Romandie have inspired many cyclists. Montana, Verbier and Finhaut-Emosson in particular have provided the finishing line for stages of the Tour de France. Furthermore, Martigny and the Rhône Valley will be hosting the UCI Road World Championships in September 2020. Tackle the trails and follow in the tyre tracks of the best cyclists in the world through the enchanting Valais landscape.
Tour de France Climb: Martigny to Emosson
Immerse yourself in the beauty and variety of Valais’s landscapes as they accompany you along this thirty-kilometre route starting from Martigny. Make your way through vineyards, climb the Col de la Forclaz and cycle through fragrant larch forests before reaching the Emosson Dam wall. Host of a section of the Tour de France in 2016, the region is home to many unmissable sites such as the famous dinosaur tracks and the spectacular Vertic’Alp rail system.
The Petite Forclaz
The Petite Forclaz climb is in the process of becoming a classic feature of the great cycling tours. Starting from Martigny, this 3.8-kilometre climb, with an ascent of 400 metres, crosses terraced vineyards, skirts thick, aromatic woodland and passes through quaint villages, before joining the Col de la Forclaz main road. In 2020, it will be the judge of cyclists competing in the UCI Road World Championships, punctuating the Valais circuit with its beauty.
Vermala Sprint: Crans-Montana
Try to match – or even smash – Laurent Fignon’s time over the stretch of route between Place d’Ycoor and the Tour de Vermala apartment block in the Crans-Montana region. It consists of a 1,700-metre-long sprint with an ascent of 150 metres which was won by the Frenchman in 1984 on the 20th stage of the Tour de France. This route section, which has also regularly hosted stage finishes for the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, is a veritable cycling challenge right at the heart of the resort.
Tour de France Climb: Châble to Verbier
See if you can measure up to Alberto Contador, the 2009 winner of the Tour de France stage between Morzine and Verbier. The famous climb from Le Châble to the finish in Verbier (the final section of a demanding course) is still a true test for cycling fans. This sporty, nine-kilometre trail, with a significant and winding climb up to the resort, only took him 20 minutes to complete. Can you do better?
The impressive mountain face formed by the Dents du Midi overlooks this 20-kilometre climb from Monthey to Champéry. Reach new heights on this route which served as the final stage on the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019. Cycle along the valley’s right bank to the village of Troistorrents, passing through the village of Choex before reaching Champéry via the left bank of the Val d’Illiez. Although the first section is quite demanding with several steep climbs, the last few kilometres to the resort are more gentle. Champéry is sure to seduce you with its many traditional chalets boasting typical Valais roofs and wooden balconies adorned with flowers.
If you are a seasoned cyclist and aren’t afraid of steep climbs, this trail is perfect for you. Tackle the 25 consecutive hairpin bends making up the Vionnaz climb to reach the Place des Jorettes in Torgon, a small village on the Valais side of the Chablais region. It is perched at an altitude of 1,200 metres on the Rhône’s left bank and enjoys a panoramic view of Lake Geneva and the Alps. Covering 13 kilometres and an altitude difference of 800 metres, this intense climb to the small Portes du Soleil resort was the crowning stage of the 2019 Tour de Romandie – exactly 40 years after Giuseppe Saronni’s victory on the same route.
Fall under the spell of the diverse landscapes on offer along this route between Salgesch and the thermal baths of Leukerbad. Starting from the famous wine-producing plateau, this 16-kilometre climb with an altitude difference of 900 metres passes through small, traditional villages, runs alongside impressive cliff faces and weaves its way through lush meadows. Host of the 2003 Tour de Romandie, this section is particularly well-known thanks to Valais cyclist Steve Morabito’s victory here on the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse in 2006.
If you have the soul of a great sportsperson and are looking for a challenge that matches your pedalling power, the 16 hairpin bends making up the climb from Stalden to Moosalp will certainly meet your expectations. Over this 15-kilometre climb with an altitude difference of 1,200 metres, admire the surrounding lush landscape where you might be lucky enough to see a Blacknose Sheep. Pedal along the same route as the Bärgüf one-day cycling event, during which participants raise money to fight cancer as they climb through this section.
Ascending the Col de la Croix de Cœur
More than 21 kilometres separate your starting point in the Rhône Valley from the finish at the summit of the Col de la Croix de Cœur. Starting from Riddes, climb to La Tzoumaz resort before taking an unpaved road for the final few kilometres. Around ten hairpin bends are scattered throughout the route leading to the summit of the pass, where you can marvel at a breathtaking view of the Combins massif. This climb up the hillside of the Rhône’s left bank is also the legendary final ascent of the Tour des Stations.
The Three Passes of the Obergoms Region
Your starting point is Ulrichen, a small village in the municipality of Obergoms which hosted the Tour de Suisse in 2007 and 2019. This is where your journey begins. Your itinerary includes more than 100 kilometres of trails including the three legendary passes of Furka, Nufenen and Grimsel, and covering a total altitude difference of more than 4,000 metres along the way. Climbing these three alpine giants means you can discover the source of the Rhône and enjoy spectacular views from their summits. This route is only recommended for experienced cyclists who aren’t afraid of hairpin bends or high altitudes, but it is also possible to complete each stage separately.
Known as one of the most beautiful passes in Switzerland, the Furka pass links the impressive Conches Valley to the canton of Uri. Conquering the third-highest pass at an altitude of 2,431 metres gives you the chance to contemplate unparalleled panoramic views of the Uri Alps and the Gotthard massif. Throughout your journey, experience the wild landscapes of the Rhône Glacier – home to the river’s source before it sets off on its long voyage to the Mediterranean – and explore the canton’s borders between valleys and glaciers.
Set out to tackle this Swiss alpine giant – an unmissable challenge for any self-respecting cyclist. Starting at Ulrichen and finishing at the Nufenen pass, this trail immerses you in a majestic setting where endless hairpin bends merge with permanently snow-capped summits, numerous waterfalls and hundred-year-old fir trees. After a winding climb that demands more and more effort as the air thins, stop at the summit to get your breath back and admire the view of the Ticino valley below and the spectacular mountains around you.
Forests of fir trees, wild valleys and permanent snow cover provide a picturesque and idyllic backdrop for your climb from Oberwald to the Grimsel pass. Throughout your cycle, let yourself be swept away by the beauty and unspoilt nature of the surrounding landscape and discover the Rhône Glacier, home to the river’s source. This route will take you to the fringes of the canton of Valais at more than 2,000 metres in altitude. At the summit of the pass, take the time to admire the uninterrupted view of the Valais and Bernese Alps before you descend back to the starting point or continue your circuit towards further legendary passes. Don’t forget to say hello to the marmots peacefully waiting for you at the top!