Heart of the Valais
This 57km loop includes two passes and starts in Martigny, a town with a Roman past located in the French-speaking part of Canton Valais where the Rhone makes a right-angle.
The initial 10km on the valley floor prepare you for the first few hairpins of the ascent to the Lein pass (alt. 1623m) above Saxon. The road meanders among the pastures and orchards while offering views extending from Martigny all the way to Sion. The nearer you get to the pass, the more the Pierre Avoi, which dominates the climb, makes its presence felt. After 14km of pedalling up a gradient averaging 8.5%, the final few hundred metres of unmetalled road lead to the Val de Bagnes. You soon find yourself back on asphalt at the start of the descent towards Vollèges then Sembrancher at an atlittude of 730m. You immediately start to climb again, this time to the Planches pass (alt. 1411m). Caution: it can get very warm on this exposed south-facing flank, which offers few respites. Remember to take drinks on board before the final descent – you will need to remain alert throughout. After a few hairpins in a magnificent forest of larches, a dizzying descent brings you back to your point of departure 1000 metres further down. Take a break on the way to admire the glorious view of the bend in the Rhone and Martigny down below. As an alternative, you could start the tour in Verbier and join the loop at Vollèges.
Further information on road cycling in the Valais is available here: http://www.valais.ch/fr/information/landingpage/cycling