‘Pieman Pete’ has a few suggestions;
“I was looking at the Italia routes you mention… I have climbed Tende (on the south route) and it is a relatively gentle climb until the last 10km. I have been up it a few times (see Flickr photo) and is definitely a good climb on a nice day. I havent been down the french side but it is unsealed for a bit but nothing a touring bike can’t handle.
Depending on where you do plan to cross, I have done Col della Maddalena (SS21) and it is a bit of a slog and probably puts you too far north. I haven’t done Isola which is slightly more south but heard it is also a bit of a slog and climbs just as much as the Maddalena route in less distance. Agnello (even further north) is stunning but make sure you have a nice granny gear or otherwise you’ll be pushing 🙂
For the absolute easiest option I would suggest the valley down to Savona. It is not the nicest of routes if you follow the main road but there are plenty of alternative (read hillier) routes you could take to the coast. One such option is on the old Napoleon trail which might be of interest.”
What do you think?