The Giro d'Italia has been the stage for many great sporting battles. These races have explored the Dolomite mountains since the 1930s. In particular, the Pordoi Pass was the scene of the first great victories of Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi. In the following years, the organisers of the Giro d'Italia always found new climbs to add to the route like the Stelvio in 1953, which was decisive for Fausto Coppi's victory.
In the late 1960s, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Eddy Merckx's cross, was on the itinerary. In fact, the Belgian dominated the first ascent of the Three Peaks in 1968, but in 1974 he struggled to defend himself against Baronchelli's attacks: Merckx won the Giro with only a 12-second lead over the young man from Lombardy, the smallest margin between first and second place in the history of the Giro d'Italia.
The 'Patron' of the Giro d'Italia of those years, Vincenzo Torriani, must be given credit for two other historic climbs: the Passo Fedaia and the Blockhaus. Tough gradients characterise both ascents, which have also decided the fate of the race in more recent years. The Blockhaus, in particular, is the only climb in central Italy that has made or broken riders. In its first edition in 1967, it cemented the legendary status of Merckx, who surprisingly won the Apennine mountain stage.
From the 1990s onwards, the organisers have tried to add tougher climbs. In fact, some of the historic climbs, such as the Pordoi, became relatively easy thanks to technological advances, preventing selection in the peloton. The Mortirolo and the Zoncolan have become the new iconic climbs: the gradients, always in double figures, are an exciting part of the Giros.
Finally, in 2005, the Giro d'Italia also discovered gravel climbs. The Colle delle Finestre immediately entered the hearts of Italian athletes and was the scene of the greatest cycling feat of the 2000s – Chris Froome in 2018.
I propose a route for each historic climb. Almost all ascents are only possible in the summer, from May or June until September or October. The exceptions are the Pordoi Pass, which is open all year round, and, in part, the Blockhaus, where you can reach the Majelletta all year round (barring heavy snowfall).
To tackle these climbs, you’ll need technical clothing, which is indispensable on the long, cold descents.
The Stelvio pass deserves first place in the roundup of climbs that have made the history of the Giro d'Italia. With its 2757 meters, in fact, the Stelvio is the highest paved pass in Italy. When proposed by the organizers of the Giro, the Stelvio pass is automatically Cima Coppi, i.e. the highest pass…
The Gavia pass, at an altitude of 2,618 metres, is geographically located in the southern Rhaetian Alps and connects Bormio to Ponte di Legno. The Giro d'Italia has passed the summit of Passo Gavia ten times: in its first two passages it literally made the history of the Giro.
In 1960 the Gavia pass…
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The Pordoi pass, with its 2,239 meters, is located on the border between Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige. It connects Arabba to Canazei: on the descent towards Canazei it is possible to connect with the Sella pass. Pordoi has certainly made the history of the Giro d'Italia. Until 2023 it has been tackled…
Passo Fedaia is one of the other historic climbs of the Giro d'Italia. It is located near the Pordoi, as it connects Canazei to Rocca Pietore.
The most difficult ramps to reach the 2,057 meters of the Fedaia pass are on the side of Rocca Pietore. In particular, the climb becomes really tough after Malga…
We remain in Veneto for another legendary climb of the Giro d'Italia. The ascent that leads from Lake Misurina to the Auronzo refuge, at the base of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, is reminiscent of the Fedaia just described. In fact, even in this case, to reach the 2,304 m of the Auronzo Hut you have to work…
Friuli has given the pink race a new historic climb: the Zoncolan. Called "Kaiser", or "the monster", Zoncolan was only discovered in 2003. On that occasion, however, it was climbed from the easier side, that of Sutrio. Gilberto Simoni was the first to win at the 1,750 meters of Zoncolan: he detached…
The Mortirolo pass joins the Valtellina, to be exact Mazzo, to the Valcamonica, Monno. This pass was only discovered in 1990 by the Giro d'Italia.
Already in 1994, however, he became legendary: Pantani, in fact, detached both the Berzin pink jersey and the dominator of the '92 and '93 Giros, Miguel Indurain…
18 kilometers at 9% average: these numbers would be enough to explain the difficulty of a climb. Colle delle Finestre, on the other hand, wants to be unique. In fact, the last eight kilometers of this wonderful pass are dirt roads!
Colle delle Finestre was only discovered by the Giro d'Italia in 2005…
Can a climb with only one appearance in the Giro d'Italia remain in history? The answer is yes if it is Colle Fauniera!
The 2,481 meters of Colle Fauniera were reached only in the 1999 Giro d'Italia, in the stage that ended in Borgo San Dalmazzo.
Colle Fauniera is remembered both for the magnificent performance…
The Blockhaus is probably the best known and, at the same time, hardest climb in central Italy. 'Blockhaus' is a purely German name, coined by an Austrian soldier: it derives from a wooden fort used by brigands at the time of Italian unification.
There are three slopes that lead to the Blockhaus, at almost…
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