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Sweat and pride — iconic passes around Italy’s Bormio

Martin Donat | lifeCYCLE Magazine

Sweat and pride — iconic passes around Italy’s Bormio

Road Cycling Collection by Martin Donat

7

Tours

34:09 h

334 mi

48,725 ft

The Passo dello Stelvio is legendary. It’s the epitome of the euphoria, pride and scenic beauty that come with tackling alpine passes. Equally, however, it stands for sweat, exertion and agony in their most wonderful forms. It’s the queen of the mountain passes. Each of its 48 hairpin bends tells a story – a story of the Giro d'Italia, which traditionally passes through here, but also of countless passionate racing cyclists who have fulfilled a dream by climbing this pass of passes.

At least, that's what was buzzing through my head every time I heard about the infamous Stelvio Pass. But I had no personal experience with this pass until now. In the summer of 2018 though, that changed. I spent a week in Bormio to explore not only the Stelvio Pass on my road bike, but also a whole series of other passes. Seven sweaty rides later, I was able to put a few ticks on my bucket list! In this Collection, I'll show you these fantastic road climbs.

The Passo dello Stelvio is the main protagonist, but this Collection also has much more to offer. At the foot of the Stelvio Pass, down in the small Italian village of Bormio, not only does the most famous of all pass roads start but an alpine racing bike paradise opens up to you. Wonderful mountain roads, rapid descents, countless altitude gain and breathtaking views await.

Enjoy the exhilarating descent over the Umbrail Pass into the Müstair Valley, cut your teeth on the legendary Mortirolo and let yourself be inspired by the amazing view at the top of the Gavia Pass. Bormio is the hub for all these passes, which can be combined into wonderful Tours. And the small town, with its quiet Italian charm, its impressive mountain backdrop and its thermal springs, provides a base camp that’s made for racing cyclists.

In the town, you’ll be well looked after. Bike hotels welcome you, you can rent wheels, exchange ideas with other road cyclists in a café, and enjoy the cultural and culinary offerings too. Throughout the summer, Bormio attracts many racing bike events, amping the atmosphere right up.

Bormio is located in the Valtellina – the valley of the Adda – in the north of Italy, very close to the Swiss border and not far from Austria and southern Germany. I travelled by train, of course, which is perfectly doable but it was a bit exhausting. Especially the last two hours by regional train to Tirano and from there by bus; I was very happy when I finally arrived. I was all the happier that I had planned a whole week – so at least it’d been worth it.

In any case, my seven Tours offer enough material for a wonderfully exhausting, but also wonderfully enjoyable week at one of the Alps’ best racing bike hotspots. From the short warm-up lap and the challenging day Tour to the small recovery ride, including a stop at a hot thermal spring, I experienced different and exciting adventures every day. It's a colourful itinerary that guarantees you won't get bored. Have fun climbing, descending, working out and recovering!

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    02:11
    19.9 mi
    9.1 mph
    3,075 ft
    3,075 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    You probably know that feeling too: When you finally arrive at your destination after a long journey, you can hardly wait to finally get on your bike and tackle the legendary passes. However, when it comes to a pass as legendary as the Stelvio, it makes sense to slow down a little. First of all, you

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  • Difficult
    03:01
    26.4 mi
    8.8 mph
    5,100 ft
    5,100 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Even if the southern ramp to the Stelvio is actually not "the right" Stelvio ascent (because the north-east ramp from Prad actually stands for the legendary pass ascent), it is still part of it. First of all, you can start comfortably from Bormio. And secondly, with a length of 21.5 kilometers and an

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  • Difficult
    10:30
    105 mi
    10.0 mph
    14,500 ft
    14,475 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Once a year, this tour is a very special treat: when the "Granfondo Stelvio Santini" loads, the streets belong to the cyclists. Around 3,000 racing cyclists set off on this day to tackle two of the toughest mountain passes of all. There would of course be the legendary Stelvio. Above all, there is also

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  • Easy
    01:06
    13.0 mi
    11.9 mph
    775 ft
    775 ft
    Easy road ride. Great for any fitness level. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Bormio really offers a lot of opportunities to really work out. If you have done a strenuous tour and left a few passes behind you, you will be pretty exhausted. Getting some rest and giving your body a chance to regenerate is really important now. But that doesn't have to mean that you're lazy. A little

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  • Difficult
    06:51
    65.3 mi
    9.5 mph
    10,675 ft
    10,700 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    This tour is a classic. Today you will get to know the "real Stelvio"! Because today the Stelvio ascent from Prad is on the program and thus a short detour to Switzerland. But one after anonther.

    

    It starts in Bormio. The first kilometers are identical to the southern ramp to the Stelvio Pass. However

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  • Difficult
    08:51
    92.0 mi
    10.4 mph
    12,200 ft
    12,200 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    All roads lead... to a mountain! At least from Bormio. And that's a good thing. Because that's exactly why you're here. Also today you don't drive on any mountains, but on two real crackers that will demand everything from you. You've already met Mortirolo. Today it's the turn of the north ramp from

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  • Intermediate
    01:38
    12.4 mi
    7.6 mph
    2,425 ft
    2,400 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Actually, you should be on your way home by now. But you don't want to yet. The mountains, the passes, the Italian small town idyll. A little ride on the bike, that still has to be in it. Okay, here you get it: my little farewell tour.

    

    The mountain is short and crisp and it starts right in town without

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    334 mi
  • Duration
    34:09 h
  • Elevation
    48,725 ft

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Sweat and pride — iconic passes around Italy’s Bormio

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