Why is Passo Giau famous? The Giro has visited here 7 times, the earliest as far as we can tell in 1973. However, this climb sells itself - it is one of the most beautiful cycling climbs in the world - there simply is no room to debate this conclusion and few who have been there would.
Route from the south (Monte Averau as viewed from the south)
Northern approach: left - Cinque Torri / right - Nuvolau
Both sides of Passo Giau are fairly short and mild by Italian road bike climb standards - northern approach is 5.4 miles, 2,350’ at 8.2% while the southern approach is 6 miles, 2,940’ at 9.4%. The steepest sections from the south: 11.1% ¼ mile, 10.55% ½, and 10.2% 1 miles and from the north: 10.8% ¼ mile, 10.1 ½ and 9.9% for a mile.
Each approach to Passo Giau has what the Dolomites have to offer - extreme and unparalled beauty - extraordinary and breathtaking mountain and rock formations. Passo Giau (and its Dolomite neighbor Passo Poroi) is truly a bucket list set of climbs that are well worth travelling from, say, for example, Northern California (USA) to do - and we are glad we included this pass in our 2017 6 country 55 climb European Climb Trip - it may very well have been the greatest experience of the trip. .
A sign marks each of the 29 south ascent tornantes.
Kilometer signs keep us company along the way.
The Giro d’Italia has featured Pass Giau roughly 9 times between 1973 and 2016. As of the drafting of this page (December, 2017), Passo Giau is to be included in Stage 14 of the 2018 Giro:
“Over the last 150 km of this queen stage across the Dolomites, 6 passes will be climbed, for a total rise and drop of 4,700 m (out of 5,400). The route runs across the Val Cordevole along well-surfaced roads, all the way to Arabba. Here, the route clears Passo Pordoi, followed by Passo Sella and Passo Gardena (with not even a single flat metre in between), and heads for the first pass over the finish line in Corvara (intermediate sprint). The road then climbs up Passo Campolongo, Passo Giau (the harshest climb of the stage, with an average 9% gradients, and peaks of more than 10-12% over the first kilometres) and Passo Valparola, which leads to the final 5 km.” Giroditalia
Passo Giau has been the Cima Coppi of the Giro twice since that designation was first introduced in 1965 to honor arguably the Giro’s greatest participant of all time:
“The Cima Coppi is the title given to the highest peak in the yearly running of the Giro d'Italia, one of cycling's Grand Tour races. The mountain that is given this title each year awards more mountains classification points to the first rider than any of the other categorized mountains in the race.
The categorization was first introduced for the 1965 Giro d'Italia in honor of the late Fausto Coppi who won five editions of the Giro d'Italia and three mountain classification titles during his career. It was first announced on 22 April 1965 by then race director Vicenzo Torriani that the highest peak would award two times as many mountains classification points. Torriani thought of possibly awarding time bonuses to the first to summit the mountain; however, after many dissenting opinions, he opted to go award more mountains classification points.
The Cima Coppi changes from year to year, depending on the altitude profile of the Giro d'Italia, but the Cima Coppi par excellence is the Stelvio Pass, which at 2758 m is the highest point ever reached by the Giro. The Stelvio has been used in the 1972, 1975, 1980, 1994, 2005, 2012, 2014 and 2017 editions. It was also scheduled in 1965, 1988, and 2013, but in each case the course was modified due to weather conditions, with various effects on the Cima Coppi designation.” Wikipedia - Cima Coppi
Gradient for Giau South
Steepest kilometer begins at km 4.6 (10.4%)
Gradient for Giau North
Steepest kilometer begins at km 4.3 (10.1%)
Informative Dolomite link is found at Bicivelo.