By Ties Arts
“The Mortirolo Pass (Italian: Passo di Mortirolo) (altitude 1852 m.) is a high mountain pass in the Alps in Italy. Also known as Passo di Foppa, it connects the province of Sondrio with the province of Brescia. The road from Mazzo di Valtellina is one of the most demanding climbs in professional road bicycle racing, having been used in the Giro d’Italia stage race many times.” Wikipedia - Mortirolo Pass.
The mountain pass can be climbed by four roads:
The latter, the Tovo climb may not be as popular as the climb from Mazzo, but is nevertheless a monstrous climb and it could be the hardest one of the four climbs.
Just looking at the gradients is a quite disturbing. The only major difference from the climb from Mazzo is the fact that this ascent gives you the chance to recover for a little bit around kilometer 8. The maximum gradient is a whopping 22%! The sections between 3km and 6km (12.5%), and the last 4 kilometers (13.7%) are absolutely brutal. The climb has 38 hairpins, the road is small and predominantly passes through the woods
“2012 was the first year when the Giro d’Italia organizers introduced this climb of the Mortirolo Pass from Tovo di Sant’Agata. Oliver Zaugg from the then Leopard Trek team was the first rider to reach the summit.” Cyclinglocations - Mortirolo Pass.
This Tovo climb has become famous since it became part of the well known Annual Cycling Event (started in 2013): Granfondo Stelvio Santini
I did the climb in June (6th) 2016 during the Gran Fondo di Stelvio event. So when I went up I had already done 70 km including 1 climb (Teglio). The weather was ok meaning around 10 degrees above Celsius, some clouds and a bit a sun. The climb immediately gets you by the balls and I felt the gradient did not come below 10% on my garmin for a long time. It often felt as a relief when my garmin showed me just 10%! All the participants of the Gran Fondo di Stelvio kept their own pace and were fighting their personal battle to get up.
So was I. I was driving on my brand (day 2) new bike , a Trek Domain 5.9 with 34x32. I needed it big time. When you get alerts on your Garmin coming below 5 km/hour you know what time it is: survival to get up. Hairpin by hairpin I went up and was motivated by passing others and not stopping to get oxygen. The section between km 3 and 6 was really tough – lots of rider had to walk, which motivated me to keep on the bike and nail this brute. (you know that feeling).
At km 8 you experience a small descent and I knew a wall would appear any moment. A wall called “Muur da lot” did appear. The road changes into cement because the gradient is so steep (22%). I saw many riders walking. Because it was so crowded with riders walking and the cement of the road I could not find my way up and had to accept a “Johnny Walker” myself.
Deep respect for riders who came up this section here to conquer this wall. I walked for a few hundred meters with the bike and survived to the top. A small road between rocks and through the woods again. More and more the smile on my face came back. I did it! ☺ It took me around 1 hour and 25 minutes to get up.