Passo dello Stelvio from Prato Allo Stelvio.
Italy is our favorite country for climbing by bike. It has it all: stunning scenery (the Dolomites, Stelvio, etc.), history (Giro d’Italia), and challenge (three Top 10 World Climbs).
Photos clockwise from top left:
Stelvio, Zoncolan, Nivolet (world’s most beautiful), Pozza San Glisente (Italy #2) and Mortirolo (center).
The most concentrated climbing areas in Italy are Bormio, Monte Grappa and the Dolomites.
Italy has the most World 100 Bike Climbs by far than any other country.
Our favorite Italian bike climbs are:
PASSO DELLO STELVIO, TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE AND LOMBARDY REGIONS
ONE OF THE FOUR MOST FAMOUS WORLD BIKE CLIMBS
This fantastic bike climb is the centerpiece of the World Cycling Area of Bormio. This is one of the greatest bicycle climbs in the world -- an unparalleled jewel. No more than what has already been written about it can be said; adjectives do not do justice to this extraordinary road and cyclIng climb. Passo Dello Stelvio is truly in a class by itself.
Our first hairpin of . . . .
. . . 48
Ultimo tornante (“last turn”).
Stelvio means “hairpin” in Italian - just kidding, but only kinda . . . 😉
Photos clockwise from top:
Looking down the mountain, Hairpins 8 (photo bottom) to 24 (photo top); Hairpins 42-35; Hairpins 30-24.
Stelvio is our favorite bike climb finish in the world.
MONTE GRAPPA, VENETO REGION
THE GREATEST CONCENTRATION OF EXTREME BIKE CLIMBS IN THE WORLD
The bodies of 22,190 Italian and Austrian WWI soldiers are interred in the Sacrario del Monte Grappa.
We believe Monte Grappa has the highest concentration of HC climbs than any other area in the world. The eleven Monte Grappa HC climbs within a 17.5 mile radius are unparalleled. We spent six days on Monte Grappa climbing all eleven ascents in the Brevetto del Grappa Journey Book. Staying longer in the area to complete the climbs in more days would have been preferred, but our tight schedule permitted us nothing more.
We designed a Monte Grappa 11 Climbs Jersey and filled in the circle
at the completion of each climb. 08/26/17 to 09/01/17.
The company Energiapura Race Suits sponsors this fun and difficult challenge and makes available in Romano d'Ezzelino a Journey Book which has a page for each climb and a location for two stamps (one for the start of the climb and the other for the “Cima Grappa,” or, top of the climb). The objective is to have your book stamped at each of the eleven stamp locations (usually a tavern or ristorante) at the beginning of each climb and then at the top after completing the climb. All routes up Monte Grappa end at Casa Armata del Grappa E Rifugio Bassano (otherwise known as Rifugio Bassano, or Rifugio Bassano a Cima Grappa).
Finish for all eleven climbs.
The Rifugio Bassano is located just below the Sacrario del Monte Grappa.
The Sacrario del Monte Grappa and la Madonna del Grappa (chapel on top of the Sacrario).
ZONCOLAN, FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA REGION
A RUGGED CLIMB WITH THE BEST KILOMETER SIGNS IN THE WORLD
The Giro d’Italia has made this bike climb famous. It also has the best set of kilometer/mile markers of any bike climb in the world. Below are all of the kilometer signs on the Monte Zoncolan climb - if a year for a Grand Tour is listed, that means the rider won the event that year, unless specified otherwise (e.g., if he was KOM).
Ottavio Bottecchia (IT; Winner TdF 1924-1925); Alfredo Binda (IT; Giro d’Italia 1925, 1926, 1928-1929, 1933; World Road Race Champion 1927, 1930, 1932).
Photos clockwise from top left: Louison Bobet (FR; TdF 1953-1955); Charly Gaul (LU; Giro 1956, 1959, KOM 1956, 1959;; TdF 1958, KOM 1955-1956); Federico Bahamontes (ES; TdF 1959); Jacques Anquetil (FR; TdF 1957, 1961-1964; Giro 1960, 1964); Felice Gimondi (IT; TdF 1965; Giro 1967, 1969, 1976; Vuelta 1968; world champion 1973); Eddy Merckx (BE; not enough room for all of his accomplishments 🏆🏆🏆🏆, etc. - but . . . some of them: TdF 1969-1972, 1974; Giro 1968, 1970, 1972-74; Vuelta 1973; hour record 1972); Francesco Moser IT; Giro 1984; World Champion 1977); The Badger (FR; TdF 1978-1979, 1981-1982, 1985; Giro 1980, 1982, 1985; Vuelta 1978, 1983; World Champion 1980);
Giuseppe Saronni (IT; Giro 1979, 1983); Gianni Bugno (IT; Giro 1990; World Champion 1991-1992); Miguel Indurain (ES; TdF 1991-1995; Giro 1992-1993; Olympic Gold 1996); Marco Pantani (IT; TdF 1998; Giro 1998); Fiorenzo Magni (IT; #1 Greatest cycling photo of all time 👍👍; Giro 1948, 1951, 1955); Gino Bartali (IT; TdF 1938, 1948; Giro 1936-1937, 1946); Fausto Coppi (IT; TdF 1949, 1952; Giro 1947, 1949, 1952-53); Gilberto Simoni (IT; Giro 2001, 2003).
Franco Ballerini (IT; Paris-Roubaix 1995, 1998; Coach Italian National Cycling Team from 2001 until his death in 2010); Gilberto Simoni (IT; Giro 2001, 2003).
Final approach to the summit.
PASSO GAVIA, LOMBARDY REGION
THE DAY THE STRONG MEN CRIED
The cycling climb to Passo Gavia from Pont di Legno is one of the most iconic and classic of Italian Alps bicycle assents. This is the pass that made Andy Hampsten famous (or vice versa) in the 1988 Giro d’Italia -- often referred to as “The Day the Strong Men Cried” by the Italian sport magazine La Gazzetta dello Sport. It is an unbelievable climb and “must do” for all cycling enthusiasts living in or visiting Italy.
The legend himself -- Andy Hampsten - Cinghaile Cycling Tours.
The roadway is extremely narrow with sheer cliffs on one side for much of the second half of the climb.
The terrifying alternative to riding through the also dangerous 500 meter tunnel at kilometer 13.
One of the greatest cycling finishes in Italy and the world.
PASSO MORTIROLO, LOMBARDY REGION
FREQUENTLY INCLUDED IN THE GIRO, AND RIGHTLY SO!
Mortirolo. Yes THE Mortirolo! We love Mortirolo, and, contrary to many of its “sans scenery” critics, we beg to differ! At #9 on the Top Italian Climb List, it is a stout climb and serious challenge. There is a reason this climb has been one of the most frequently visited (see chart, below) by the Giro d’Italia over the years. Yes, the distant views are often blocked by the thickly wooded forests bordering the road as we ascend, but to the interested and trained eye, there is much to behold.
The climb has ancient structures and scenic views along its 11.6 kilometers.
3 pass signs at the top.
There are four routes to Passo Mortirolo:
DOLOMITES, TRENTINO-ALTO ADIGE AND VENETO REGIONS
PERHAPS THE MOST SCENIC CYCLING VENUE IN THE WORLD
In our opinion, the Dolomites are the most beautiful cycling area in the world. Some of our favorites:
Passo Giau is located at the foot of the Nuvolau Massif, one of the most renowned peaks in the Dolomites.
Passo Giau - Nuvolau Massif at the pass.
Passo Giau is a fairly short, mild climb by Italian cycling climb definition. The Giro has included this climb seven times since 1973.
Falzarego from either side is one of the longer and most scenic of Dolomites bike climbs. The Giro has included this climb five times since 1976.
Passo Gardena may have more extraordinary massifs in sight during the bike climb than any of the other Dolomites climbs. Passo Gardena is an exceptional and bucket list cycling experience.
Photo: Top left - Brunecker Mountain; Top right Murfelt Spitze;
Bottom right Langkofel Group; Bottom left Pizes de Cir;
Center - Passo Gardena - extraordinary!!