Details about the 2012 Giro d’Italia are starting to dribble out. In April, we learned that the Giro will start in Denmark. Given the Giro has always been a climbing festival, we’ve all been waiting for news about the mountain stages.
Just in the past few days, we’ve heard a few details of the mountain stages. The Giro will tour the Dolomites, hitting some of the great climbs I enjoyed on a trip with Alta Quota Adventures this August. The route will include the Pordoi, the Marmolada, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Gavia, the Aprica, the Mortirolo, and the east side of the Stelvio. We climbed 5 of these 7 on the trip this August.
If you’d like to see photos from Tre Cime, the Gavia, the Mortirolo, and the Stelvio, please read on.
Tre Cime is one of the nastiest pitches of steep pavement anywhere. Before the Giro heads up the little wall they call Tre Cime, they will pass by Lago di Misurina, a beautiful mountain lake just at the base of Tre Cime. The Giro riders will not have time to stop here, but it is definitely a beautiful place.
Next, here is my friend Rudy in one of the steepest switchback sections.
And here he is just before the finish at Rifugio di Auronzo.
And this is Rudy and me at the top.
A full account of our day climbing the Tre Cime can be found here.
The Gavia is a steep and tall climb with a narrow road. Here is a view up high of valley below the road.
The most memorable part of the Gavia is the tunnel. Cyclists face a difficult choice to go through the dark and long tunnel or ride on the rock-strewn abandoned old road.
Here’s a view of the old road…
and a view from further up the pass, looking down towards the tunnel exit and the old road.
Details of the stage up the Gavia have not been announced, but the organizers of the Giro have announced the penultimate stage which climbs the Tonale, Aprica, Teglio, Mortirolo, and Stelvio. They have even shared a course profile and riders have already reacted to this incredible stage which packs an incredible 5900 meters of climbing into a mere 218 km.
The Tonale and Aprica are nice passes. I’ve climbed them, enjoyed them, and didn’t find them particularly hard. Legendary cycling journalist Bruce Hildenbrand tells me the Teglio is a mini-monster with some very steep grades, but it is just a warmup for the Mortirolo and the Stelvio.
The Mortirolo is indeed steep. You can read about it here. Here are my friends Ajax and Rudy gutting it out up the Mortirolo.
The most interesting part of the stage is the mountaintop finish on the Stelvio. The 6000-foot 48-switchback climb on the east side is the most famous, but this year, the Gavia will climb the lesser-known west side from Bormio. Although it is “only” a 5000-foot climb and quite a bit less famous than the east side, it is still incredibly scenic. Sending the race up the west side will result in more images from this beautiful climb in the media this summer.
The most notable part of the west side of the Stelvio is a sequence of tunnels.
Right after the tunnels is a section of switchbacks that is every bit as beautiful as the more famous ones on the east side.
The full route announcement for the Giro d’Italia is due soon, probably in mid October. Once that happens, we can anticipate watching the race this coming May.