Passo dello Stelvio (Bormio side)
The epic Stelvio… This is one of the ultimate challenges for amateur and professional cyclists alike and has been made famous by the legends of the Giro d’ Italia.
The climb rises from 1225m to the ‘Cima Coppi’ at 2758m, the second highest paved road in Europe.
For me, my love of Stelvio was instant. The winding roads, spectacular views and of course the whole grandness of it all. I ride this every week but it is something I will never get tired of. I love it! This climb is one that you will remember for the rest of your life.
As you set off from Bormio you will see a small wooden sign with the number 40 on it… The countdown begins. Only 39 more tornante (switchback/turns) remaining…
You immediately begin your climbing journey, at first not so steep but soon working its way up to around 8% which it then stays at for the majority of the climb. Five tunnels, a short 14% kick then up the tighter switchbacks… What a view!
At 16km you are rewarded for your hard work with a 1.5km flatter section but this rest is short lived as you must then make the final three leg sapping kilometres to the Cima Coppi.
The feeling you will have once you have reached the top is one of relief, fatigue but most importantly the extreme sense of achievement.
Passo dello Stelvio (Prato side)
One word… Spectacular. This side of Stelvio is slightly longer and at first you are thinking.... hmmm this is nice but not that amazing… Don’t be fooled, it is just getting started.
The first 8km are relatively cruisey as you wind your way around the valley towards the Stelvio. Like the other side, every tornante (switchback) is numbered starting at 48. Time to begin your countdown…
Once you reach the small village of Trafoi the fun begins. The road through the trees is increasingly steeper and challenging. After 15km you will be greeted with some spectacular panoramic views. As you marvel at the views of the amazing road, switchback after switchback that seemingly rises vertically up to the top it dawns on you…. Oh bugger, I still have to go up that!The final 6km / 20 switchbacks are hell. Spectacular but still hell! Once you have reached the top you will feel a huge sense of achievement. Now to go down…