VeloViews for Friday, May 20, 2022 – Famous European Climbs (The Mortirolo Pass)

Looking down One of the Climbs of the Mortirolo

There’s one more full week of the Giro d’Italia left to go as the riders finished stage 12 today. Right now their legs are being tested with climbs of varying difficulty as the race progresses through the Alps. One climb that is often used towards the end of the race, and one I got to experience during my Italian cycling trip, is The Mortirolo Pass.

The Mortirolo Pass (in Italian the Passo della Foppa) is considered one of the hardest climbs in all of professional cycling. Even Lance Armstrong proclaimed the Mortirolo as one of the hardest climbs he’s ever encountered and he was just using it for training. I’ll admit I surrendered early during my attempt to ride it.

The roads of the Mortirolo are smooth but unforgiving with an average grade of 11% (sometimes close to 20% at points) and several switchbacks with close to 5,000 feet of elevation gain. The only plus is that the roads are buried behind an overhanging forest, so on a hot day with the sun beating down, at least you have the shade on your side.

At one point in the climb, there is a statue of Marco Pantini who won Stage 15 of the Giro on the Mortirolo in 1994. Tragically, his life was cut short in 2004 due to heart failure. However, he’s still considered one of Italy’s great champions on the bike. The statue was put in place in 2006.

Statue of Marco Pantani on the Mortirolo

Today, when the Mortirolo is used for the Giro, the first rider to complete the course receives a prize called the Cima Pantani. And I would say that prize is well deserved. Even though there are four possible starting points for The Mortirolo, none of them are easy, so every rider’s mettle is sufficiently tested.

Have you ever ridden The Mortirolo? It is said that if you are a serious bicyclist, you need to ride it. But if you don’t ever make it to Italy to ride it, that doesn’t mean you aren’t a serious bicyclist, you just aren’t a wanna-be pro, and not every bicyclist is strong enough to tackle something so hard.

Until next week, I hope you can find some Mortirolo-type roads wherever you live. Good, hard climbs exist in the most unlikely places. That said, I hope you get to have some time on your bike this weekend. And with summer approaching with its long, hot days, it will be easier to get more good rides in.

Please like, comment, and share this post if you found this information about The Mortirolo Pass an inspiration.

Author: Doug McNamee

Freelance Content Writer, Travel Writer, Editor, and poet.

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