Passo Giau


Linking the valleys of Ampezzo and Livinallongo in the Dolomites, the Giau is considered to be the most beautiful mountain pass of the range that includes both the Fedaia and Pordoi. Peaking in a vast and beautiful mountain pasture at the foot of the Nuvolau Alto 2647-metre turret you can also see the summits of the Tofane, Monte Cristallo and the Sorapis.

Even with its beauty don’t let the Giau fool you, it can also be a beast. Known for its harsh and relentless gradient, the Giau has a daunting 29 hairpin bends from the Selva di Cadore side and is over 10 km long, peaking at 2236m.

The adjectives relentless and merciless are frequently used in relation to the Selva di Cadore ascent and even though the Giau has not yet gained the notoriety of its more famous neighbouring climbs it is a must for any cyclist that travels to the Dolomites.

The Climb in Detail



“The Giau never ends. You lose count of the hairpins” - Damiano Cunego

The Ascents

The mountain pass of the Giau can be climbed from the towns of Pocol in the north and Selva di Cadore from the south. With 29 hairpins on the Selva di Cadore side, this is the classic and harder ascent of the Giau, the one most commonly adopted by the Giro and the sportive Maratona dles Dolomites. While the Selva di Cadore route alternates sections of pine forest with open pasture and unobstructed views, the slightly longer and more gradual incline from Pocol, just outside Cortina, has fewer hairpins and a thicker treeline. Consistency is the hallmark of both climbs is the gradient hovering around ten per cent.

 

Through the Dolomites

Alexander Robertson, author of the 1903 book Through The Dolomites, commented generally of the range that ‘What Venice is among cities, these Dolomites are among mountains’. Robertson went on, ‘In line and colour, form and behaviour, they are unlike other mountains. They resemble reefs, over which may have broken, throughout long ages, the billows of an angry ocean.’

It’s place at the Giro d’Italia

It seems extraordinary that the Passo Giau has appeared on the route of the Giro d’Italia only a handful of times. On its Giro premiere in 1973, the Giau, still unpaved at the time, lived up to its billing by La Stampa as a horrific obstacle. The winner in Auronzo that day was José Manuel Fuente; the Italian Franco Bitossi collapsed completely, losing over half an hour. Since then and after being smoothed out with tarmac the Giro has used the climb in addition with some of the other more famous peaks in the Dolomites, but there is no tougher climb in the range then the Giau. 


"Terrible Giau, so high, so muscular and so dark" - Laurent Fignon

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