Monte Grappa


Monte Grappa glares out over the Veneto plains much in the same way that Mont Ventoux looms large over the Rhone Valley. Extending 30 kilometres from the banks of the Piave river – almost to the Brenta – Il Grappa dominates the skyline from Venice to Vicenza, its features as dark and inscrutable as its history, its moods as fickle as its weather.

For cyclists, the mountain has also become a magnet. Every weekend, at least in summer, it morphs into an anthill, swarming with fanatical local cyclists on each of its nine ascents.

The Climb in Detail



“A mountain steeped in history and arguably Italy's cycling home"

The Ascents

There are 9 ascents in total that wind their way up to the summit of Monte Grappa. Of those nine, it is purely incidental that the most famous and most popular, the Strada Cadorna, happens to be the easiest. Heading out of Bassano del Grappa the strada provinciale 57 runs northwest for two kilometres to Romano d’Ezzelino and the foot of this most classic route up the Grappa. You are then faced with undulating gradients as the road concertinas up at an average gradient of 6.2% over the course of 25-kilometres to the summit and the Rifugio Bassano.

 

Italy's Thermopylae

Monte Grappa has a sombre and significant place in Italian history thanks to its role in the First and Second World Wars. In three horrific battles spread over a year between 1917 and 1918, Italian troops fought heroically on the Grappa to repel the advance of their German and Austro-Hungarian counterparts. Then in the Second World War the mountain was again the scene of more fighting between Partisans and Nazis. A monument to the 12,615 soldiers that perished in the fighting in the wars can be visited at the top of the mountain.

It’s place at the Giro d’Italia

It was the northbound ascent that Giro d’Italia organizer Vincenzo Torriani chose for the race’s first assault on the Grappa in 1968 but it was a surprise winner who triumphed over cycling titans such as Eddy Merckx and Felice Gimondi as peloton journeyman Emilio Casalini took the victory. In 1974, the Giro then chose the route from Caupo in the hope of a fiercer battle then in 1968. The Giro organisers got what they wanted in Merckx triumphing in Bassano to give the Grappa.


"It never gets easier, you just get faster” – Greg LeMond 

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