Passo dello Stelvio

The Stelvio is one of Italy’s great national landmarks, it remains today arguably the purest, most exhilarating, most spellbinding mountain playground accessible to cyclists.

You could say when riding the Stelvio that there is something spiritual about the journey to its summit. La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Claudio Gregori in 2005 wrote ‘The gods live on the mountains; The Indians had located them on the mythical Muru. The Greeks on Olympus. The sherpas on the Himalayas. The Japanese on Mount Fuji. The Stelvio is the sacred mountain of the Giro d’Italia.’

Created as a way to connect the regions of Lombardy and neighbouring Tyrol, renowned architect Carlo Donegani spent a year plotting his 49-kilometre masterpiece and amazingly only five years to build it. In 1825 the Stelvio was officially opened.

Since then it has gained a mythical status to cyclists and is a must for anyone who loves the challenge the mountains bring.

The Climb in Detail

“I’m still that eight-year-old kid who rode up the Stelvio. I’m still that kid in my legs, in my head and in my heart.” - Ivan Basso, former pro


The Ascents

There are three ascents to the summit of the Stelvio, each with a distinctive look and feel. The infamous 48 hairpins start from Prato allo Stelvio and this is usually the main route up for those wanting to conquer the peak. The picturesque town of Bormio is on the south side of the mountain and includes the 5 tunnels and is over 20-kilometres and 1500 metres of climbing. The least well known route starts in Santa Maria in Switzerland and was featured in the 100th Giro d'Italia.


48 hairpin bends

The most photogenic side of the mountain is the ascent from Prato allo Stelvio, 27 hairpins more than Alpe d’Huez the road coils up the mountainside with 48 total hairpins for riders to contend with. The road is relatively steady in gradient and is between seven and nine percent but is persistent in nature and even at a conservative pace you will start to feel the gradient as you arrive at the peak.

Its place at the Giro d’Italia

Since 1953 the Giro has seen it’s greatest riders battle the terrain of the Passo dello Stelvio. In its debut to Italy’s grand tour, the great Fausto Coppi wearing the pink jersey took the stage and the effectively the race by attacking 11 kilometres from the summit. Other virtuoso performances have come since then including Charly Gaul in 1961, Hinault in 1980, Pantani in 1994 and the Columbian Nairo Quintana in 2014.

"48 hair pin bends, and I think I graphically remember everyone! The best and worst day on the bike ever. A great trip, thanks Bikecation" - C.Smith 

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Bormio (LIN,VRN)
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