Giro d’Italia 2020 Report

Last time up the StelvioSo, how did I fare this Giro d’Italia 2020, compared to what I had in mind beforehand?

Well, I choked on the Mortirolo (from Mazzo) again and – barely – made it up the Bernina, all the way from Tirano.

The difference with last year being, that this did not happen during the same stage and that the Mortirolo was just as hot, but the Bernina was the coldest of all.

But, I kinda, sorta, had my revenge on the Mortirolo, as I was on its summit no less than four times, once twice during the same stage.

I also ended up on the Stelvio summit three times, during my prologue and as finishes for stages 7 and 9.

And, I was able to complete the Maratona dles Dolomites, which had been on my to-do/wish list, since I first visited the Dolomites in 2011.

Not surprisingly, that stage (6) also came with the highest elevation difference (D+) of all stages: almost 4,250 meters.

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Giro d’Italia 2020 Plans

Contrary to my past ‘Grand Tours’, I’m not going to write a road book for my Giro d’Italia 2020.

Every time I put a lot of effort in it and while I usually manage to generally follow the stages I had in mind, I frequently have to change plans anyway.

This can be for any number of reasons, my advancing age probably not being the least important.

But, I’ve also suffered from a cyclist nodule and intense, hernia induced or incident related (back) pains.

Plus, the weather can be a force to reckon with and not seldom have I been cycling in near freezing conditions or ice cold rain one day, only to have my brain blown out because of the heat the next.

And while I have new climbs to discover during this Giro, I am already quite familiar with the area(s) and most of its climbs.

So, I can leave it that and you can stop reading if you’re no longer interested, but I’m writing down a few (loose) ideas anyway…

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Giro d’Italia 2020

Gavia from Ponte di Legno 2015

Late 2019, we initially booked a vacation on Tenerife, where I would cycle up and down El Teide and Paula would bake in the sun.

Then Corona/Covid-19 happened and we decided to not take avoidable risks and cancelled that trip.

Paula being who she is, then asked me if I would be in for an alternative, like Italy, maybe the Dolomites…

The occasional visitor of this site will know that I didn’t need a lot of time to think that over.

HELL YEAH!

So, we found a hotel in Ponte di Legno, at the base of…

* Drum roll *

the Gavia.

Yes, it’s also on the road up Passo del Tonale, but let’s face it: that has gotten slightly less attention during the history of the Giro d’Italia.

And while it’s not in the Dolomites, she also sanctioned a side-trip with a stay at a hotel in Corvara ❤️

I deliberately did not write a road book with stages, as that usually turns out to be a lot of fun, but that is mostly useless when push comes to shove.

As this was my 3rd Giro d’Italia, going into areas I already know pretty well, I just put some ideas ‘on paper’.

In the end, I was able to complete most of the climbs I had penciled in and my most memorable achievement was the Maratona dles Dolomites.

The official event, which was cancelled in 2020 anyway, is hard to get a ticket for and if you do, it’s often an ‘all inclusive’ package, at a ridiculously steep price.

So, the Queen Stage of my Giro d’Italia 2020 was definitely stage 6, which was the long course of the Maratona. Under blistering hot conditions, I might add…

Full report on this Giro here.

Passo Giau


With a summit at 2,236 meters, the Passo Giau doesn’t earn a high ranking in the list of highest (paved) passes in Europe.

However, with an average of 9.1%, the climb from Selva di Cadore is a tough one.

Climbing the Giau is also part of the long version of the Maratona dles Dolomites, the “Percorsa Maratona”.

I managed to ride that by myself, as it’s near impossible and expensive to get an entry to the official event, during my Giro of 2020. Besides, the event was cancelled in 2020, due to Covid-19…

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Mortirolo


Another dreaded, steep climb: the Mortirolo (or Passo della Foppa) with a summit at 1,852 meters. It used to be the favorite mountain of Marco Pantani.

“If you want to die, this is where you go” – encouraging words, often found when reading reports about this climb…

However, I think the Mortirolo from Mazzo di Valtellina, labeled the most difficult, is not much worse than the Gerlitzen – sadly, the latter is, or at least it was when I climbed it in 2008, hardly known to anyone, but I can assure you it’s as tough as the Mortirolo, especially the climb from Tschöran…

Nevertheless, I only managed to not nearly give up once: the first time I tackled the Mazzo ascend in 2011.

I’m not counting the Monno route, as that is do-able any day, but I’ve choked on the Mazzo – twice – and Grosio side since then.

The only time I went up from Grosio, was after I did the Monno ascend first, so that probably made it ‘a little’ more difficult.

Described here are the three ‘most famous’ alternatives, but there are quite a few ways to the top of the Mortirolo, many of which no more than goat paths and/or hiking trails.

This means that with a mountain bike, you have some more options to exhaust yourself. One alternative that is used in at least one gran fondo, is the one from Tovo, just south of Mazzo, with grades up to 26%…

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