Giro 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…

Read moreGiro 2020 Plans

Umbrail Pass

A little side-trip into Switzerland during the Giro of 2011: the Umbrail Pass, which connects to the Stelvio (from Bormio) just after its summit.

Report on that stage here.

UmbrailAt 2,501 meters it earns a top 10 spot in the list of highest paved passes in Europe and it is the highest paved pass in Switzerland.

Santa Maria

With an average grade of 8.5% it’s far from easy, but it’s a nice, steady climb, with beautiful views and it is not too busy with motorized traffic.

The steepest part is actually right at the start, where, after a series of hairpins, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Müstair valley with Santa Maria in it.

The two kilometer unpaved section in the middle was actually not too bad, especially if it did not rain – probably it was more difficult in the descent, like during the Dreiländergiro*. However, since a few years, the entire pass has been paved, so this problem does no longer exist…

Because of its open character, the wind may be an annoying factor in the upper part, were the road is fairly straight, almost “meandering” like a stream. Just past the summit, you’ll end up on the Stelvio – you can then climb the final, difficult, kilometers up to the summit of that (CBB), or descend to Bormio.

Note that including the remainder of the Stelvio will increase the overall average grade to a staggering 9.4% over the full distance of 14.6 kilometers…


Obviously the climb from Bormio is better known for its more famous twin, the Stelvio.

Up to the summit of the Umbrail and the split for the remainder of the Stelvio at the old customs building, it’s 18.3 kilometers long at an average of 7.1%.

Not the easiest of climbs either…

A combination (loop) with the full length of the Stelvio – from either Prato or Bormio – is harder than it looks.

From Bormio you would first climb the Stelvio, descend to Prato and then circle around via Sluderno to Santa Maria for the Umbrail – this is the most obvious option.

Counterclockwise from Prato, with the Stelvio first and the descent to Bormio is also possible, but getting to Santa Maria that way is much more challenging.

You will first have to get over the Foscagno, take the bike-train through the tunnel Munt la Schera (now prohibited for cyclists) and then get over the Ofen pass.

Obviously, you could also just ascend the Stelvio from either side, descend the Umbrail to Santa Maria, turn round and get back up again 🙂

Picture gallery on Google+

* Link to the German pages, as the English pages on the site of the Dreiländergiro are often unavailable or outdated…

View of the Umbrail

Giro d’Italia 2011 – Stage 9


(And a bit of Fuorn)

GPS of today's rideUmbrail info page

The weather will continue to be ‘rainy’ for the remainder of this vacation.

Perhaps with the exception of tomorrow, when it’s expected to stay (at least) dry. C. will use that day to climb the Stelvio from Bormio and the Gavia from Ponte di Legno.

Sunday there is the ‘Mapei Day‘ which means the Stelvio will be closed to motorized traffic and there will be all sorts of sporting events (roller blading, running, cycling).

Would be nice, but the weather looks really bad for that day.

Today, he took on the Umbrail Pass and used the Fuorn (Ofenpas) as a warm up – he caught some rain, but nothing like yesterday…

Read moreGiro d’Italia 2011 – Stage 9