Rated the third hardest climb in professional cycling, the mighty Mortirolo (from Mazzo) was the main obstacle in our ride today and justifiably had the group a little nervous at the morning coffee meeting. Our ride started with the stunning road down through the Valtelina valley, almost entirely downhill for 29kms to the small village of Mazzo, made famous by the fact that it marks the start of one of the most famous climbs in world cycling.
The climb itself is around 12km long and averages just over 11%, but it is the long ramps at 18-20% that present the real challenge on this brute. The road is super narrow and today the surface was a little wet, making it difficult to get traction at times. Most climb this "hill" out of the saddle and all riders today had compact cranks fitted with cassettes sporting 28 or 30T rings. None of us threatened Ivan Gotti's climb record, or Pantani's time of 40:20 (note, Contador climbed the Mortirolo in 43:45 this year in the Giro). Also interesting to note that Pantani rode a 39/22, on his way to winning the stage of the Giro in 1994.
Brad was the quickest today with 1:07 and every rider did themselves proud and reached the summit smiling and as happy as cyclists in Italy. We took the descent down to Grosio (there are a few choices) and what an incredible ride it was with superb views of the mountains and valley.
After a quick lunch in the valley we tapped back up through the valley to Bormio for a well earned afternoon of "recovery". Tomorrow it's the Bernina Pass loop and a look at beautiful Livigno.
Brian Bubba Cooke
Exercise Physiologist, coach & cycling tragic for 30 years. Love the freedom, reward and sense of achievement that one can only experience in our amazing sport.