If you’re cycling the Stelvio pass, then stay in the area and tackle these two epic Italian road cycling climbs during your stay. Both the Gavia and the Mortirolo Passes are full of history and pain, being well known within the Giro. Yes, this is a tough ride, but it will reward you with epic views and a feeling of ultimate cycling satisfaction.
This classic road cycling route in the Italian mountains begins at Bormeo, which we think is the ideal base for road cycling in the area, allowing you to park up safely and have suitable refreshments on hand when you finish. If you’re looking for a great base for a road cycling trip to Italy, then Bormeo should be top of the list.
Photo by Jens Herrndorff on Unsplash
Distance & Ascent: 112km & 4224 metres
Refreshments: Ponte Di Legno is a useful stop midway, then the Rifugio Bonetta is described as a ‘cyclist oasis’ at the top of the Gavia. Bormeo also has great options.
- This route uses the quieter mountain roads (SP27), so make sure to stick to this. The alternative is traffic and tunnels and, like our routes elsewhere, we prefer to keep you quiet and safe. The initial few kilometres are an easy warm up, passing alongside the river and with quaint hamlets and mountain scenes to occupy you.
- From the village of Mazzo things get serious and the climbing begins. As you head off the main tracks and road rises, you’ll be in good company if you think that it’s the hardest climb ever!
- Once you reach the Mortirolo summit rest briefly before an epic technical descent of 10km to the valley. As it winds through mountain trees take care, with hairpins and steep gradients ready to catch you out. Experience is always the key, so don’t try tackling these high passes without having that knowledge. Also, be aware that the road forks as you descend and you’ll need to stay on the SP81 left to avoid the steeper and trickier descent.
- Once back in the valley take the SS42 and follow it to Ponte di Legno, where refreshments can be taken before you tackle the Gavia.
- The Gavia climbing itself begins as cross the Torrente Frigidolfo. It’s a steady start, but signs in the kilometres ahead will warn of steeper things to come.
- The road winds and curls its way through the trees for about 12km and after Pietra Rossa it steepens and you begin climbing proper. Leaving the treeline eventually, things steepen more and you ride through the tunnel, exiting for the last 3 km to the summit and the Rifugio Bonetta for a coffee and cake!
- It’s then time to descend back to Bormeo, but take care, as hairpins sneak upon you and your handling and awareness needs to stay focused.
Click below for GPX file