STELVIO - 2758 m
Start 1. Prato allo Stelvio
Access 1. Trento - Bolzano - Merano
Start 2. Bormio
Access 2. Milan - Como - Sondrio - Tirano
Highest passo in Italy, the Stelviopass is here 25km long, so very long, and very constant. Despite of first kilometers, at 6-7%, after a small town (Gomagoi), the gradient sets to a higher level, still with 19 km to go. A bit later, the first tornanti, nº48, the first of an eternal but magic coutdown.
Postcard of Stelviopass from Prato side
So soon we enter a nice forest, where the gradient will always be 7-9%. Rarely up to 10%, but also empty of 5% sections, it's when you're 10km from the top that the postcard you've always seen appears. It's a shocking picture in front of you, the height factor comes up to scene. Still 9km to go, higher than 2000m, and always 8-9% til the end.
Not too much to finish
Personally, I think every cycling fan must come here and climb this historic monument. If you're fit, 39x23 or 25 is enough. But: the asphalt is bad, narrow, the weather cold, and teh climb eternal (1h45' at least). So patience and challenge it!!!
This is me with 4km to go
This side, now I've done both, is easier. Almost 5km shorter, and a pair of short and hidden vreaks to relax. Since beginning the climb, the gradient sets to 7-8%. The first part has a very interesting section with some dark narrow tunnels, before another group of tornantis. Here we get to the first gradient decrease, which we thank a lot.
One of the dangerous and dark tunnels
Starting the second part, we get into a steep but funny gourp of tornantis, at 8-9%, which drives us to another level in the climb. Now we're at 2000m, in a section where the road becomes really straight: cold and lack of air welcome us. In a short time, we'll arrive to the junction which could drive us to Swiss frontier, but keep on climbing. Now it's lees than 5km, and the gradient will hardly ever be higher than 9%.
These are the tornantis from Bormio side
Very similar to the other side, but shorter, a 39x23 or 25 should be enough. Besides, a lot of traffic, so take care crossing the tunnels. I don't recommend you to go there, I force you to go there. I've done it, and I'd love to be there again looking at the photos.
It smells like summit, just 1'5km