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Test yourself to the full on the famous Granfondo Stelvio Santini course

Tania Pecceddi
Test yourself to the full on the famous Granfondo Stelvio Santini course

Fancy yourself as a bit of a mountaineer when it comes to road cycling? Why not take on the climb Lance Armstrong famously described as the hardest he has ridden. The Granfondo Stelvio Santini not only offers the chance to tackle the notoriously difficult Mortirolo pass, but also the Stelvio pass, both of which are considered among the toughest ascents in cycling.

On the 4th June 2023, adventurers who like their scenery with a dose of leg-burning exhaustion will return for the increasingly popular event and their chance to channel the likes of legendary Italian riders Marco Pantani and Fausto Coppi.

A mixture of professional and amateurs alike train for months to tackle what many call the holy grail for cyclists and the picturesque town of Bormio comes alive with the colour of lycra and the well-wishes of the supportive townspeople who flock to the start line to cheer on the pack.

Then the hard part begins. If negotiating the Mortirolo isn’t daunting enough, for those thrill-seekers looking to tackle the full event, the Stelvio is waiting just around the corner, relatively speaking.

The highest paved road in the Eastern Alps, the Stelvio is a history-steeped chunk of track that has proved notoriously difficult for professional cyclists to negotiate, let alone those casual enthusiasts who like to turn a pedal on a dry, sunny Saturday.

With 75 hairpin turns, this is a climb that quickly sorts out the tough from the tougher, as cyclists travel from around the world to test themselves against the two iconic peaks.

Just making it to the summit on one of these behemoths is an accomplishment, which is why the event is divided up into three categories:

  • The short route - a 60-kilometre (and 2070m dsl) jaunt through Bormio – Sondalo – Bormio – Stelvio.
  • The medium route - a more challenging 137km (and 3200m dsl) roll through Bormio – Teglio – Bormio – Stelvio
  • The hard route - a 157km (and 4500m dsl) journey through Bormio – Teglio – Mortirolo – Bormio – Stelvio.

This last challenge will see participants embark on a vertigo-inducing four-kilometre ascent most people have only enjoyed from the comfort of their living rooms, during the Giro d’Italia.

Perhaps the best thing about the Granfondo Stelvio is the increasingly popular Pasta Party that happens in Bormio afterwards, where you can start to replace the carbs you have just spent the last six hours burning off.

It’s an iconic test of endurance nestled among some of Italy’s most picturesque scenery, but don’t worry if you’re not quite ready to take on the whole course. If it’s a series of tasters that you’re after, a little local knowledge goes a long way and will make your cycling experience a memorable one.

This is where touring with Cycling in Italy really comes into its own. Bormio ­– at the base of the legendary Stelvio climb ­– is the hometown of our founder Tania Peccedi.

We have accommodation in the area and the ability to organise daily outings that follow similar itineraries to the Granfondo Santini, so all that’s left for you to do is tune up your bike, start making travel arrangements and give those legs a bit of a pre-tour workout.

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