The Passo Gavia is among the most feared and famous of the Giro d’Italia iconic mountain passes, the brutal and often snow-bound ascent having become a regular fixture since its debut in 1960.
The changeable weather conditions are all part of the myth of the famous climb, which imbued its snowy mayhem on last year’s Corsa Rosa on the day Nairo Quintana rode into the pink jersey.
That ascent was from Ponte di Legno, as shown by the Col Collective here, but there is more than one way to tackle the famous ascent, with the climb from Bormio, shown above, equally as brutal and unpredictable.
More than 25 kilometres in length, the summit arrives at 2,621m above sea level – by which point you will have climbed 1,404m and hit pitches as steep as 11 per cent in parts.
For Col Collective founder and endurance veteran Mike Cotty it is an ascent which he has tackled in the best and worst of conditions.
He says: “I got to sample it first-hand back in the (so called) summer of 2009 as I grovelled up its slopes from Bormio during an event called The Race Across The Alps, one of my first forays into the world of endurance road cycling.
“The fact that the day before was idilic and yet just a handful of hours later it was worse than mid-winter is testament to the Gavia’s prowess at being able to throw a tantrum at a moment’s notice.
“So why do I find myself returning so often? Its unpredictability is all part of the draw and if you catch it on a good day I can guarantee the memory of its rugged landscape, unique challenge and the natural beauty of the Lago Bianco (white lake) at the summit will soothe your soul forever. Without question [it is] a truly inspirational mountain.”
Max gradient: 11%