I love mountains! And the 2012 Giro has plenty.
- In total, there will be twenty "Category 1" and "Category 2" climbs in yet another mountainous Giro.
- There will be six mid-mountain stages (6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 16), and five high-mountain stages (stages 14, 15, 17,19, 20).
Passo dello Stelvio - Bormio side
After the jump let's take an numerical approach to rank the top 20 Giro climbs in terms of difficulty.
Note, whereas the Tour de France rates climbs as HC, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The Giro doesn’t use a Hors Categorie rating - Cat 1 is the hardest, Cat 4 the easiest. And Grand Tours use a harder climb rating system than smaller tours. So Category 1 and 2 Giro climbs range from big to near impossible.
To rank the climbs I will be using a difficulty index from www.climbbybike.com that we have used previously.
Note: If you are interested in calculation methodology, see this link for more on the difficulty index. But in brief, the formula results in an arbitrary difficulty number - by taking into account length, ascent, and altitude - that can then be used to contrast and compare with other climbs. It's not perfect, but works well as a basis for debate.
THE CLIMB DATA - disclaimer
My numerical difficult rankings may differ slightly from www.climbbybike.com as I am using the climb data provided by the profiles on the official Giro web site - and it obviously depends where one assumes a climbs starts/ends - when possible I have taken into account the extra ascent where a climb has a brief descent.
I have added Alpe d’Huez to the chart for perspective as many will have a better feel for its difficulty than for some of the Giro climbs.
The Hardest Climb?
Mortirolo. This isn't the best known side that starts in Mazzo and passes the Pantani monument. And it's not the other two usual sides either. Instead it's a tiny road starting just south of Mazzo at Tovo di Sant'Agata. I can't even see the road on Google Maps but it seems similarly steep as the Mazzo route. At some point it rejoins the Mazzo route (does anyone know if it passes the Pantani monument or joins too late?) but a couple of kilometres before actually reaching the summit it turns off and descends to Grosio (I think the ladies Giro descended this side in 2011).
The Toughest Mountain Stages?
This is a back-ended Giro in terms of difficulty, with the first high mountain day not until Stage 14. And they just keep getting harder from then on.
- Stage 20 is clearly the queen stage with not only the two toughest climbs, but also the highest mountain top finish in a major European race atop Passo dello Stelvio. Note, this is NOT the best known side of Stelvio but a slightly easier side starting in Bormio. Still, it's an absolutely beautiful monter. It's less steep than Mortirolo, but much higher and much longer.
- Stage 19 is not too shabby either with four of the twelve toughest climbs and a mountain top finish at Alpe de Pampeago.
- Stage 17 has 4 of the toughest 13 climbs with a hair raising finish: 20 downhill kilometres after summiting the very steep Passo Giau.
There will lots of exciting racing in the 2012 Giro, but as someone that likes climbs I'll be putting these three stages in my TV viewing calendar.