Tour of Lombardy
Date of achievement: 16/09/2020
We started in Valbrona, from our AirBnb, with a decent to get on the track of the Tour of Lombardy in the direction of Bellagio. It goes with some ups and dows next to the lake of Como. We started the day very easy going, because we were a little worried about what was to come. We would reach +2500 altitude meters on just above 100 km. That is a lot…
In Bellagio we started the climb towards Madonna del Ghisallo. The numbers don’t say the whole story. Just above 8 km long and an average of 5%. The first 3 km have an average of 9%. We saw plenty of strokes of 12 – 14 %. It’s because half way you have a flat part, that the average for the whole climb is not that high. After the flat part, you have quite some hairpins before you reach the church on top of the hill.
Madonna del Ghisallo is known as the “Patrona del Ciclisti” and the little church is a little museum. It’s a must visit. It has bikes from old legends, plenty of shirts of champions and many other stuff. There is also a bike museum next to it, but you can read about our visit on our bike road trip page.
Muro di Sormano: the hardest climb ever...
After our visit of the church we started the decent to the fear of the Tour of Lombardy: Muro di Sormano. According to the site of the museum, it is the most officially hard bike path in the world. It was even abandoned for 50 years because it was too difficult… even for the pros! From 2012 the wall was re-inserted in the Tour of Lombardy.
The climb start very gentle through the village and you encounter some signs and sculptures, it helps to increase the tension. A little further you see written on the road that you have to turn left. It even goes a few meters downhill… But then, it immediate starts…. It’s about 2km with an average incline of 17% and the steepest part goes up to 25%…. Every altitude meter is also written on the road, to remember you that you have gained another altitude meter, but I can tell you…. you don’t need those numbers to feel that you go up very quickly. Mostly you are happy to see things come rapidly one after another, but I can tell you, not this time. The closer the numbers, the steeper, and that is NOT what you want 🙂
Marie-Claire and myself have bike a lot, in Belgium and abroad, and we are unanimous: This is the hardest climb ever!
Tom made it in 15:53 and Marie-Claire in 16:42. The average speed of Tom was 6.5 km/h and the average cadans was 44 (36 x 30). It is really hard, and we can only try to imagine how it must feel for the pros after approximatly 180 km… It keeps on going on, and we didn’t manage to climb “en danseuse”. It was sitting down, as much as possible in the front of your saddle and just keep peddling…
At the top of the climb you have a bar where they have coffee, cold drinks and cake. It is very welcome….
Although Tom is a fan of high speed decends, we took this one very easy. Plenty of professionals crashed here, amongst them Remco Evenepoel. We didn’t want to take any risk and it’s completly true what they say. It is quite a technical decent and you have to take the upcoming cars really into account. There are a lot of high speed turns where you can’t see what’s behind. Please be careful.
We also halted for a few minutes on the bridge where Remo Evenepoel dropped 8 meters lower… It makes you realize that he was very, very lucky!
After the bridge it stays quite technical with a lot of hairpins before you finally reach the lake. What follows is a long part with ups and downs, before reaching Como. Just before you hit the center, you turn left to Civiglio. A climb of 4 km with an average incline of 10%. The numbers say it all! It’s yet another heavy obstacle in the final of the Tour of Lombardy.
The decent is both technical and fast and is followed by a few km through the center to overcome the Valfresca climb, just below 3 km with an average incline of 7%. After that it’s all down to the finish line!
Conclusion is that this is a very heavy race, with a very difficult and exhausting final. Your conditiion must be very good to win this race! But after all, that’s why it’s a Monument.