Climbing the Mighty Giao of the Dolomites
Anybody that enters into an event called ‘the Marathon of the Dolomites’ will immediately understand that some significant hill preparation beforehand would be a good idea. Actually, better than a good idea, rather necessary preparation that needs to be done. Those riding the 138km route will need to endure 7 captivating climbs, accumulating over 4,300m vertical metres of pure (and thin) Dolomite air. However it is the timing of the inclusion of the Passo Giao that throws the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. And a very good reason to hit some hills over the next months.
Ivan Basso describes the Giao as like receiving a ‘slap in the face’. I think this description fits perfectly. It comes following the longest period between climbs during the Maratona (in the Maratona you tend to be either going up or down!). A descent off the Campolongo is preceded by a relatively flat and fast 10km stretch, followed by a short climb (not one of the 7 passes on route), another down-hill section before a left hand turn and slap – Passo Giao!! The difficulty of this climb is that for 10km it doesn’t back off – consistently around 10% and what more at altitude. Add to this it will be your 6 major climb of the day, it really does challenge your legs and lungs – and will. However it does provide beautiful distraction, and as a recent Giro d’Italia classic you do feel an extra-special sense of occasion and emotion on this climb.
So keep the riding up Team Solo Bike