Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Passo di Gavia

I record sporting events to watch while I'm doing my afternoon treadmill run. These days I'm finishing a review of this year's Giro d'Italia and I've just come to Stage 20 for which the numbers are impressive. Only 110 miles long, the stage was short by Giro standards but not the less difficult since five mountains and almost 21,000 feet of climbing were packed into it. The riders crossed the highest point on the fourth of the five climbs. As is normal at that time of year — May 28th — that fourth mountain, the Passo di Gavia, was covered by many feet of snow. For most of the race the weather was windy and clouds were low, but there was no precipitation. However, conditions were so bad at the mountain finish that Italian TV was only sporadically able to provide the video images being captured by its many motorcycle- and helicopter-borne cameras.

During video outages, the race commentators showed clips of the 1988 race over the Gavia. On that memorable occasion, the riders crossed the pass in a snowstorm. Erik Breukink took the stage and Andy Hampsten rose to overall leader, having the lowest cumulative time for all stages to that point. At the end of the three-week race, Erik would end up in second place and Andy in first — the only American (or any non-European) ever to win the Giro. Andy currently divides his time between homes in Tuscany and Colorado. He leads bike tours in Tuscany and sells Hampsten-branded bikes in the US. He reports that life is good. Erik is currently manager of the Rabobank racing team and is pleased with the team's performance in major tours, though wins have been scarce.

Back in 2007, I did a blog post on Erik and Andy on the Gavia: snow, gentle and ferocious.

This photo shows Erik on that occasion:

{source: giroditalia's flickr photstream}

And this one shows Andy:

{Andy Hampsten, Passo di Gavia, 1988; source:}

Here's what the pass looked like this year:

{source: Giro d’Italia Stage 20 on cyclingtipsblog}

This year's race profile map gives an idea of the stage's climbs and descents.

{source: Giro home page}

This photo of part of the Gavia gives an idea what the riders face in both climbing and descending the mountain.


Here are links to two Youtube videos from this year:

Giro 2010 Stage 20 Passo di Gavia (pt.1) on Youtube

Giro 2010 Stage 20 Passo di Gavia (pt.2) on Youtube

And here's one from 1988:

Giro d'Italia 1988, Passo di Gavia on Youtube


Some sources:

Update: Gavia Pass for Saturday on the ItalianCyclingJournal blog

Giro’10 St. 20 on Pez Cycling News

Andy’s Epic Day On The Gavia on Pez Cycling News

Gavia Pass on wikipedia

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