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Fedaia: one of many gifts

28/04/2022

The 10 most iconic climbs of the Corsa Rosa: the Fedaia

Discover the 10 most iconic climbs of the Giro d’Italia with a dedicated section with tales, facts and statistics for each one.

It’s the turn of the last climb of the series, the Fedaia.

One of many gifts

The Giro d’Italia first tackled the Passo Fedaia on June 5, 1970.

The climb was already supposed to feature in the route of the Trento-Malga Ciapela stage the previous year, but the inclement weather stopped its debut: the stage was cancelled because of snow and wind on the passes, and rain and hail in the valley.

Torriani, however – the man who had introduced the Stelvio in 1953 and the Gavia in 1960 – wasn’t going to give up on that spectacular finish at the foot of the Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites. The peloton came back there exactly twelve months later. It was a lovely sunny day, then.

Merckx was in the leader’s jersey. His teammate Zilioli had broken away but was eventually hauled back shortly before the line. It was a six-man battle to the finish between Gimondi, Merckx, Bitossi, Dancelli, Vandenbossche and Gösta Pettersson.

Michele Dancelli, the points classification leader, attacked at 500 metres out, storming to victory.

Curiously, though, when the Giro first tackled the Marmolada, it didn’t really climb the Passo Fedaia. The peloton indeed took on the first 9 kilometres, from Caprile to Malga Ciapela, through the stunning Serrai di Sottoguda – a narrow gulch carved by the Pettorina river – but the pass was still 5 kilometres away. The hardest, most selective and – possibly – the toughest 5,000 metres of the Dolomites.

Just past Malga Ciapela, the route takes a slight right, and then, around the bend, the climb eventually shows its hardest face. First comes a straight of nearly 3 kilometres, averaging 12% and peaking out at 16%, followed by a further 2,500 metres ascending in hairpins with double-digit gradients.

Torriani knew it well, so he decided to save that gruelling stretch for the future, as if he wanted to unveil such a wonder a bit at a time. Which he eventually did in 1975, in the second to last stage of the Giro.

The route, from Pordenone to Alleghe, featured climbs up the Staulanza, Colle Santa Lucia, Fedaia and Pordoi passes. That day, the GC leader Fausto Bertoglio cracked along that terrible straight, however managing to defend the jersey against Galdos and De Vlaeminck, who eventually won the stage.

Special mention, though, must also be made of the powerful rouleur Giancarlo Polidori, hailing from Le Marche, and racing for Furzi. He was the first to clear the 2,057-metre Passo Fedaia. He was the first to be struck by the sight of the glacier embracing the Queen of the Dolomites all the way to the summit. He was the first to stare in wonder at one of the many great gifts from Vincenzo Torriani to the Giro d’Italia and to the entire cycling world.

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