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Oropa, history of Italian cycling


The Giro d’Italia had not scheduled an uphill finish on day two since 1989. In that case it was Mount Etna, while this year it will be the turn of the Santuario di Oropa, confirming 2024 as one of the toughest Great Departures ever. The route goes from San Francesco al Campo to the Sanctuary of Oropa for 161 km, featuring the climbs towards Oasi Zegna, with its splendid blossoming of rhododendrons (pink, of course), and Nelva. Still, the tastiest dish is obviously the final climb of Oropa, with its 11.8 km at 6.2%.

The Oropa climb is undeniably linked to Marco Pantani, all the more so this year as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of that triumphant ride which elevated the Pirate even further into myth and legend. We all remember the Pirate’s jaw-dropping comeback ride after being forced to stop for a chain jump just as all his rivals were launched towards the summit. “I didn’t think I had caught them all…” he said after crossing the finish line without raising his arms.  

The Corsa Rosa has crossed the finish line here a total of six times: the first dates back to 1963 with Vito Taccone’s success, while the second only came 30 years later. In the penultimate stage of the 1993 Giro d’Italia, won by the breakaway rider Massimo Ghirotto, Pëtr Ugrumov decided to attack the Maglia Rosa Miguel Indurain on the way up to Oropa, putting the Navarro champion in serious trouble. At the end, Indurain managed to limit the damage and retain his leadership symbol, but the effort was such that, shortly after the finish line, he had to hold on to the barriers to avoid falling off his bike.

Oropa was last tackled in 2017, with Tom Dumoulin and Nairo Quintana fighting for glory. The mighty Dutchman was in the Maglia Rosa and that day he not only managed to fend off the much-expected attacks from the Colombian, but also went on to win the stage, thanks to a lethal progression in the last kilometre that crushed the resistance of his rival. Dumoulin, Quintana and Nibali put up a great fight stage after stage, but in the end, it was the Butterfly of Maastricht who took home the Trofeo Senza Fine.

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