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Slope always in double figures: Brocon Pass as never seen before


We are in the third week of the Giro d’Italia 2024. Any misstep could prove fatal, and in the 159-kilometre Selva di Val Gardena-Passo Brocon pitfalls are literally around every corner. The riders will have to tackle five Alpine ascents between Veneto and Trentino, an area where some of the deadliest climbs of the country are located. The peloton will ride on roads that have shaped the history of this sport, but will finish the stage, number 17, on an unprecedented and tougher side of the Brocon Pass, that of the Val Malene.

The stage provides almost no flat ground to play with, as the road climbs from the start on Passo Sella (2nd cat., 8.9 km at 7.4%), followed by the historic Passo Rolle (1st cat., 19.8 km at 4.8%), Passo Gobbera (3rd cat., 5.8 km at 5.8%), and the first ascent towards Passo Brocon (2nd cat., 13.3 km at 6.5%), this time from the east. The riders then fly downhill to tackle the Brocon again, this time from south and west (1st. cat.).

Let’s not be fooled by the average gradient though. The climb on this side is nothing like the prior one: it starts out as a false-flat, continues with 4 kilometres at 5.4%, then ups it up a notch with 2 kilometres at 8.5% only to intensify further with 3 kilometres at 10.5%. The last 2 kilometres flatten out to slightly over 5%, while the entire finish climb amounts to 11.9 kilometres and the average gradient sits at 6.5%. In other words, this will be prime ground for another showdown between the GC men.

The Brocon Pass is a much-appreciated and long-awaited return, as all appearances of this Alpine pass separating Trentino Alto Adige from Veneto date back as far as the 1950s and 1960s. The first time was in 1955, the second in 1956, on that day Charly Gaul cleared off through the snow towards the summit of Monte Bondone, and the Brocon was positioned as the stage’s penultimate climb.

The last time was in 1967: the Maglia Rosa Jacques Anquetil struggled on the Brocon and was then forced to catch up with his rivals in order to save his leadership. He succeeded, but was forced to give up the very next day under the attacks of Felice Gimondi.

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