The Passo del Mortirolo returns to the Giro d'Italia this year and is again expected to be one of the decisive moments of the Corsa Rosa and play a significant role in deciding who goes on to win the maglia rosa in Milan.
This year the Giro d’Italia climbs the Mortirolo from the traditional Mazzo di Valtellina side. The 11.8km climb is one of the toughest and steepest used in professional races. It has an average gradient of 10.9%. Several sectors are at 18%, with a six-kilometre middle sector climbing at a painful 12.2%.
The Mortirolo has quickly become one o the iconic climbs of the Giro d’Italia, alongside the Passo dello Stelvio, the Passo Gavia and the stunning climbs of the Dolomites.
It first featured in the Giro d’Italia in 1990. Leonardo Sierra had the honour of being the first rider over the summit on the way to winning that day’s stage. The climb also featured in the Giro d’Italia in 1991 with Franco Chioccioli replicating Sierra as the first rider over the climb and the stage winner. The Italian also claimed the overall victory.
Marco Pantani conquered the Mortirolo in 1994 as he first showed his climbing ability in a Grand Tour. He dropped race leader Evgeni Berzin and Miguel Indurain to win in Aprica and secure second overall ahead of the Spaniard.
In remembrance of Pantani, the first rider over the Mortirolo receives the special Cima Pantani prize. A monument to remember Pantani was also erected on the Mazzo di Valtellina side of the climb in 2006.
In 2006 Ivan Basso became the third rider to crest the Mortirolo and then go on to win the Giro d’Italia. The Italian also repeated the Mortirolo maglia rosa double in 2010.
The Mortirolo last featured in the Giro d’Italia in 2012 when Oliver Zaugg lead over the climb after reaching the summit via the Tovo di Sant'Agata side for the first time. The stage was known as the 'Giro 2012 Fan Stage' with the route chosen as the result of a fan poll, which asked them to pick the "climb-that-can-not-be-missed".
This year the Mortirolo features on the 174km 16th stage from Pinzolo to Aprica on Tuesday May 26, immediately after the second rest day of the race. The peloton will have already climbed the category two Campo Carlo Magno and Passo del Tonale climbs and the category three climb in Aprica before starting the ascent of the Passo del Mortirolo. The summit is just 12.2km away from the finish in Aprica.
This special Passo del Mortirolo photo gallery looks back at the racing on the climb, capturing the passion of the tifosi who cheer on the riders from the roadside and the pain and suffering of the riders.