After a gap of 50 years, the fearsome Muro di Sormano returns to the route of the Tour of Lombardy in 2012. The short but devastatingly steep climb is the great novelty of this year’s race, which takes place on September 29.
Although less than two kilometres in length, the Muro di Sormano has an average gradient of 15% but features sections in excess of 25%. When the climb featured in three editions of the race in the 1960s, many riders were famously forced to get off and walk.
The 2012 Tour of Lombardy (or Il Lombardia) starts from Bergamo as the race pays homage to the career of Felice Gimondi in the year of his 70th birthday, and as was the case in 2011, the finish is again at Lecco, on the shores of Lake Como.
As ever, the race proposes an undulating route interspersed with some stiff climbs. The first major obstacle is the Valcava (9.6km at 9%), which comes after 90 kilometres of racing, before the peloton tackles the rolling roads around the Colle Brianza. The Muro di Sormano features after 165km of racing, and precedes a scenic descent to the shore of Lake Como.
The finale includes the traditional ascent of the Madonna di Ghisallo (8.5km at 6.5%) and the stiff climb to Villa Vergano (3.3km at 7.5%), which last year served as the springboard for Oliver Zaugg’s surprise win.
The pre-race intrigue, however, will focus largely on the Muro di Sormano, which was first introduced in 1960 after organiser Vincenzo Torriani feared that the classic was no longer producing winners worthy of its great name.
Ercole Baldini clocked a record time of 9:24 for the climb on its last appearance in 1962, when the race was won by Johannes de Roo. Baldini would later admit that his time had been somewhat skewed, however. “Having lots of fans meant getting lots of pushes… and I had lots of fans,” he confessed to Torriani, as Daniel Friebe notes in his book Mountain High.
As well as bridging a 50-year gap with the reintroduction of the Muro di Colmano, the 2012 edition of the Tour of Lombardy also sees the race shift to a new date on the calendar, just one week after the world championships road race in Valkenburg.
The 18 WorldTour teams will be on the start line in Bergamo, along with seven wildcards, who were announced in January: Acqua & Sapone, Androni Giocattoli, Colnago-CSF Inox, Colombia-Coldeportes, Farnese Vini-Selle Italia, Argos-Shimano and Utensilnord Named.