Passo Manghen

Until the introduction of the Mortirolo in 1990 the Pass Manghen was widely regarded as the toughest climb ever to be used in the Giro, a reputation it well and truly deserves.

The Passo Manghen is a relatively late edition to the great roads of the Dolomites having been built as late as 1958 over the route of an old mule track. 18 years later it then made its tempestuous debut in the Giro d’Italia largely because the final 12 kilometres were still unpaved. The great Eddy Merckx proclaimed that it was more ‘fit for cyclo cross than a road race’ and he was being polite.

The eventual winner of that year’s Giro, Felice Gimondi, proclaimed that race organiser Vincenzo Torriani “deserved to be truncheoned’ for including it. Such was the uproar the climb didn’t appear on the route again until 1996 when thankfully the upper slopes had been paved, however even though now sealed under a layer of tarmac they are still ferociously steep and to this day present one of the hardest challenges a rider can face.

Details

Length
22.5km
Base Elevation
388m
Summit Elevation
2,027m
Elevation Gain
1,690m
Average Gradient
7.5 %
Max Gradient
18 %
Suggested Gearing
34/28

The Climb

This is a real tough one, a proper challenge into unpopulated and quiet mountains so make sure you are well fueled and mentally and physically ready for battle. Leaving Borgo Valsugana you head up through Telve on a moderate gradient to begin by passing various villages as you wind through the dark forest.

Although there is the odd spike in the slope there is nothing too demanding until you reach the infamous final seven kilometres. Set almost entirely on a constant gradient of between 10 and 15% on an impossibly narrow road they twist through a multitude of hairpins on a merciless journey into wild isolation.

Points of interest

B. V. di Lourdes Cave

B. V. di Lourdes Cave

Amongst the curiosities in the town of Telve at the base can be found the Grotta della B. V. di Lourdes, a reproduction of the world famous Grotta della Madonna in Lourdes.

Manghen Meaning

Manghen Meaning

The name Manghen comes from the word locals called winches or hoists for lifting logs as this pass was built to transport the timber from the heavily forested slopes.

Malga Baessa

Malga Baessa

The last place for refreshment before the summit is the Ristorante Malga Baessa which sits in an idyllic setting around 8 kilometres from the top.

Rifugio Passo Manghen

Rifugio Passo Manghen

On the northern flank, just 300 metres from the summit stands the Rifugio Passo Manghen where you can eat or lie down after the ordeal of reaching the top.

Monte Ziolera

Monte Ziolera

Standing high above the pass at an altitude of 2478 metres is the triangular peak of Monte Ziolera which is popular with walkers as it is possible to scale it without specialist equipment.

“When you get to the summit you look down at what you’ve ridden up and you wonder how you’ve done it without an ice axe.”

Gilberto Simoni
Two time Giro Winner

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