The organisers of the Giro d’Italia soon realised that there were few better ways to showcase the Dolomites than via the Passo Pordoi. Linking Canazei in the Val di Fassa with Arabba in Val Cordevole it sits in the shadow of the mighty Sasso Pordi, or the terrazza delle Dolomiti (the terrace of the Dolomites).
The pass became synonymous with the late great Fausto Coppi who was first across its summit no less than five times along his way to winning the race a total of four times. Coppi first arrived on its slopes in 1940 crossing with his rival Gino Bartali whilst leading the race at his first attempt and at the summit there stands a monument in his honour.
- From Pian Schiavaneis -
Both sides of the Pordoi are spectacular to ride but the eastern flank from Canazei is just that little bit more dazzling. Rising out of town the hairpins start right away and there are a total of 28 to negotiate on your way to the summit. With a gradient that never exceeds 9% the slopes of the Pordoi never hurt your legs too much and for the majority of its ascent stick to a comfortable 6-7% slope. After a flourish of seven hairpins the road then straightens out, squirms around a little more before arriving at the turn for the Passo Sella.
Heading west at the junction you continue to trawl through the thick forest in search of the final series of bends and in the last two kilometre are no less than 12 tight corners which assures a dramatic finish to the most famous of the Dolomite’s climbs.
Points of interest
Built in 1904, the Passo Pordoi is a 20th century engineering masterpiece and has no less than 61 hairpin bends between Canazei and Arabba.
Standing to the east of the summit is an ossuary containing the remains of 8,582 German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers who died on its slopes during the First World War.
The great Fausto Coppi or Il Campionissimo (the Champion of Champions) became synonymous with this climb and a monument to his achievements stands at the summit of the Pass.
The Passo Pordoi has been the Cima Coppi (the highest point of the race) in the Giro d’Italia a total of 13 times since its first inclusion in 1940.
In 1962 a cable car was constructed to allow travellers to reach the Sass Pordoi and its plateau-like summit, it gains 700m of altitude in just 4 minutes.
“I was first over the summit there five times, maybe because whenever I was in that area I could breathe beautifully....”
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