The Sella Pass was first included in the route of the Giro way back in 1940 and has been frequently used in conjunction with the Gardena and Pordoi passes. On three occasions, in 1969, 1976 and 1998 is was also awarded the Cima Coppi (named after the great rider Fausto Coppi) which denotes the highest pass crossed by the race each year. Indeed it also nearly proved to be Coppi’s downfall during its first crossing as he struggled so much that he needed teammate Gino Bartali to stuff snow down his neck to revive him in his fight to defend the Maglia Rosa (race leaders jersey).
The pass is now maybe best known for its inclusion on the Sella Ronda, the almost impossibly perfect loop around the center of the Dolomites that also takes in the passes Pordoi, Campolongo and Gardena.
- From Plan de Gralba -
The north face of the Passo Sella starts way down the valley in Selva but it’s the section between Plan de Gralba and the junction of the Gardena pass to the summit that is famous and the part most often ridden. Dramatic from either side these final 5.4 kilometres of the northern flank are some of the most spectacular in all cycling. With the giant pinnacles of the Sass Long looming high above the smooth wide road snakes up the mountainside into a world almost beyond imagination.
Never too steep but rising to almost 11% in places the large corners flow upwards without need for hairpins to eventually summit amongst a small collection of buildings and cafes and open up yet more amazing views over the other side.
Points of interest
The Sassolungo meaning “long stone” is a kilometre wide mountain which stretches from north-west to south-east and dominates the scenery of the Passo Sella.
The Sassolungo was climbed for the first time in 1869 by climber Paul Grohmann and on its eastern wall you will find a 3 metre carved wooden Madonna by the sculptor Flavio Pancheri.
Maratona dles Dolomites
The Maratona dles Dolomites descends this side of the Pass and is frighteningly quick so if you are following that route keep your fingers close to the brakes and take care.
Passo Sella Dolomiti Mountain Resort is a hotel unique of its kind as its the only hotel in the Dolomites, situated at a height of over 2000 meters.
Sellaronda Bike Day
One day a year the pass is closed to traffic together with the Passes Pordoi, Campolongo and Gardena for the annual Sellaronda Bike Day.
The Passo Sella has been the Cima Coppi, the highest point on the Giro d’Italia route three times, in 1969, 1976 and 1998.
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