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Reappearance of brutal climb in race after half a century follows efforts of fans to get it resurfaced

Cycling photographer Jered Gruber has turned his hand to video for the first time, and the result is a glimpse at what lies in store for the riders taking part in the Giro di Lombardia tomorrow when the final Monument of the season heads up the imposing Muro di Sormano for the first time in half a century.

With an average gradient of 17 per cent and ramps hitting 27 per cent in places, the climb, which comes around two thirds of the way through the 251 kilometre race from Lecco to Bergamo, is likely to provide some of the most dramatic moments of tomorrow’s race – it may not determine the winner, but it will certainly end some hopes.

As Gruber’s film, interspersed with quotes from legends including Gino Bartali that are translations of those stencilled on the road itself shows, riders will have no excuse for not knowing how far up the 1.9 kilometre climb they are – the distance covered has been painted on the road surface every few metres.

Watch out for some top wheelie action a minute into the video – we’re not sure anyone will be in the mood to try and pull one tomorrow, however.

Muro di Sormano from Jered Gruber on Vimeo.

The Giro di Lombardia - or simply, Il Lombardia as organisers RCS have now rebranded it - incorporated the climb in three editions between 1960 and 1962 and its inclusion by race director Vincenzo Torriani provoked a huge amount of controversy.

By the third year, coachloads of fans would turn up with the sole aim of trying to push their favourite riders to the top; many others were forced simply to get off their bikes and walk.

The reappearance of the climb in this year’s race reflects a labour of love on the part of cycling fans similar to that which has helped preserve the pave of Paris-Roubaix.

Having fallen into such a state of disrepair that a road bike couldn’t be ridden up it, lobbying by local fans managed to secure a grant from the regional government and the road was not only resurfaced, but also covered in stencils that evoke its topography, history, and the local fauna and flora. What’s more, it’s closed to motor traffic.

You can download a PDF for the brochure for tomorrow’s race, which includes full details of the route, here.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

24 comments

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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This is why us lesser mortals have triple chainsets. Note that the man walking down towards the end of the clip was having trouble keeping balance.

I do hope all that white paint doesn't make it too slippy tomorrow.

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Tripod16 [159 posts] 4 years ago
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Was that guy carrying pieces of his bike down with him?

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cavasta [216 posts] 4 years ago
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Excellent video. Beautiful, inspiring, defiant.

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 4 years ago
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JohnS wrote:

I do hope all that white paint doesn't make it too slippy tomorrow.

I'm not an expert, but I think I read somewhere that the paint they use for stencils like this doesn't have the same slippery properties as the more industrial stuff they use for road markings (still wincing at poor Pinotti's crash in the worlds TT).

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jeredgruber [4 posts] 4 years ago
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Thanks a lot for the kind words!

The road was wet yesterday, but the paint wasn't slippery at all, so that shouldn't be a problem. The wet, fallen leaves, however, could make for a little slippage.

Very interested to see what the road looks like packed with tifosi. Should be really cool.

Just finished the pictures from yesterday - have a look, if you like!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/smashred/sets/72157631641772594/

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andyspaceman [246 posts] 4 years ago
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I'm really impressed with whoever has done those road markings. I guess that being closed to traffic there's a bit more freedom in terms of what you can actually paint on the ground, but nice to see a formal contribution to the heritage of the sport.

Was that a local government, or is it a private road?

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lolol [199 posts] 4 years ago
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it might be a bit like being the star wars title sequence

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 4 years ago
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great video, great climb! must do it before I die .. mind you, looking at those gradients I'll probably die doing it!

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mooseman [87 posts] 4 years ago
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Oh, that's beautiful.

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Petethepump [28 posts] 4 years ago
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OMG Thats a work of ART. I just love all the detail on the road. I wish our councils allowed such wording on some of the famous climbs in the UK. But that said where I ride in the Chilterns it would probably just depress me on a ride. "How steep is this !!!" PTP.

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ragtag [218 posts] 4 years ago
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Petethepump wrote:

OMG Thats a work of ART.

Totally agree. That really is awesome.

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notfastenough [3709 posts] 4 years ago
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Cool. Imagine being able to include that in the club run!

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notfastenough [3709 posts] 4 years ago
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I hadn't realised that the road markings are at every metre of elevation, which when you look at how close together they are on this stretch, just make the thought of climbing it downright daunting:

//farm9.staticflickr.com/8310/8032370902_6e846088b6.jpg)

EDIT: Thanks Jered for posting the link to Flickr, I hope you don't mind me linking to the pic above.

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BigBear63 [80 posts] 4 years ago
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17% avg & 25% max for 2Km?  19 Plus it looks very narrow so the Tifosi will create a cauldron of noise.

Reminiscent of the final 3Kms of this years Vuelta on Stage 16 up the Cuitu Negru though with more traditional tight alpine hairpins. Watching Purito, Valverde & Contador go up the Cuito Negru, at what was a snails pace for pro riders(apparently about 8mph!!  13 ), was awesome. The Muro di Sormano will definitely cause massive problems for the peloton.

Super video BTW  41 41

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Mat Brett [626 posts] 4 years ago
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That looks brutal! Great vid Jered.

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keith roberts [204 posts] 4 years ago
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love it! looks like a killer climb. great video chap.

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mogrim [50 posts] 4 years ago
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That looks incredible, would love to ride up there!

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jugster [40 posts] 4 years ago
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Wow! Can't wait for the fireworks on it tomorrow.  4

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Abbie [59 posts] 4 years ago
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Will it be Televised?
I've just got my first road bike and a hill I can do on my mountain bike now takes 3 attempts, and thats with a triple. It is a 25%er. Has given me something to aim for!
Any Tips? Its the Llanddona beach road (Anglesey) if anyone knows it.
Beautiful Film and Photos.

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 4 years ago
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There's live coverage on British Eurosport from 3pm - which will miss this climb, and depending how quickly they're riding, could miss the Madonna del Ghisallo too (timings are all in the PDF linked at the end of the article).

However, it will be streamed live on the Gazzetta dello Sport website from 1.30pm (Italian commentary).

I'll try and remember to stick a link in the forum thread about the race once it's live.

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jugster [40 posts] 4 years ago
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The last dibbins is on Eurosport this afternoon from 3pm I think after highlights of last week's World Championships. Then highlights at 7pm. Unless you live in Italy then it's probably on from start to finish!  1

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jugster [40 posts] 4 years ago
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Yeah not the best timing by British Eurosport  2 and I guess the 'highlights' will just be the last hour of coverage lifted straight without the distraction of any kind of editing.  7http://www.gazzetta.it/Ciclismo/28-09-2012/domani-diretta-video-telecron...

Cheers Simon for the heads up.:)

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formereve [61 posts] 4 years ago
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Abbie wrote:

I've just got my first road bike and a hill I can do on my mountain bike now takes 3 attempts, and thats with a triple. It is a 25%er. Has given me something to aim for! Any Tips? Its the Llanddona beach road (Anglesey) if anyone knows it.

Sit in ya seat and grind it.  19

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Simon E [2778 posts] 3 years ago
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Abbie wrote:

I've just got my first road bike and a hill I can do on my mountain bike now takes 3 attempts, and thats with a triple. It is a 25%er. Has given me something to aim for!
Any Tips? Its the Llanddona beach road (Anglesey) if anyone knows it.

Abbie, I only spotted this just now when posting a link to the article in a forum thread about the Muro.

Yes I do, have only driven up/down there to date. There are 3 steep roads with double arrows down to that beach. Which one are you attempting?

My suggestions are:
Warm up then get your legs ready for the effort with a few 30-second sprints.
Stay seated but don't grind away in a bigger gear and leave it too late to change down.
Sometimes I find climbs a little easier by sitting more on the nose of the saddle.
Breathe deeply and steadily, rhythmically. Try to fill your lungs completely down to your diaphragm each time. Try not to pant or breathe too fast.
If the gradient eases a little don't immediately change up and push, use it as a bit of a rest so you're ready for the next steep bit.
Keep telling yourself that it's not a long one, try only thinking getting over the stretch of road immediately in front of you.
If getting up it in one go is too much then keep trying, see if you can get further before your first dab, eventually you'll manage to clean it.

You may have inadvertantly presented me with a challenge too.

Anyone in the UK looking for hills to climb should get hold of Simon Warren's 100 Climbs:
http://road.cc/content/review/21046-100-greatest-cycling-climbs-simon-wa...
and its sequel:
http://road.cc/content/image/52566-another-100-cycling-climbs-simon-warren

As I went to post this I remember that Tejvan writes helpful tips on his blog, and sure enough there's one on climbing hills (he's a bit of a demon uphill, so there may be more):
http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/blog/668/cycling/tips-for-cycling-up-hills/
Lots of other good stuff there too.