Giro di Lombardia hits Muro di Sormano tomorrow after 50-year break - Jered Gruber films the climb
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.
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.