There’s a new route up fabled Italian climb, the Mortirolo – and the toughest section, where the gradient hits 25 per cent has been named after Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador, who had cameras following him as he tackled the ascent last weekend.
Located in northern Lombardy, the Mortirolo, widely reckoned to be one of the toughest climb in pro cycling, has featured 11 times in the Giro d’Italia since its first inclusion in 1990, with the ascent starting each time from Mazzo de Valtellina other than in 2012 when it began at Tovo di Sant’Agata.
Topping out at 1,852 metres, since the death in 2004 of Marco Pantani, winner of a stage to Aprica a decade earlier that featured the climb, the first rider over the top receives the Cima Pantani prize in his honour.
The Spaniard was in Italy for the two day RhxDUE event, sponsored by his team’s eyewear supplier, which saw 1.500 amateur cyclists join him and his Contador Foundation Under-23 Team to take on the Gavia and the Mortirolo on successive days.
The local council in Monno has resurfaced a section of the road and called it Recta Contador – the Contador Straight – in the rider’s honour.
He has confirmed he is riding the Giro and the Tour de France next year, and rumours are that both the Gavia and the Mortirolo will feature in the Italian race. Here he shares his thoughts on riding the latter from a new direction.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider also spoke to his team’s bike sponsor, Specialized, which also supplies its helmets and the shoes he wears, about his 2014 season, interrupted by the leg injury he sustained at the Tour de France, a race he says he trained incredibly hard for, insisting he was in the best form of his life.
Contador returned in time for the Vuelta and won his home Grand Tour to the delight of his legions of fans in Spain, and aims to end his year with the late season Italian races, Milano-Torino and La Lombardia.
He also says why he considers the new Specialized Tarmac to be the best bike in the peloton.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.