Fausto Coppi at Giro d'Italia

Fausto Coppi at Giro d'Italia

Fausto Coppi at Giro d'Italia

Published : 10/24/2017 17:44:49
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The Pordoi pass occupies pride of place in the most yellowed pages of the history of the Giro d’Italia. Today the climb is not among the most difficult, and even an honest amateur cyclist is able to deal with it without a much difficulty. In the days of Coppi and Bartali, however, the summit of Pordoi was difficult to overcome, a mountain that challenged racers: the dirt road, the heavy bikes, and the lack of technical assistance made the climb difficult and selective. It’s no coincidence that the Giro d’Italia would almost always include the Pordoi in those years, and it was here some stages remained unforgettable.

Geographically, Pordoi is located in the Dolomites, between the Marmolada and the Sella Group. The pass can be reached from Canazei, the slope usually faced when the summit is the finishing point, or from Arabba. Pordoi is tied hand in glove with the name of the "Campionissimo" (the greatest champion), Fausto Coppi, who won five times here in memorable fashion. Yet the world premiere of the Pordoi in the Giro, in 1940, was a very hard day for the young Coppi. Just twenty years old, the champion of Castellania had just started that Giro as domestique of Gino Bartali in Legnano Team, but the race turned the tables and the pink jersey was handed to Coppi. But in the Dolomites, on a cold and snowy day, Coppi found himself in trouble just tackling the Pordoi. Bartali was to help him in a story told years later by "Ginettaccio" (Bartali himself). Coppi seemed willing to surrender and retire, but Bartali hit him with fresh snow and harsh words, calling him "acquaiolo" (water carrier), which meant a weak, ill-tempered person in Tuscan dialect. Eventually Coppi retained the pink jersey and won his first Giro d’Italia. Then history saw Coppi come first five times at Pordoi pass. His most historic sprint was in 1949, when he climbed Pordoi completely alone to win the stage after a long breakaway.

It’s no coincidence that Pordoi is the summit that has several times been the "Cima Coppi" of the Giro d’Italia. The establishment of this award, reserved for the racer who comes first on the highest point of the Tour, is dated to 1965. Since then the Pordoi, with its 2,239 metres, has been the Cima Coppi on 13 occasions. Since 1990 the Pordoi has been proposed as the seat of arrival several times, confirming it as an incomparable natural theatre for cycling: its shape and width, with close bends at the end, makes it a kind of stadium for cycling, where fans can enjoy long stretches of climbing.

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