The Stelvio Pass is mythology, it is epic and poetry, it is the history of cycling and, in particular, of the Giro d’Italia. The Corsa Rosa has tackled it 13 times, the first being in 1953, when Fausto Coppi overtook Hugo Koblet and turned the Giro upside down; and the last in 2020, the year of Covid, when Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley dropped the Maglia Rosa Wilco Kelderman, proving to be the strongest in that edition.
But more often than not, the Stelvio has been placed in the middle of the stage, perhaps in the second part, to serve as a springboard for GC action, with the finish line usually located in the towns of Bormio, Merano, Livigno or Aprica. Only four times in the history of the Giro has the stage finish been placed at the top of this impressive mountain.
The first was in 1965: the stage was initially supposed to finish in the town of Solda, but weather conditions dictated a finish on nearby Stelvio. That stage was raced to the limit, the snow kept falling and an avalanche blocked the road 300 metres from the finish, with the riders forced to climb over it bike in hand. A decision was made to stop the time at 400 metres from the finish and Graziano Battistini took stage win. That was also the edition that featured the first Cima Coppi, which was indeed the Stelvio.
Instead, in 1972, the summit finish was 100% part of the plans and the winner was a formidable climber by the name of José Manuel Fuente, who attacked by pushing a truly impossible pace, gaining two minutes on Eddy Merckx, who was nevertheless firmly in the Maglia Rosa. That finish was repeated in 1975, as the final stage, with the exciting head-to-head between the Maglia Rosa Fausto Bertoglio and rival Francisco Gauna Galdós, which ended with the Spaniard winning the stage and the Italian triumphing in the general classification.
The last one was in 2012, featuring the splendid solo performance of Thomas De Gendt, who attacked on the Mortirolo and then overtook Damiano Cunego and Mikel Nieve on the Stelvio, moving up in the general classification to 3rd place, which earned him the final podium in Milan.
This year’s Giro Next Gen will therefore add another story to the “arrivals atop the Stelvio” chapter, but this time glory will be taken by a very young, perhaps unheard of, new champion. Whoever that athlete will be, one thing is for sure: there is no better way to make a name for himself than winning on this legendary peak!