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The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. Third rule of Fight Club: Someone yells “Stop!”, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: Only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: One fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: No shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: Fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.
Replace Fight Club with Passo di Giau and you’ll have an excellent description of what awaits you. Because in our Maratona film, Giau is Tyler Durden, the protagonist and “inventor” of Fight Club.
The first rule of Passo Giau is: you do not talk about Passo Giau. If you’re walking around the village in the days before the race, you’ll find that no one wants to talk about Giau because everyone fears it more than any other climb in the Maratona.
The second rule, then, is: you do not talk about Passo Giau.
The third rule of Passo Giau: if someone yells “stop!”, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over. There’s no shame in giving in for a moment while climbing Passo Giau. You won’t be the first and you won’t be the last.
Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Just you and the climb. The other 9,000 don’t count. It’s between you and the mountain.
Fifth rule: one fight at a time. Divide it kilometer by kilometer; find reference points. Play psychological tricks on yourself, otherwise it’s over.
Sixth rule: the fights are bare knuckle. No shirt, no shoes, no weapons. In the sense that you can’t cheat and there’s no help. Giau is an honest and pitiless judge of your preparation.
Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. We’ll see what happens on Strava, but on Giau at the Maratona you have to take the time you need, without overdoing it. Otherwise you’ll pay a very high price.
And the eighth and final rule: if you’re on the first ramps of Passo Giau, you have to fight!
The last rule in particular is always, infernally, true. Because Giau is a 9.9-kilometer climb with a 9.3% average gradient. But the first 2 kilometers are really brutal. This is how Giau welcomes you. It’s like if someone invited you to their home and, after opening the door with a smile, welcomed you with a couple of slaps. This is a bit how it feels when you attack Giau.
The progression is fairly constant, with the gradient almost always in double digits and very few opportunities to catch your breath. There will be four bridges, 20 meters long each, but you’ll probably look for a bit of relief thanks to those. And then more than 25 switchbacks to the top, where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful sights in the Dolomites. And it’s even better when you realize that the climb is really over.
Twice the Cima Coppi in the Giro, it’s been featured only eight times in total in the corsa rosa. Perhaps less than it deserves — this climb that, for us, with its difficulty and beauty, is one of the best climbs in Italy.
Returning to our film, Passo di Giau is Tyler Durden. Also because, if you think about it, like Tyler, Giau in reality does not exist. It’s just a figment of our imagination, a “monster” that stories (like this) conjure up for us but that in the end we always manage to tame. Try thinking about this while you’re climbing it. Maybe everything will be easier.
Or you could think about how there’s one of the best feed zones of the entire Maratona at the top. Choose whichever motivation you prefer.
By day, Neo is a computer programmer and a model citizen; by night, he’s a hacker who exploits his knowledge illicitly. The encounter with Trinity and the choice of the red pill reveal the truth to him and expose to him the true structure of the world: the Matrix.
The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room.
On the day of the Maratona dles Dolomites, Passo Sella is a Neo who has definitely chosen the red pill. Because Sella is perhaps the symbolic pass, the “model” pass of the Dolomites, but on July 7 it will turn into one of the most dangerous points of the entire race route. One of those points that can really leave a mark.
5.5 kilometers, average gradient 7.9%. Points at 12%. It’s not a long climb, but the gradients are much steeper than those on the first two passes. The rest of the year, all you need to do is take it a bit easy here; in the Maratona it’s a completely different story.
On the day of the Maratona, Sella comes after Campolongo and Pordoi, two passes that can be climbed without excessive effort in a decent gear. But especially after the descent of the Pordoi, which is completely in the shade, the first steep ramps can put you to the test.
The key points: two straightaways in the central part and the three final switchbacks, which are steeper. For those looking to race the Maratona, the Sella could really create a selection in the group. For those who want to enjoy the day, it’s important to take the first ramps in a fairly easy gear and warm up gradually, remembering to save some energy for the final steep pitches.
Passo Sella is not only the Maratona dles Dolomites but also pure cycling history. It has been climbed 17 times in the Giro, and the first to win on it among the professionals was a certain Gino Bartali. Three times it was also the Cima Coppi, most recently in 1998, when Marco Pantani was first to summit. It was the year in which, shortly afterward, he would complete the Giro d’Italia–Tour de France double, the last in the history of cycling.
Passo Sella is Neo, but it’s kind of the Matrix itself as well. Because if there’s one element that’s everywhere, that’s around us and always present in the Maratona, it’s the Sella group. Because the first 52 kilometers of the Maratona (and the second passage over Campolongo) are a long loop around these mountains. Always visible, always present. When you do the Maratona, you look at them from every angle, trying to let yourself succumb to their beauty in order to forget the effort.
The Sella group is like the Matrix. Pervasive. And we’re immensely grateful for this.
If you want to climb Passo Sella with the right soundtrack, here the playlist of The Matrix on Spotify.
Patience and strength are the key characteristics of “The Bride” in Kill Bill, along with the beauty and gracefulness of Uma Thurman.
Patience, because the pursuit of revenge against Bill is long and meticulous. One by one she eliminates the members of the DVAS until the meeting with Bill. Strength (and technique), because the Bride has been trained by the best in the world and knows how to fight like few others. Beauty, because — there’s no need to explain why.
In the Maratona film, Passo Pordoi is the Bride in Kill Bill. A climb that is patient, strong and beautiful like few others. A climb of 9.2 kilometers with 638 meters of elevation gain. Average gradient 6.9%, maximum 10%. The start is from Arabba, and the windy road features many tight switchbacks one after the other. Almost a snake. A Black Mamba, just like the Bride is called.
Pordoi is a patient climb, because it’s steady. It’s one of those climbs that doesn’t seem hard but that can do some serious damage if it’s attacked head on without thinking. Just like a katana fight with the Bride.
Pordoi is a strong climb, because despite the not-extreme gradients it never gives you a moment of respite. Just like the Bride leaves no escape for those who try to stop her in her quest for revenge.
Pordoi is a beautiful climb, because above Arabba a wide valley opens, allowing you to look down and see the twisting road you’ve already come up, and Sass Pordoi, the southernmost peak of the Sella group, is always in view.
It’s a climb that you’ll face very early in the morning, most likely between 7 and 8:30, when you’re still full of energy and the adrenaline of the start. It’s a climb to be enjoyed all in one go without letting yourself get carried away. Find your rhythm, a good cadence, and it will be one of the most beautiful climbs you’ve ever ridden. If you know your power values and heart rate, try not to exceed your threshold. The route is still long — better save some energy for the kilometers still to come.
Pordoi is the climb that, throughout the history of the Giro d’Italia, has most frequently been the Cima Coppi. The pass you’ll ride over, at 2,239 meters, has been the highest point of the corsa rosa 13 times, and it has featured in the race 40 times.
Though many champions are closely linked to this climb, Fausto Coppi is certainly the most representative of Passo Pordoi. The granfondo won’t be the right occasion, but if you happen to be doing a reconnaissance ride in the days beforehand, you’ll be able to visit the monument in his honor that was erected right at the top of the pass.
A patient climb, a strong climb, a beautiful climb. A climb on which you’ll have to play your part in exactly the same way to continue the script of your Maratona dles Dolomites film.
If you want to climb Passo Pordoi with the right soundtrack, here the playlist of Kill Bill vol.1 on Spotify.
There are many types of events that you can participate in with a road bike. There are granfondos, sportives, 24-hour team races, randonnées and many other formulas. The only limit is the organizers’ imagination.
Then there’s the Maratona dles Dolomites, which, to call it a granfondo is, at the very least, reductive. Like describing Chris Froome as an ordinary bike messenger. (By the way, Chris, recover quickly! We’re eager to see you out on the bike again.)
The Maratona dles Dolomites is a granfondo just because it somehow had to be placed somewhere. Due to the distance and the fact that there’s a ranking, it’s been put in that category. But there’s much more to it, and the competitive element is probably the least important of all the aspects to be experienced during this event.
The atmosphere, the incredible scenery, the roads closed to traffic from the first to the last participant, and the hospitality of Alta Badia are the actors, with the mountains and the climbs playing the leading roles in an Oscar-deserving script that every cyclist should take part at least once in their life.
A film like the Maratona has a perfect plot, with a mixture of action, adventure and romance — at least when the actor taking part is perfectly familiar with the stars (the climbs) that he or she will be acting with. Otherwise, it can be easy to find oneself in a mystery, or worse, in a horror film, which it’s difficult to see the end of.
At Castelli we know that if you’re riding the Maratona for the first time you might wonder if you’re up to the challenge, or what tactics will allow you to play your role as well as possible. But we’ve been fortunate to be part of the script for five years, and we can share our point of view on the climbs to be faced and how best to live this film-worthy experience to the fullest.
We’ll do it from now until next Sunday, when the director will turn on the camera, the clapper will shut and the 9,000 actors will be ready for this edition. The first take will be good, with mistakes forbidden. So here’s some basic information and a special script.
Our friend Ben Lowe, founder of VeloViewer, shared with us the TCX track of the Maratona with all the information needed to help you best tackle the event. You can download it here, and if you upload it to your Garmin you’ll be able to see during the race how far to the next summit, to the next feed zone or to the technical assistance point in case of need.
As for the rest, the film will be 138 kilometers long with 4,230 meters of elevation gain. The leading actors, in order of appearance:
Passo Campolongo (Ep 02)
Passo di Giau
Passo Falzarego + Valparola
In the coming days, we’ll tell you about the stars: Pordoi, Sella and Giau, as you’ve never seen them before. To learn together about their character and their history, because every climb has a soul. And it’s only by getting to really know these souls that you’ll find the necessary alchemy to best play your part in the magnificent film of the Maratona dles Dolomites.
When competing at the highest level and racing against the best you better leave no stone unturned.
The race suit is one of the few items an athlete is using for the entire race.
Get a small insight into the testing with Patrick Lange what has been going on the last couple of weeks to optimise his suit and other details of his set-up.
Patrick Lange fine-tuning his 2019 race set-up - YouTube
The last yersey – the one dedicated to stage 20 of this Giro d’Italia – is awarded today. Not because we forgot our home stage, but because we wanted to wait until the very moment we are about to ride the same route on the Sportful Dolomiti Race tomorrow. And to thank everyone who made it possible.
Among all the distinctive features of cycling, the one that totally differentiates it from most other sports — and that causes cycling fans to proudly declare that following cycling is never just a matter of sport alone — is the complete overlap between bike races and the real world they pass through.
Bike races are not held in places dedicated exclusively to them. There is no separation between the playing field of cycling and the cities where men and women live, the fields they cultivate, the mountains that reinvigorate them. By choosing the locations of everyday life as its natural setting, cycling borrows their characteristics, so that the beauty of a church, the gracefulness of a landscape or the majesty of a mountain become an integral part of the race itself, the essence of its story and its history.
Of course, the intrusion of a race like the Giro d’Italia into the corners of everyday life is not without obstacles. Interrupting the intricate routine of our city life for a day — or for the central hours of a day — requires a series of adjustments both large and small. There would be no Giro without the Giro volunteers who dedicate a significant number of their spring hours to preparing for and managing the logistical demands of the Corsa Rosa. There would be no Giro without those who take care of the places that the Giro borrows for three weeks: traffic to be redirected, barriers to be installed, finish lines to be set up and taken down. And then the roads. Roads to be repaired or cleared — as in the case of Passo Gavia, covered with snow and with workers who for days tried to make it accessible. Roads, in other cases, to be rebuilt from scratch.
Because being inside the world, accepting its hospitality to the point of blending together, means sharing its suffering as well as its beauty. The world crossed by the 20th stage of the 2019 Giro is a world that shows clear signs of its recent distress: trees dropped on each other as in a giant game of pick-up sticks, thousands of logs stacked awaiting removal, forests perforated as if by a rain of bombs. The Giro passed through a part of Italy that wind and water threatened to completely obliterate just seven months ago
The Giro, to be honest, could not even have come near the area of Passo Manghen if not for the work of those who, in record time, were able to repair the 2 kilometers of road destroyed by the deluge last fall. But the Giro, thanks to those who support it and those who love it, succeeded. It saw its climax on roads that were no longer there but that are there again, among trees that will grow back and forests that will thicken, bringing participation and hope in the best way it knows how, which it has done for 102 editions: by celebrating the places it passes through.
Cycling is a group sport: for more than half the time, you ride all together, side by side, allowing plenty of opportunity to build relationships. The “group” is even a social set, a community that keeps all the professional riders together. During a Grand Tour, though, there are days when the group does not exist: in the time trials. Stages to be faced alone, with no one to talk to except the race radio, which is useless anyway: in a time trial you ride all out and have no breath left for talking. Alone, listening only to your own legs, or at most to a few time splits. Alone, thinking, because even when you’re at maximum effort your mind doesn’t stop. You concentrate, yes, but somehow it continues to wander, or rather it pursues precisely those thoughts that help you concentrate more, that converge on the same goal. Great time trialists are not only those who know how to push hard gears for a long time but, above all, those who know how to better focus their thoughts.
Adam Hansen, an Australian rouleur and Grand Tour expert, says that during time trials you never stop thinking: in his case, about the projects he’s working on at home, or new ideas for the shoes he makes. Victor Campenaerts, who is the reigning European champion in the time trial (and holder of the hour record), thinks more specifically about the number of his pedal strokes and the possible trajectories for the turns. Chad Haga, winner of the concluding time trial of the 2019 Giro d’Italia, while pedaling through the streets of Verona — realizing immediately that he was going very fast — was thinking above all of his father.
If it weren’t for Chris Haga, Chad wouldn’t be a racer today. He would probably be a mechanical engineer. In late 2010, the current Sunweb rider had graduated and was ready to pursue a professional career when the call came from a Colorado cycling team. Uncertain about what to do, Chad asked his father, then already battling cancer, for advice. He recommended that Chad follow his dream: “The desk job will always be there.” Chris Haga died in 2016, and since then Chad has hoped to be able to dedicate a victory to him: “I knew whenever the success came, the tears would also come immediately.” In Verona, having achieved the first important success in his career, he tried to hold them back for a long time — an eternity, like his wait on the hot seat: after 22 minutes and 7 seconds of racing, more than two hours sitting and thinking. For the tears, he waited until Primož Roglič, the last specialist in the race, had finished. For the dedications, he then waited for the award-ceremony stage, which he climbed onto while pointing his two index fingers to the sky, and descended from with his face looking like a labyrinth, with the arched lines of the podium girls’ lipstick crossing the scars marking his face. Three years ago he was training with his teammates in Spain when a car driving against traffic slammed into them. Chad’s condition was the worst. Those same teammates had to step in and apply pressure to his neck to stanch the bleeding. He will always carry the mark of that afternoon on his face and in his desire to start racing again: “I didn’t want to let a ridiculous crash decide when my career would end.”
The career of Chad Haga, 31, has become that of a good domestique — and of an excellent time trialist. He came to the Giro to help Tom Dumoulin, but the Dutchman’s withdrawal forced the Sunweb riders to rethink the race. Chad staked everything on the last card, on the Verona time trial. For a week he “rested” in the group, allowing the other time trialists to get more tired than him. On the morning of the Verona stage, he reconnoitered the route, filmed it and watched it 20 times.
Legs and thoughts are not enough to make you go fast in a time trial; you need planning down to the millimeter, worthy of an engineer. “I did a perfect imitation of Dumoulin,” Chad said at the finish, drawing on his innate ability to sum things up. Because he is not only a cyclist and an engineer; he is also a pianist and above all an astute narrator of his own races, which he recaps in discerning tweet-length summaries. He was even able to summarize the end of this upended Giro and his long quest in one word: redemption.