Veneto

THE ASCENTS OF THE 100TH GIRO: THE MONTE GRAPPA FROM THE CAUPO SIDE

Start

Caupo (BL)

Finish

Cima Grappa (TV)

Distance

29km

Total vertical climb

1.540 metri

Maximum altitude

1.620 metri

Maximum gradient

12%

Medium gradient

6%

On Saturday 27th May the Giro 100 scales the Monte Grappa, a massive Alpine peak closely associated with historical events during the First World War. Today a huge Military Memorial Monument stands on it and preserves the memory of the dead soldiers.

 

It rears up like a lonely giant in an area where cycling is practically a religion (the headquarters of Selle Italia is less than 30 km away). Monte Grappa is the last obstacle along this hundredth edition of the Giro d’Italia. The Grappa mountain can be climbed up using 5 different routes, but if the Caupo ascent, chosen for the 20th stage of the 2017 race, isn’t the hardest, it is perhaps the most popular.

Extremely testing in terms of length and elevation gain (respectively 29 km and 1,500 m), it never really becomes nasty and can be ridden right up to the top. This is also due to several counterslopes which mitigate the incline.

The climb

The climb kicks in just past the little town of Caupo on very regular slopes of about 8% with only one severe hairpin bend at 12%. The thick shrubbery provides a little relief along this stretch as it offers some welcome shade and cool.

The following 5 km are not really difficult as halfway up the incline the twists lessen. But the following 8-km stretch is possibly the most treacherous. It is certainly the most varied with sudden uphill sections which reach 12%, and give way to long plateaus and even a downhill slope of a couple of km which brings the pack to 1,400 metres in altitude at the town of Forcelletto.

The last stretch, which isn’t too tough (7% at the most), leads to 1,620 metres prior to going back down again for about 100 and tackling the last 2 km. These are quite challenging and take them up to the peak where the setting is picturesquely lunar. Overall, it is a pretty punishing ascent which has something of the French Ventoux mountain climb.

The Great War

Needless to say, no-one can get all the way up here without taking a look at the Military Memorial where the bones of almost 13,000 soldiers lie. All men who gave their lives in the 3 bloody battles fought and won against the Austrians on the summit of this mountain during the First World War.

Just to drive home the historical importance of this old battlefield, here is a brief account we found on the site of the Ministry of the Defence which sums it up admirably: “When the Italian front was broken at Caporetto, Monte Grappa became the first mountain barrier between Brenta and Piave. After a dramatic retreat, the Italian troupes reached the mountain crushed and exhausted, but they nevertheless made all efforts to build a new defence barrier. Had the Austro-Hungarian army managed to get through, they would have swarmed out onto the Venetian plains.

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