The Rifugio Bonetta, at the summit of the Passo di Gavia, is not only a good place to have a cappuccino and a plate of pasta, but there you can also admire stunning photos of heroic passages of the Giro d'Italia. Most of the pass road was a second-rate quality, unpaved "track" when the Giro passed the Gavia for the first time in 1960. Given the time of the year usually end May / early June the cyclists often had to face snow, blizzards and freezing cold temperatures. This former military road was not paved until 1986, when the Tour de France incorporated the Gavia in one of its Italian stages.
When we climbed the north slope the Gavia was still paved, but huge scrapers were transforming half of the width of the road into a trench (see photo above). For unknown reasons Italian engineers have decided that a pipeline had to be constructed from somewhere to elsewhere. It is to be hoped that the Giro is soon coming back to the Gavia, that's probably the best guarantee for a proper road restoration.
Apart from the scrapers, the Passo
di Gavia is wonderful pass to climb. The first part, from Bormio
to Sta Catarina is a wide, steadily rising road through the Valfurva.
The more challenging part starts directly after leaving Sta Catarina.
The road climbs rapidly with a number of hairpin bends into the
Valle di Gavia. The toughest stretches can be found in the first
half of this side valley. The south slope of the Gavia seems to
be a bit more rugged. We have to do the Ponte di Legno side another
Profile and more images.
The gradient profile of the Passo di Gavia (north slope) has been made by Ward Oud in Matlab, based on the read out of his Ciclomaster HAC 4 cycle computer. Click here to download a more detailed version in pfd format (12 k).