It can’t have come as much of a surprise to Gianni Moscon when he checked his email inbox last night and saw the dreaded ‘Uh oh!’ message lingering.
The Italian had set a pretty imperious time in training up the Passo del Mortirolo of 48-40, in a ride that finished with an ascent of the Stelvio Pass as well. Glutton for punishment much?
The 11.4km, average 11 per cent gradient segment of the Mortirolo on Strava has over 14,000 riders’ times on it, but it’s inclusion in the Giro d’Italia this year on stage 16 saw an entirely new top-nine form (with Moscon in 10th), and a new KOM set.
The Giro riders didn’t have it all that easy either; rain battered the top of the steep climb with a treacherous descent the other side, with almost 30km still to race after they’d reached the summit of the climb.
Of course not every rider in the pro peloton uploads their rides to Strava, with Colombian climber Miguel Ángel López (Astana) reportedly setting Tuesday’s best time on the climb of 44-38. But it’s not on Strava, Miguel, so it didn’t happen.
Impressively it was two riders from the day’s breakaway that set the best Strava times on the Mortirolo, with Jan Hirt (Astana) taking the KOM one second ahead of eventual stage winner Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo). Ciccone actually crested the climb first to take the mountains points and add to his lead in the Giro’s blue jersey, but somehow, somewhere Hirt gained a second, so who are we to argue?
Hirt averaged 351w compared to Ciccone’s 366w on the duration of the climb, with both hardly deviating from a consistent power, although they both started the climb with more of a punch to try and drop a number of other riders in the breakaway.
Damiano Caruso, who was also in the breakaway, took third place despite slowing to join and support Bahrain-Merida team-mate Vincenzo Nibali who was with the other general classification contenders behind.
Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos) was the highest placed GC rider to upload his ride to Strava. The Russian completed the climb in 46-52 (14.6kmh average) to take fourth on the leaderboard, but actually lost almost two minutes at the finish to the likes of Nibali and race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar) having been dropped on the climb.
Meanwhile, Sivakov’s team boss Dave Brailsford also had a go at the dreaded Mortirolo on Tuesday ahead of the race passing through. The 55-year-old completed the climb in a respectable 1-11-40 (9.6kmh average) to place 1834th on the leaderboard.
Still, the current pros may wince at the thought of beating the reported pre-Strava era best times on the Mortirolo.
Marco Pantani, who has a memorial on the climb, completed it in 42-40 in 1994 (allegedly riding it on a 39×24 gear), while Ivan Gotti, Roberto Heras and Gilberto Simoni somehow went up the climb in 41-42 in the 1999 Giro d’Italia.