One of the most iconic climbs in the Alps soars 2758m above sea level.The Stevio's first appearance in the Giro d Italia was back in 1953 when the legendary Fausto Coppi went on to seal overall victory after he attacked and caught the pink jersey on the Stelvio held by Hugo Koblet on the penultimate stage.
Caffeine and Cycliste is more about just taking in the whole experience from the local culture.Cuisines, the religious Cafe stops we want to immerse you in the whole experience of heading out to Stelvio or other iconic climbs around the world.
First things first get your priorities right before tackling the beast,Cafe Stop in Prato.Italy's Coffee culture is synonymous so everywhere has amazing coffee and the most amazing Patisseries the Pistachio Creme Filled Croissant is an absolute delight either enjoyed with your Cafe or wrapped up and used later up on the climb for that extra bit of reward when you on the rivet.
As you leave Prato and enter the gates of the Stelvio you face the most torturous and one of the most rewarding views awaits once you hit the top.The Stelvio ascend from Prato is 24.3km with a average gradient of 8% 48 hairpins of Alpine .The first 8km are a gradual warmup of 5-6% a leg loosener for what awaits you further up in the climb this is really where you want to get into a rhythm not go too hard as you will pay for it further up the climb.
From 8-12km it gradually starts to ramp up as you reach the bridge over the Rio Trafoi with a brief respite after 10km where the gradient drops briefly.You now at the halfway point and ideal time to grab that Pistachio Croissant thats been stored in your back pocket,We all need little treats along the way.
This is where the climb really starts to bite the thing about the Stelvio is it teases you along, you never really see the top until you get into those final kilometres.Your first reward to stop and take in what you've accomplished so far lies at the Bella Vista Hotel hairpin.Its always great sometimes just to stop and just take in the beauty of your surroundings.Sometimes we just get too caught up in trying to smash ourselves we never truly get to appreciate the magnificence of the true beauty of the Stelvio.
Right selfies over lets get back to the climb and your next landmark tick lies at the Rocco Bianca Restaurant which sits at 1861m above sea level you are shy of 50m the equivalent height of the Legendary Mont Ventoux not bad eh?
From now onwards its just you the road listening to your breathing and envisioning the moment you reached the top,the euphoria the applauses maybe even a cheeky few beers hang on we not quite there yet.
You now face the hardest part of the climb the stones on the right are your final warning to buckle up its going to be a grim slog as you get your first glimpse of the top behind the Hotel Franzenshöhe.You now face 24 more hairpins which are closer knitted together than the previous 24 hairpins.The air gets thinner your breathing gets heavier but you know this is the final hoorah 600m more of elevation and the pain you experiencing will simply melt away.
Those final few hairpins are like the sweet taste of victory your legs are full of lactic, you drenched in sweat a reminder of the battle you've faced further down the mountain but its all about to be rewarded soon.One last hairpin and you out the saddle you can almost see the sign that denotes you at the top of the climb theres people cheering you on at the side of the road for that brief second you feel like you on a stage of the Giro d Italia as the applauds get louder and louder as you finally cusp the top.Wasnt that bad huh? You now face a carnival of Motorbikes,Cyclists Tourists all milling about the top grabbing selfies, souvenirs and yes that glorious smell that wafts the air is Bratwurst.This is all about the whole experience so grab yourself a Bratwurst with some Sauerkraut a beer and just enjoy the accomplishment of overcoming one of cycling's iconic climb for a moment whilst you watch the world whilst you recover.