The 2010 Giro d'Italia is to very close to making the final decision to use the Zoncolan climb from Ovaro once again, as in 2007. Race director Angelo Zomegnan is to finalize his decision next week.
This is a very demanding climb, and one of the most difficult in Europe, usually compared to Spain's Alto de El Angliru. Monte Zoncolan has been featured in the men's Giro d'Italia twice so far. The first time was in Stage 12 of the 2003 Giro d'Italia, won by Gilberto Simoni, using the less difficult road from Sutrio. The ascent from Ovaro was featured for the first time in the 2007 Giro d'Italia and which Simoni also won.
The climb starts in Ovaro in the Gorto valley, and is 10.5 kilometres (6.5 mi) long at an average of 11.5% with an elevation gain of 1,210 metres (4,000 ft) and a maximum gradient of 22%. The real climb however starts at Liariis, 8.5 kilometres (5.3 mi) from the summit. Shortly after the village, the road disappears into forest and gains 900 metres (3,000 ft) in the next 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). After this section, the road passes through three short tunnels, before a series of steep switchbacks immediately beneath the summit. The former rough asphalt between Liariis and the tunnels was replaced in 2007; that between the last tunnel and the summit had already been resurfaced by autumn 2005. The tunnels are now lit.
Read the Italian Journal Cycling story here of two mere mortals riding the Zoncolan.
Photos by Sirotti: Di Luca and Cunego on the Zoncolan and tifosi, 2007 Giro d'Italia