Giro d'Italia 2002
I was well acquainted with the Passo Coe climb that became the deciding factor of the 85th Giro d‘Italia.
I rode it several times a few summers back. It doesn‘t have impossible grades, but it‘s long (about 19 kms), with no flats, and it is almost completely exposed to the sun.
The hot, humid air that rises in summer afternoons from the Adige valley make the climb even more treacherous and doubles the rider‘s fatigue.
When it comes after nearly 3 weeks of racing, as the final climb of a 225 km mountain stage, it is understandable that it is responsible for serious crises even for major riders.
The day before, the dreaded Dolomite stage, with its terrifically hard Marmolada climb had severely tested the best of the pack. Some had put out too much energy and simply could not recover enough muscular glycogen overnight, so when they faced the Passo Coe they just ran out of gas.
Savodelli took 55 minutes to climb the 1480 meter gradient (VAM = 1614 m/h), at a rate of almost 21 km/h. At that speed, staying in the wheel of other riders represents an energy savings of about 20 watts, equal to about 5% of the racer’s power output.
This is why Paolo Savoldelli could accelerate with such violence, covering 2 kilometers flat out and leaving his immediate pursuers in the dust.
In that short stretch he took a 30 second lead, pedaling at an average of about 24 km/h (VAM = 1850 m/h).