After departing Bergamo in a southerly direction, the route crosses the Bergamo plain in its first 40km to go up the Cavallina valley to Casazza where the Colle Gallo – the first ascent of the race – is tackled. Colle is followed by a fast descent returning from the Seriana valley to Bergamo, then the route re-enters lowland roads that lead to Brianza. There’s a short passage to Colle Brianza and a descent to Pescate heading towards Valmadrera and then towards Oggiono and, finally, through Pusiano, Asso and down the descent to Onno and on to Bellagio. This is where the Ghisallo ascent – with gradients of up to 14% on wide roads with different hairpin bends – begins.
The following very fast descent is on long straights and ends at Maglio where, immediately after a right turn, the climb of the Colma di Sormano begins. After a few km of medium slopes, and a few hundred meters after Sormano, the route heads up the Muro di Sormano on a narrow, very steep road, (2km long, with a gradient up to 15%). It’s partly inside a small wood, with very narrow bends and slopes that, for around 1km of distance, exceed 25% up to almost 30%.
Once past the Colma, the route follows the descent to Nesso, where the riders then take the coastal road to reach Como. Next they face the hard climb to Civiglio (614m) with slopes almost always around 10% – and with a marked narrowing of the roadway at the top of the climb – before going back down and through Como to hit the last climb of San Fermo della Battaglia (397m). There are two Feed Zones: the first in San Sosimo (km 112-5) and the second in Onno (km 182-5).
Last 10km start inside the area of Como on wide avenues, up to the railway underpass where the final ascent of San Fermo della Battaglia begins. The slope is around 7% (max 10%). The route passes several hairpin bends up to the brow at around 5km from the finish. The descent, on a wide, well-paved road ends at the last kilometer.
The city of the “Thousand”, hence named after the many volunteer soldiers that committed to the cause of Italian Unification, led by Garibaldi, is divided into Bergamo Alta (the upper town), namely the historical district, and Bergamo Bassa (the lower town). The upper town (Città Alta) is one of the few towns in Italy whose centre is still entirely surrounded by walls. Piazza Vecchia is the heart of the city; main sights include the Contarini fountain, Palazzo della Ragione and the civic tower (Torre Civica). Major landmarks also include the Colleoni Chapel, one of the many monuments in Bergamo dedicated to Bartolomeo Colleoni, a famous warlord who was born in Solza, on the bank of the Adda River. By the end of his career, he had become captain-general of the Army of Venice. This was a land of warlords and a land of Popes too, with John XXIII, known as “the Good Pope”, who was born in Sotto il Monte, nearby. A number of characters of Italian Comedy are “native” to this area, too, the most famous of which being Arlecchino (Harlequin) and Gioppino. Bergamo was hometown to many football stars (both the former coach of the Italian national team Donadoni and Giacinto Facchetti were born here) and cycling champions such as Felice Gimondi – Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España winner – and Paolo Savoldelli, an unstoppable downhill racer, dubbed the “hawk from Bergamo” (who was born in Clusone, nearby). Ivan Gotti and Beppe “Turbo” Guerini, both of whom scored major achievements in top races, were native to the area, too.
Celebrated by Manzoni, Byron and Stendhal, Lake Como is considered as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Nowadays a major tourist destination, also for Hollywood celebrities such as George Clooney, the city and its surroundings are a major pole in the Italian silk manufacturing chain. Historically, it was the third city in Italy receiving a medal of honour for its contribution to Italian Unification, with reference to the battle of San Fermo in which Garibaldi led the Hunter of the Alps (Cacciatori delle Alpi) corps to defeat the Austrian forces, thus defending the city of Como. The city centre overlooks the lake of the same name. Rising in the historical district is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the city’s Duomo, one of the major cathedrals in Italy. Its dome was designed by Sicilian architect Filippo Juvarra. Every day, a cannon shot is fired at 12:00, marking noon for all the citizens. The shot can be heard throughout the city centre and the urban area. Main events include the traditional Sant’Abbondio festival, dedicated to the patron saint and celebrated every year on August 31, as well as the evocative Sagra di San Giovanni Battista. The latter is a historical re-enactment of the Mediaeval wars that were fought on Lake Como, which features a magnificent fireworks display and a lake cruise that sets sail in Como and takes passengers on a journey with live music and dancing. Como has hosted six Giro d’Italia stage finishes, and it was finish city for the “Il Lombardia presented by NAMEDSPORT” classic several times.