Photos of the day: Muro di Sormano

Ouch, that's steep.

Dismayed by what he perceived as a Giro Lombardia that had become too 'easy' a classic, director Torriani discovered and inserted a new steep climb into the 1960 -1962 races - the Muro di Sormano.  

For 2010, it's next door neighbor the Colma di Sormano is on the route.  Let the pigeons loose!   They should have used the Muro instead.

Just following the Madonna di Ghisallo, it's brutal.  1.7 km of climbing to 1107 meters altitude. Average 17% grade, with stretches at 25%.   4 hairpins.   Now that's what I'm talking about.

World champion Ercole Baldini used a 44x29 in 1960.  Anquetil used a 42x27.    Van Looy was pushed up by spectators.   Anquetil was quoted saying it would be impossible to ride up.

It was a climb conquered in those years by names pretty much forgotten nowadays.  Imerio Massignan.  Emile Daems.  Jo de Roo.  Vito Taccone.  Fortunately not forgotten by those local afficionados who saved and repaved the old broken climb just a few years ago.  It's been used for some Gran Fondos, and amateur time trials.

If you ride it today, you can see those names still painted on the road with their times back then.   And in your delirium, read quotes made about those memorable races by men long gone.  And count down the meters to go.

Photo: La Gazetta dello Sport
Photo: La Gazetta dello Sport  checkout the website.
The leader over the more conventional, alternative road to the top  at Sormano tomorrow will have to descend like a madman, ride a 20 km pursuit back to Como, climb the San Fermo di Battaglia, and swoop down the final 2k to the lakefront finish.  It'll still be some finale.    Expect the action to start on the Ghisallo, some fireworks on the Colma Sormano, and no let up till the end.    It could be the classic of the year.  It would be for sure, if the organizers had the balls to use the Muro instead.


  1. Been watching this site for a week or two and now you've mentioned Emile Daems just had to join. Emile Daems won the first race I was offered a ride in. It was a 3 race "track meeting" but on the road behind Vespas. Only 12 or so riders but what a field. Van Looy,Van Steenbergen,Jeff Plankaert, Willy Vannitsen. I've still got the start sheet. {1962}

  2. Whoa Orchard! You must have been flying, and a stone-cold pro hardman to get a ride in that one. Racing the 2 Riks in '62? Incredible, what a memory that must have been! Thanks for reading. Feel free to weigh in anytime and keep us 'faux-flahutes' in line!

  3. Hang on Eddy.Thanks for your confidence in my ability but there's another side to the story. I arrived at the venue with the intent of being a spectator but was pounced on by the the promoter{van Buggenhout}and told I could ride,the reason being that to have an English rider in the field would enhance the"international" status of the meeting. Just how a wet behind the ears newcomer with 2 senior wins and a 5th place in a recent independant event could enhance an event with van Looy in I don't know but other English riders reported the same thing. Anyway the whole thing was taken out of my hands and after much heated argument about my age, my licence,number of pacers available, remember it was behind vespas, and 101 things I didn't understand the race started without yours truly who was left leaning on his bike in the competitors enclosure. My 15 minutes of fame was denied.
    I've sorted out the programme and the other riders were Jo de Roo,Jos Wouters,Benoni Beheyt, Roger Melckenbeeck, Rob de Middeleir and a trackie named Jose Denoyette famous for star spangled silk jerseys and a fine row of gold teeth. So there we are fame snatched from my grasp. Still a day or two later I did get to ride home from a race with Jos Wouters and even got to ride van Looy's bike. All in all it might be a better story than just saying "I got shelled out by Rik". After all most of the cycling world can say that.

  4. Orchard777, I don't care if you were a late entry, you lined up net to Rik 1, Rik 2, etc...! That's fabulous.

  5. Eddy, I didn't do my homework before Lombardia, so I had no idea HOW hard the climb was...? Your description and the pictures show how hard it was. Thanks

  6. Thanks for the kind comments. I think what is hard to understand for most today is just how easy it was then for riders of modest ability to rub shoulders with the world's best.It was perfectly possible to turn up and find yourself signing on next to a classics winner or even a world champion. provided one had the necessary licence and you were in. Even that didn't seem to matter that much. I knew riders who had amateur,indy and pro licences just so they could enter which event was nearest. It's worth remembering that even the stars rode out to events on occasions then.There were so many events, I have results for 237 pro events for 1977
    in Belgium alone. I believe at one time there were 475 or there abouts independant licences issued in Belgium alone, although I can't guarantee that figure. It was a long time ago.
    On a completely different subject, being a newcomer to the site I'm not aware of site protocol but in response to enquiries on the "history of a jersey"thread some months ago I have posted a bit regarding Len Willett and the roof rack. I hope you will find it interesting. Apologies if that's "not how it's done".

  7. Orchard777, My partner and I operate and I'd love to get your take on an article Graham wrote about Graham Webb.

    Check it out and let me know what you think.


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