The ascents of the Giro: Umbrail Pass, Stelvio | Discover Italy with Selle Italia
The ascents of the Giro: Umbrail Pass, the “other” Stelvio


The ascents of the Giro: Umbrail Pass, the “other” Stelvio


Santa Maria Val Müstair (Switzerland)


Umbrail Pass (Switzerland)


13 km


1.130 m

Maximum altitude

2.503 m (2.757 if you carry on to the Stelvio pass)

Maximum gradient


Average gradient


In a Giro first, the 23 May 2017 stage of the Centenary year of the race included the Umbrail Pass, on the lesser known Swiss side of the Stelvio.

The Stelvio, the most classic of the Cime Coppi peaks and an arena of legendary exploits, is a climb that needs no introduction. Nevertheless, for the 2017 Centenary Edition stage of 23 May, the Giro d’Italia had a unique surprise in store: for the first time in Giro history, the ascent would take place on the Swiss side, via the Umbrail Pass or Giogo di Santa Maria, perhaps the least known of the three possible routes to the Pass at 2,757 metres above sea level. The other two approaches, well-known of course, are from Bormio and Prato allo Stelvio.
The ascent of the Umbrail starts from Santa Maria Val Müstair (1,375 metres), connecting the Canton of Grisons with the Alta Valtellina. The crossing place (2,503 m) is actually about 3 km lower than the Stelvio Pass, and the descent back into Italy involves a further 250 metre climb.

The climb

Its surfacing completed only in 2015 and rarely troubled by traffic, this road winds through wild Alpine scenery, the atmosphere heightened by the barren mountain barren pastures and squeals of Alpine marmots.

The climb (13 km and 1,130 metres of elevation) is mostly doable on the bike; the hardest stretch is right at the beginning, in the first few kilometres after Santa Maria, with tight hairpin bends at around 10%.

The biggest problem is the high altitude, which can cause breathing difficulties for inadequately prepared riders. Another pitfall of this route is the interminable uphill straights you encounter upon leaving the vegetation of the valley floor. These tracts, typical of Swiss Alpine passes, give no respite – the mental and not just physical exertion is unrelenting.

Before the crossing place, the climb gets steeper for about 1 km, then crosses the Swiss-Italian border and arrives at a clearing with a fork in the road; at this point you can descend to Bormio or climb for another 3 km and almost 300 metres elevation to reach the Stelvio Pass.




*Mandatory fields