Audio Master Class: The Legends of the Giro

The Giro d’Italia is going on right now, and what better person to bring you a very challenging, very exciting Giro stage than someone who grew up in Italy and remembers seeing the Giro pass by his door at age 4? Robert Baldi, ICA contributor and avid cyclist and cycling fan, brings you the Queen Stage of this year’s Giro, stage 19. This brutal profile ascends two of the most famous passes in the lore of the Giro, the Gavia and the Stelvio. Then after a short fast flat (and a 40km descent) it turns up again for a thrilling mountaintop finish.

What’s different about this profile is that Robert brings some of the history of these two legendary climbs. The Gavia is famous for the heroic ascent by American Andy Hampsten (the first to win the Maglia Rosa), as he battled blizzard-like conditions over the climb. The Stelvio has many great stories that played out on its slopes, but none more exciting than the very first ascent in 1953, when Coppi, known as Campionissimo (the champion of champions), orchestrated an attack while keeping his word (sort of) to his opponent.

Read these short stories to your class on the start of these two climbs to bring your profile to life. Robert also gives you a few Italian pronunciation tips, as well as some Italian cycling terminology to impress your class.

As I say in this interview, while it’s fun to do during the Giro, this is one of those profiles you can do anytime of the year you want to create some excitement!


  1. i coached this stage on Saturday as the opener for the Race Day Cycling program i am bringing to my club for the first time . It was a huge success. i had 2 women who regularly ride outside who were so happy to see something like this finally come to the club and 1 newbie to indoor cycling. He read the flyer which included several disclaimers about this type of ride but he thought and said ..”i’m not a new rider i ride the stationary bikes in the fitness area 2-3x a week.” ok i digress, but you know the feeling and ultimately it turned out just fine.
    I opened with an ipad slideshow of photos of the Ponte Legno depicting past and present (giro) with the snow and then told them how this year the stage was cancelled due to weather so riders went indoors to train just like us. The snowy photos really put the ride dynamics in perspective and the work they had in front of them. OMG!! was frequently heard.
    We then moved into the historical photos of the Gavia and Andy Hamsten’s famous ride through climb 1 ending with a picture of an expresso since he was awarded free expressos for life after his infamous ride.
    Climb 2 began with photos of the Stelvio then into the 1955 ride of Kolbet and Coppi. A lot of photos on this available for this. The final climb slideshow moved through this year’s giro to the end with the trophy, jersey, the models and kisses for the final GC winners.
    Something different i did to help break up the saddle time and to give the element of race attacks is to encourage optional surprise rider attacks in the last part of the 1st and 2nd climbs when the felt so inspired ( saddle relief). That kept us on our toes wondering who, when and for how long they would attack and some realistic element of the racing challenge. they loved that. I encouraged the new guy to try some seated rpms pushes for his attacks (saving some matches in heart rate).
    Riders were so appreciative and commented on what i brought to the class that gave it a wow factor they weren’t expecting. Even the new guy who hung in there in the saddle loved it, was so appreciative i included him and is now motivated to seek out and attend some other classes and get off the stationary bikes in the fitness area. so i feel that was a good end result.
    Searching for and putting together the slideshow took a lot of time and reading of course, but i loved it and learned so much about Coppi, Koblet, Andy Hamsten and the whole Giro history.
    My playlist which was well received included most of Robert’s suggestions and a few others

    Passo dello Stelvio part one: Zion (matrix reloaded), Fluke
    Recovery: Burn It Up, Paul Van Dyk
    Catch the Break Away: Noche del Amor, Manian
    Final Climb part one: Too Close, Alex Clare

    I guess my only downside was that i, of course, couldn’t ride it “with them” like i really wanted to. Most of my commentary, coaching and cueing was off the bike much like the communication from the chase cars to the riders. So my dream and hope will be to maybe someday day ride it in class with you, jennifer, or even Robert!

    Thanks for an awesome profile and learning experience.

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