Gavia Pass is 2621 m asl and connects the areas of Sondrio and Brescia (summer opening only).
Gavia Pass is a narrow road with very little traffic; it's one of the highest Alpine passes and this is the reason why it's the destination of a lot of cyclists and motorcyclists from all over Europe. It has been a Giro d'Italia stage for a few years - since 1960 when Vincenzo Torriani "discovered" it.
There are two alternatives to get up there by racing bike: starting from Bormio, in Valtellina, or starting from Ponte di Legno, on the Brescia side.
The climb from Bormio.
The climb from the "Valtellina" side starts in Bormio (1220 m asl) which is separated from Gavia Pass by 26 - sometimes very challenging! - km.
The climb to Gavia Pass is special: a road with both an endless series of easy but also very challenging parts, and with a slight slope in the last 3 km.
The starting point is in Bormio, you cycle to Santa Caterina Valfurva on a wide and sometimes steep road with two stretches. Later, the road gets narrow and with a series of hairpin bends. There are easy parts where you can catch your breath and enjoy the view, but also challenging parts involving steep slopes. The final part is easy, but you can see the top only a few hundred meters before you get there, alongside the lake.
The average gradient of the slope is 6.5% and the maximum gradient is 14%, with a vertical drop of about 1400 m.
The climb from Ponte di Legno.
The Brescia side is the hardest one. The starting point is from Ponte di Legno (1240 m asl) and goes up for 18 km.
The start is easy, with a broad road on a slight slope up to the town of Santa Apollonia. That’s where the real climb begins, with a dramatically narrow road and steep slopes. After a long series of hairpin bends you enter the valley and find a fairly dark and uphill gallery: this is a place where you need to pay close attention. The last 3 km are characterized by very challenging slopes and a bumpy road. But that’s where you start seeing the top
The road to Gavia pass is not full of extremely steep scopes like Mortirolo, but the length and the constant slope make of it a challenging climb to deal with a road bike.
The average gradient of the slope is 7.9% and the maximum gradient 12%. The vertical drop is about 1380 m.