Giro d’Italia Bicycle Race Rerouted Due to Too Much Snow on Great St Bernard’s Pass, Switzerland

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Clearing works were under way in late April, 2023, at the Great St. Bernard Pass. | Picture: Meteo Valle d’Aosta Facebook Page

Switzerland and other areas in the European Alps experienced late season snowfall as recently as in May, and therefore the clearing of the Great St. Bernard Pass has been delayed. This resulted in the famous bicycle race, the Giro d’Italia (in English: ‘The Italian Race’), having to be rerouted through a tunnel below the pass. Giro d’Italia race organization confirmed the change on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.  The ascent to the pass road at 8,100ft (2,469m), is considered the most spectacular event of the famous peloton.

Giro d’Italia
Profile of the climb to the Great St. Bernard Pass (or Colle del Gran San Bernardo in Italian). | Picture: Giro d’Italia Website

At the beginning of April work started to clear the famous Great St. Bernard Pass that is the third highest mountain pass in Switzerland. The pass has been connecting Switzerland and Italy since Roman times and runs from Martigny in Switzerland to the Italian Aosta Valley. You are probably familiar with the dog breed that originated here and was bred at the hospice on top of the pass to help search in the many avalanches in this region, the St. Bernard’s dog.


Clearing works were under way in late April, 2023, at the Great St. Bernard Pass. | Picture: Meteo Valle D’Aosta Facebook Page


Unfortunately recent snowfalls of up to 32 inches (80cm) have delayed the clearing of roads as the spring avalanches make the pass unsafe. Therefore, the initially anticipated opening of the Colle Del Gran San Bernardo, as it is called in Italian, on May 26, 2023, will not happen, forcing the Giro d’Italia, which started on May 6, to cut the steepest of its total 20 climbs of the famous 3-week-race.

Several Swiss mountain passes are currently closed, including the Furka, the Grimsel, the Susten, the Nufenen and the Klausen Pass. The Gotthard Pass opened yesterday, Wednesday May 17, 2023, but is still subject to closures at night.

Small San Bernard
Clearing is underway at the Small St. Bernard Pass between Italy and France and the pass is slated to open on May 25, 2023. | Picture: La Rosier Ski Resort Facebook Page

The Small St. Bernard Pass, which is further south, at the border of France and Italy, will open on May 25, 2023, but snow clearing is still underway. The Small St. Bernard Pass (Colle del Piccolo San Bernardo) is near the ski resort La Rosière, France, and connects the village to Italy. The ski resort La Rosière is connected with La Thuile in Italy and together make up the Espace San Bernardo ski area, named after this pass, which offers 7,400 acres of skiable area on more than 100 miles (160km) of groomed runs. The opening of the Small St. Bernard Pass is followed with great anticipation, as the road is the only vehicular access between the two villages.

“Just like riding Vancouver Island” … is it, Derek?

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