By day, Neo is a computer programmer and a model citizen; by night, he’s a hacker who exploits his knowledge illicitly. The encounter with Trinity and the choice of the red pill reveal the truth to him and expose to him the true structure of the world: the Matrix.
The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room.
On the day of the Maratona dles Dolomites, Passo Sella is a Neo who has definitely chosen the red pill. Because Sella is perhaps the symbolic pass, the “model” pass of the Dolomites, but on July 7 it will turn into one of the most dangerous points of the entire race route. One of those points that can really leave a mark.
5.5 kilometers, average gradient 7.9%. Points at 12%. It’s not a long climb, but the gradients are much steeper than those on the first two passes. The rest of the year, all you need to do is take it a bit easy here; in the Maratona it’s a completely different story.
On the day of the Maratona, Sella comes after Campolongo and Pordoi, two passes that can be climbed without excessive effort in a decent gear. But especially after the descent of the Pordoi, which is completely in the shade, the first steep ramps can put you to the test.
The key points: two straightaways in the central part and the three final switchbacks, which are steeper. For those looking to race the Maratona, the Sella could really create a selection in the group. For those who want to enjoy the day, it’s important to take the first ramps in a fairly easy gear and warm up gradually, remembering to save some energy for the final steep pitches.
Passo Sella is not only the Maratona dles Dolomites but also pure cycling history. It has been climbed 17 times in the Giro, and the first to win on it among the professionals was a certain Gino Bartali. Three times it was also the Cima Coppi, most recently in 1998, when Marco Pantani was first to summit. It was the year in which, shortly afterward, he would complete the Giro d’Italia–Tour de France double, the last in the history of cycling.
Passo Sella is Neo, but it’s kind of the Matrix itself as well. Because if there’s one element that’s everywhere, that’s around us and always present in the Maratona, it’s the Sella group. Because the first 52 kilometers of the Maratona (and the second passage over Campolongo) are a long loop around these mountains. Always visible, always present. When you do the Maratona, you look at them from every angle, trying to let yourself succumb to their beauty in order to forget the effort.
The Sella group is like the Matrix. Pervasive. And we’re immensely grateful for this.
If you want to climb Passo Sella with the right soundtrack, here the playlist of The Matrix on Spotify.
Photocredits: Edoardo Civiero, Jered Gruber, Molography