The monster Passo dello Stelvio climb was included in the 17th stage of the 1972 Giro d’Italia, a 88 km route from Livigno to the top of Passo dello Stelvio. The ascent to Stlvio was from the north (Trafoi side). 20 km from the finish, KAS team’s Spanish rider, José Manuel Fuente, nicknamed “El Tarangu” (which is a word in the Asturian language for a man reputed for his strength and character), attacked.
Fuente was using an unbelievable 54 x 18 gear ratio that day – it has been said that only Fausto Coppi had been able to use such a huge gear on the Stelvio. He crossed the finish line at the top of the Stelvio 32 seconds ahead of his teammate Francisco Galdós and 2 minutes 5 seconds ahead of the eventual winner Eddy Merckx. Merckx retained in pink that day.
Fuente finished in second in the overall, 5 min 30 sec behind Merckx. He also won the mountains classification.