The Giro d’Italia is about to get serious! The sprinters will now be fighting to make the time limits as the roads shoot skywards with the next three stages tackling 6 category 1 or above climbs including the Passo Dello Stelvio which at 2,758m is the high point of the race. Fingers crossed the poor weather continuing to plague this year’s Giro (similar to last year) will abate to avoid the cancelling or rerouteing of any of these stages.
Stage 14 – Agliè → Oropa – Saturday 24th May
After an early 3rd category climb the peloton will be faced with large 3 climbs, back to back:
A 1st category climb of 9 km with a sustained central section of 11.4 %.
A much longer climb of 18 km but at a far more reasonable overall angle resulting in it only gaining a 2nd category in the King Of the Mountains competition.
The 1st category summit finish at Oropa starts from Beilla at a fairly steady rate but the final 6 km ramp up to an average of 8 %.
Stage 15 – Sunday 25th May
This is not your typical mountain stage with all but the last 20 km of the 225 km route being as good as flat. With a rest day to follow expect any fireworks left in any of the riders legs to be going off from the foot of that final climb up to Plan di Montecampione.
20 km averaging 8 % will see the team of the pink jersey trying to set a blistering pace to limit the attacks of their GC rivals. The steady gradients might well play into the hands of this tactic if the team is strong enough but expect plenty of people to try and make their mark knowing they can spend the next day enjoying a well earned rest.
Stage 16 – Tuesday 27th May
The stage following a rest day can affect riders in different ways, some come back with renewed vigour while others can struggle to get their legs back up to speed. Well, one thing is certain, with 3 of the biggest climbs of the Giro lined up to back to back those with the heavy legs will be on for a tough day in the saddle!
Although only a mere 16 km in length, the category 1 climb to Passo Gavia is actually the steepest of the day at and average of over 8 % and it will be interesting to see if any of the teams tkae the bull by the horns this early in the stage to apply the pressure.
This is the big one, 2,758 m high at its summit the Stelvio is a pass that brings fear (or excitement depending on which way you are inclined) to the heart of any cyclist. At over 22 km in length and an average gradient of over 7 % this climb covers over 1,500 m of vertical elevation. Lets hope the snow holds off to let the peloton through unhindered.
Another monster of a climb with 21.5 km at an average of 6.1 % but the sting is most definitely in the tail with the final 1.5 km being over 10 %. Expect the field to be completely blown apart after a long day in the saddle with only the strongest and most willing to suffer able to compete for the win.