Following stage 2’s scenic trip down coastline of Northern Ireland, stage 3 will take the peloton south from Armagh to the finish in the heart of Dublin. Similar to stage 2 this stage is one for the sprinters with only a couple of early climbs to allow an escape to get clear, scoop up the King Of the Mountain points, grab some TV time for their sponsors before being caught by the sprinters teams within sight of the finish. Although you’ll probably see little of these stage 3 climbs on the television coverage, you might fancy heading out to watch the race or to try them for yourself so here’s all you need to know.
Rising out of Markethill, Coolmillish Road will be a good leg loosener for the peloton and should a break not already be clear by this point then this is the perfect ramp to get get a gap. With two climbs in quick succession and a few days before the next points available in the Mountain Jersey competition these climbs will be high on the agenda for a number of riders. The climb rises 133m over 4.7 km and although the average gradient is just 2.8% the steeper ramp at the beginning (maxing out at around 7%) will certainly be noticeable. A long flat section follows but the final third of the climb gets back to some proper gradients again.
(Interactive 3D profile of climb and map – don’t be shy, give it a spin!)
The summit at Fews Forrest is the high point of the Giro’s visit to Ireland at 315m above sea level (the highpoint of the entire race will be at the Passo dello Stelvio at a giddy height of 2,758m on stage 16). Once again, over the climb’s 4.5 km the average grade is still a very manageable 3.5% but it does save the most testing gradients for the near the summit. From here to the finish of stage 3 it is more likely that the wind will play the bigger part in causing any upsets to the main contenders with some blustery conditions forecast. Given the extreme conditions during last year’s Giro where several climbs had to be closed due to snowfall along with almost constant heavy rain then I’m sure the riders will be taking it all in their stride.
Having one of the Grand Tours visit our shores is rare event and if you are at all able then you must get on the roadside and take in the full experience, and where better than on one of these climbs. Once the race has headed back to Italy then hopefully many of you will have been inspired to take to the roads yourself and compare your times to the pro riders to get a full appreciation of how quickly and effortlessly they can tackle our local hills despite the hard work we have to put in to get over them.