GIRO D'ITALIA STAGE 17: SAN PELLEGRINO TERME - APRICA 198.5km -- MOUNTAIN &MTF
The penultimate mass start mountain stage of this Giro. As you might've guessed from the finish town, we are going over the Mortirolo today
, as well as some other bumps as well. The Mortirolo is definitely not over-used in my opinion, once every couple of years is perfect. I wanted to make a Giro with all pf the hardest famous climbs in the final week. he first couple included less well known ones, for example Partenio and the side of Catria from Caprile I used which frankly barely exists, but in the final week I have used more well known ones like Agnello, Finestre, Bielmonte, Izoard, Oropa (unusual side, but still), Sormano (unusual side once again) and some still to come tomorrow and on Saturday.
The day starts off in the small town of San Pellegrino Terme, before going straight up the fantastically named Passo di Zucca Trinita. Not that steep, it is 10km at 6%, it is enough to get the legs going and sort out a strong break. The march west continues through the valley between the Alpi Orobie and the Alto Sebino. Our second test of the day comes almost 50km into the day up the Passo Presolana. 10km at about 6%, it is very similar in difficulty to the first climb, and should not be that selective. This is not the side used in 2008, but the easier side from Rovetta. However the steep descent is on pretty wide roads (relative to the alps) and is very untechnical.
After the descent comes another climb, Passo del Vivione. This climb starts at Dezzo di Scalve and I ranked it a 1st category climb, mainly because it is 20km long. The asphalt here is pretty poor and the road is narrow, so the climb is much more selective than numbers might suppose. The first 4.8km are at 6.7%, before a 7km long false flat, which rises very little, and even includes a descent. The last 8km, however, stiffens up and reaches 12% straight away before going through 14 hairpins on a road that is uncannily similar to the Mortirolo, narrow, through the woods, just less steep. Having said that, the last 8.5km average 9%.
Then we done, then Aprica were the last reaming domestiques will try to position their leaders as well as possible before the Mortirolo. Then, all hell breaks loose for the riders. nothing goes right from now on. Will there be a fantastic ride like Contador's this year up it, or will the main contenders suffer like Aru as the gradient reaches over 18%. A mythical climb will seem like it never ends for the riders up it's narrow wooded road.With plenty of climbing in their legs already, over 4000m, this will be even harder.
The riders will go over it completely empty in groups of 2 or 4, maybe the descent will join them up if they are going solo. An intermediate sprint will greet them at Edolo, and a few bonus seconds with it, although they will feel like nothing compared to the gaps at the end of the hard stages of this Giro. The final 18km false flat to Aprica is the only thing between them and the next stage. Attacks on this are hard, but possible, like Landa showed. After 5600 meters of climbing, which is 2000m off the top for this Giro on stage 13, the legs will be tired. But the Giro continues for a beautiful stage in the dolomites tomorrow.