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2016 Giro d'Italia: Stage-by-stage analysis

Yes, it's that time of the year again! The greatest GT of all is back! And with that comes my traditional route analysis.

Let me introduce...

THE 99TH GIRO!!!

The 2016 Giro can be seen as a confirmation of the trend set by the 2015 edition, that broke up with the MTF overkill pattern that the Giro was adopting, culminated with the 2014 edition. The 2016 Giro has only one top category MTF, and only one other MTF on something that can be called a proper climb. With the grand-total of 2 proper MTFs, this Giro is almost the polar opposite of its 2014 self, that had 8 MTFs (six 1st cat. and two 2nd cat.). With respect to its more handsome brother 2015 though, this Giro appears a bit anemic. It features less things: fewer kilometers against the clock (although it does have more TT stages), fewer mountain stages. It is not as balanced as last year, with the pure climbers getting buffed by a MTT and a twistier and shorter ITT. On the bright side, the TTT disappeared for the first time in quite a few years. It won't be missed.
As for the flat stages, this edition is quite sprinter-friendly, featuring no less than 5 sure sprints and other 2 stages that could and probably will go to the fast men. But that is often the case with the Giro starting abroad.
Like 2015 this Giro will feature a healthy amount of hilly stages, a few of which could be quite important for the GC. However, the high mountain stages will be plenty enough to decide who will wear the pink jersey in Turin.
If they will be raced, that is.
Problem is, this edition utterly crushes the 2015 in one comparison: altitude. As a matter of fact, in the 2016 route there are 7 GPMs (!) that are higher than the 2015 Cima Coppi, distributed over 3 stages. Considering the recent history between the weather and the Giro, this is a very bold move from RCS. One can only hope we'll get a nice, warm May this year.
Anyway, on paper this is a nice route, hampered by only one clear flaw: the placement of the TTs. If the ITT of stage 9 could prevent the riders going all out on the sterrato the day before, the MTT of stage 15 could make even more damage to the riders' attitude in the Dolomites. This is particularly disappointing considering that a very easy fix would be swapping stage 15 and 16, something that is logistically possible and would make the route so much better...

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Re: Test

STAGE 1: Apeldoorn – Apeldoorn 9.8 km ITT

Stage start: 13.45 CET, 6 May

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Technical Overview:
The 99th Giro opens with an individual prologue (it is not formally a prologue though, being over 8 km) just under 10 km long. It is completely flat and it features a few long straights, where the specialists will be able to exploit their power. The only slightly technical part is in the middle, between 6 and 3 km to go. The final 2 km feature two pretty serious bends that are virtually the only chance for riders to *** up.

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What to expect:
It's a prologue for pure specialists. Gaps could be significant between them and pure climbers. The winner will make it under 11'.

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Re: Test

STAGE 2: Arnhem – Nijmegen 190 km

Stage start: 12.40 CET, 7 May

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Technical Overview:
The first road stage of the 2016 Giro is a flat one, as it is sadly usual nowadays. Ok, we are in the Netherlands, so it'd be silly to expect anything different, but still... 190 km almost entirely flat, with the sole exception of one categorized climb, Berg en Dal (1.13 km at 6.5%, GPM4), which will assign the first blue jersey, at 45 km to go. This climb is actually only 18 km from the finishing line, but unfortunately there is a city circuit in Nijmegen to be ridden twice, 8.6 km with very long straights and only a few real curves.

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The Climbs:

Berg en Dal GPM4
This little wall starts at a solid 6% and then ramps up to 12% in the last metres.
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What to expect:
The breakaway to battle it out for the blue jersey and to be caught by the full peloton shortly after.

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Re: Test

STAGE 3: Nijmegen – Arnhem 190 km

Stage start: 12.40 CET, 8 May

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Technical Overview:
Same starting and finishing cities of the previous day, only inverted. The profile of the route is very similar: flat, flat, more flat, a wall (!!!), and two laps of city circuit. The climb, Posbank (2.2 km at 2.9%, GPM4), features a nice final 500m at 7.2%, with 12% max. The top is at 53 km to go, which makes the climb totally useless, besides the KOM battle. The city circuit is 14 km long, and is actually quite tricky, with some dangerous bends here and there. However, the sprint itself should be safe, as the last worrisome bend is at almost 3 km to go.

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The Climbs:

Posbank GPM4
The official numbers include the false flat at the beginning, but the only serious section is the final 500m.
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What to expect:
Bunch sprint.

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Re: Test

STAGE 4 – Catanzaro – Praia a Mare 200 km

Stage start: 12.20 CET, 10 May

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Technical Overview:
After the first rest day, the Italian part of the race starts from Catanzaro, almost at the very bottom of the boot, for a very tricky stage. After the first 35 km and the intermediate sprint in Marinella, the riders will hit the Tyrrhenian coast, and never leave it, apart from a few incursions into the hills nearby. Statistics say that in May winds have a high chance to come from W-S-W, that would mean crosswinds all day. However don't celebrate yet, because the stats also say winds are weak more often than not. Winds aside, after 85 km of riding along the seaside comes the first decent climb of the Giro, Bonifati (6.55 km at 5.8%, GPM3), with the top at 74 km to go. After a very fast and technical descent, the peloton will get to the coast again, for only 12 km, and then climb the second and final categorized climb of the day. San Pietro (5.3 km at 6.8%, GPM3) is shorter and steeper than the previous climb, especially considering its central 2.5 km at 8.6%. The top is at 50 km to go, and the descent is extremely technical. Back to the sea again, a flat section of 17 km will bring the riders to the second intermediate sprint in Scalea, at 25 km to go, which is where the last part of the stage starts. After climbing roughly 3 km at 4.5% to reach the town of S.Nicola Arcella, the riders will race through a series of ups & downs to arrive in Praia a Mare. Here they'll face the final difficulty of the day, Via del Fortino, 1.8 km at 7.7% average, with max 18%. The pointy look of this climb in the profile is due to a tunnel at the top. In reality, the descent starts as a false flat, as shown in the final km detailed profile. Of the 8.7 km that lead to the finishing line, only the final 3 are flat along the coast.

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The Climbs:

Bonifati GPM3
Very constant and gentle climb. A good first contact with the hills.
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San Pietro GPM3
Much harder, with a first short ramp, a very quick false flat section and the main, steep central stretch, before the easier final km.
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What to expect:
This is a very nice stage, with huge potential for the spectacle. It will not probably be selective enough for the GC guys, but the stage hunters will definitely give it a go, also considering that the pink jersey will be at stake, unless somebody has literally smashed the prologue. A reduced sprint is an option too, of course.

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Re: Test

STAGE 5: Praia a Mare – Benevento 233 km

Stage start: 11.30 CET, 11 May

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Technical Overview:
A very long transitional stage, 233 km and some rough terrain. Starting where they finished the day before, the riders will venture into the mainland through a sequence of false flats and 5% ramps all the way up to a long plateau, which presents only one little bump at the beginning, the climb to Fortino (2.7 km at 7.3%, GPM3), the only categorized climb of the stage. Despite having only one official climb, this stage is far from flat: After the the first intermediate sprint the aforementioned plateau ends and the riders will descend and start ascending again, 7.7 km with very gentle ramps, at 3.1% average but with some 5% sections, up to the second intermediate sprint in Palomonte. After its gentle descent and less than 10 km of valley, the peloton will hit another uncategorized climb, measuring 5.4 km at 5.9%. At the top of this climb we are at 90 km to go. The next 23 km feature more false flats, and are followed by the last climb of the day (yet again, uncategorized), with 6 km at 5.1%, topping at 60 km to go. After that, there is false flat, a proper descent, and a flat 30 km long run into the city of Benevento. Here the riders will pass through the finishing line once, before making just one lap on a short 6.5 km circuit. The finishing straight is slightly uphill, and the road is paved with large cobblestones (it is a very smooth surface, so it should not be a problem at all, see the Giro 2009 stage 18 as reference).

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The Climbs:

Fortino GPM3
Not much to say about this one. Short and quite steep. It's only weird that it is the only categorized climb in a stage that features many others, although not as steep as this one. No official profile sadly.

What to expect:
This is on paper the mother of all breakaway stages. However, it is the first week, teams are still powerful and sprinters should be willing to keep it all together.

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Re: Test

STAGE 6: Ponte – Roccaraso (Rif. Aremogna) 157 km MTF

Stage start: 12.50 CET, 12 May

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Technical Overview:
The first of the two MTFs of the race, quite a short stage with two serious climbs, for a change. After the first slightly ascending 35 km, including also the first intermediate sprint, the peloton hits the first GPM2 of the Giro: Bocca di Selva (18 km at 5.6%, GPM2) is a damn good climb, for a starter. A pretty technical 20 km long descent will bring the riders to the start 50 km section featuring rolling terrain, with ascending and descending false flats all over it. At roughly 34 km to go, the road starts to pick up more decisely, with 6.7 km at 4.6%, after which a short descent will bring the riders to Castel di Sangro, where the last intermediate sprint is placed. After just one more km, the final climb starts: the road to Rifugio Aremogna (16.75 km at 4.6%, GPM2) is a very irregular climb, made of two steps. The first ramp measures 5 km at 7.5%, and is followed by an false flat of 5 km, first ascending at 4% and then slightly descending, after reaching the proper town of Roccaraso. At 6.6 km to go another serious ramp begins, with almost 3 km at 7.4%. This stretch finishes at 3.8 kms to go, the first 2.8 of which are mostly flat. The final km is uphill, with increasingly higher slopes, as the final 500m have an average of 8.4%.

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The Climbs:

Bocca di Selva GPM2
The first 2nd category of the Giro features a solid first section at 6.6%, before a weaker central stretch, followed by a short descent and the final, 6.5 km at 7.1%.
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Rifugio Aremogna GPM2
This one features some pretty serious gradients, but they are scattered here and there. The climb is very irregular, with a few flat sections too. Aremogna has been raced in the Giro only once before, in 1976, the winner was Fabrizio Fabbri, with Gimondi in pink.
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What to expect:
The first minor clash between the GC contenders, with a selected group of 10-15 riders sprinting in the last km. Of course, the breakaway also has a huge chance to take this, if the GC guys are not interested in the bonuses.

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Re: Test

Stage 7: Sulmona – Foligno 211 km

Stage start: 12.55 CET, 13 May

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Technical Overview:
Transitional stage before the second weekend. The breakaway of the day will be formed on the first climb of the stage, Le Svolte di Popoli (9 km at 5.5%, GPM2), which comes after just 11 km from the start. The climb leads to a plateau featuring mainly false flats, along with the first intermediate sprint in L'Aquila. After the easy climb and descent of Sella di Como there are almost 70 km of flattish terrain, that finish with the second and final climb of the day, Valico della Somma (6.7 km at 4.9%, GPM4), which tops at 41 km to go. The first 11 going slightly downhill to the second intermediate sprint of Spoleto, and then the last 30 km totally flat. The finish is a bit tricky for a sprint stage, with 2 dangerous bends just across the red triangle mark.

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The Climbs:

Le Svolte di Popoli GPM2
This climb should not be GPM2, to be honest. I guess the organizers want to make it worth more KOM points in order to provide an incentive for the breakaway... No official profile for this climb, but we have Cyclingcols.com
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Valico della Somma GPM4
This climb has been used the last time the Giro went to Foligno, in 2014. It is really nothing special. In fact, the organizers do not provide a profile for this one as well. But we have Salite.ch
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What to expect:
This is good for a breakaway, but it depends on how ambitious are the sprinter teams. Even pure sprinters could survive a slow pace on the last climb, so if the peloton keeps the breakaway in check, this should come down to a bunch sprint.

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Re: Test

STAGE 8: Foligno – Arezzo 186 km

Stage start: 12.25 CET, 14 May

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Technical Overview:
The Giro comes back to the white roads of Tuscany, although not really the ones that are featured in the Strade Bianche. From Foligno, the riders will soon hit the short climb of Assisi and then will head towards Tuscany through a very long and uneventful (apart from the intermediate sprint) flat valley, before finally climbing the first categorized climb of the day, Valico della Scheggia (6 km at 3.8%, GPM3). After its short descent, another 30 km long flat section to reach the finishing line in Arezzo. From there, the riders will start a circuit of 32 km, to be ridden only once, that includes the climb of Alpe di Poti (8.6 km at 6.4%, GPM2). Only the first 2.1 km of this climb are on tarmac, while the rest is on sterrato. The climb features a flat section in the middle and at the top, without which the average gradient would be much higher. The top is at 19 km to go, 12 of descent, and 6 of flat to reach the red triangle mark. The last km is uphill (average 5%), with pretty tough gradients at the very first ramps and then easier slopes all the way to the finish.

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The Climbs:

Scheggia GPM3
Giving third category to this climb is a bit sad. It is just a false flat. No official profile... but it is on Salite.ch
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Alpe di Poti GPM2
Very interesting climb, with a very steep first ramp, in the middle of which the sterrato starts, ramping up to 14% almost at the beginning. After the first ramp, 1.5 km of false flat and another ramp, not as steep as the first one, but still pretty good. It is the first time it is ridden in the Giro.
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What to expect:
A big selection and hopefully GC attacks. The sterrato will make the final climb very demanding, also in its flattish sections. The descent will be a factor too, and the flat before the final km is very short, so there are all the ingredients for a great race. The only flaw is what comes the following day.

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Re: Test

STAGE 9: Radda in Chianti – Greve in Chianti 40.5 km ITT

Stage start: 12.35 CET, 15 May

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Technical Overview:
The Giro continues its trend of wine-themed time trials with a twisty, rolling ITT set in the Chianti area. With its moderate length and complicated terrain, this TT will help the climbers limit their losses with respect to the specialists. The biggest hamper to the specialists will be the almost complete absence of straights: the course is filled with bends and hairpins, making it look strikingly similar to the first sector of the Saltara 2013 ITT. The terrain is not as hard as it looks however, as the profile has been “doped”, to make it look hillier than it really is, by stretching the altitude axis. Over the whole course there are only a few ramps that go beyond 5%. For example, the final hill measures 4.9 km at an average of 3.6%, with the first 3.5 km at an average of 4.5%... it is quite easy really.. Furthermore, the final ramp of the same hill, the one that ends in Panzano in Chianti, does not exist. I have no clue how they managed, but they messed it up, just look at the altitudes: a gain of 11m over 1.3 km... less than 1%. And before you ask, yes, the altitudes are correct, it is the profile that is wrong. Apart from this geeky remark, the final descent is very gentle but technical just as all the stage is.

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What to expect:
The specialists to do their thing, and the best bike handlers between the GC guys to do extraordinarily well (I'm thinking about Nibali and Valverde). Gaps will not be too big, though. The winner will make it in around 55'.

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Re: Test

STAGE 10: Campi Bisenzio – Sestola 219 km

Stage start: 11.10 CET, 17 May

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Technical Overview:
Extremely serious medium mountain stage, long and with lots of climbing, coming just after a rest day. Starting from Tuscany, the peloton will cross the Apennines almost from the get go, as the first climb of the day, Passo della Collina (12.7 km at 5.3%, GPM3), comes after just 22 km from the start. Following its fast descent and some km in the valley, comes the second climb, Pietracolora (8.7 km at 6.1%, GPM3). At the top there is a short false flat, and then a very technical downhill that will bring everybody down the valley again. Here, a series of irregular 3-6% slopes will bring the riders up again, from 150m to over 800m, leading into a long and very rough terrain, full of ramps and descents, featuring the two intermediate sprints of the day. At 32 km to go the final part of the stage begins, with the ascent to Pian del Falco (16.3 km at 5.2%, GPM1), whose real difficulty is due to its final 4 km, just after the town of Sestola, which average 8.9%. The descent of this climb is very difficult, and leads to the final very gentle climb back to Sestola (7.45 km at 5%, GPM3).

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The Climbs:

Passo della Collina GPM3
A very, very constant climb. Will be good for the formation of a strong breakaway. Once again, no official profile. We go with Salite.ch
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Pietracolora GPM3
It is shorter and slightly steeper than the previous climb. That's pretty much all I can say here, because I have no profile :D

Pian del Falco GPM1
This climb is generally considered as starting from Sestola, which makes it a steep, 4 km wall. However, this year RCS includes quite a long section in the official profile, something hard to justify, but whatever. This climb became famous thanks to the victory of Fuente when it was stage finish in 1971.
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Sestola GPM3
A long, easy drag all the way to the town.
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What to expect:
This has the potential to be a great stage. Pian del Falco is not hard enough for a solo attack to stick, but a small selected gc group should be able to get away. The final climb will be good to increase the gap, or alternatively to favor attacks from second tiers. This will of course be a very good stage for the breakaway, if the gc guys don't bother keeping the peloton close.

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Re: Test

STAGE 11: Modena – Asolo 227 km

Stage start: 11.45 CET, 18 May

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Technical Overview:
Flat stage with a very interesting finale. From Modena, the peloton will cross the Po valley towards north for 205 km, totally flat, whose only slightly interesting part will be the two intermediate sprints. However, as soon as they reach the town of Maser, the road will finally go up. Forcella Mostaccin (2.9 km at 7.8%, GPM4) is a pretty serious climb, with the last 900m at over 10%. At the top there will be 19 km to go, beginning with a very twisty and technical descent. Straight after it, the little climb to Monfumo (1.3 km at 5.8%), which top at exactly 13 km to go. What follow are 8 km of rolling terrain, ultimately descending into Casonetto, where the last little climb of the day starts, the road to the historic center of Asolo (1.45 km at 6%), which tops at 3.5 km to go. From there it's all downhill and the final km, straight and flat.

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The Climbs:

Forcella Mostaccin GPM4
Quite a nice, short wall, getting really steep at the end.
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What to expect:
Stage hunters for the win. I do not think pure sprinters can stay with the best. At this point of the race there should still be enough one-day racers interested in a stage win, so I do not think the break will make it.

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Re: Test

STAGE 12: Noale – Bibione 182 km

Stage start: 13.00 CET, 19 May

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Technical Overview:
Do you remember the stage to Jesolo of last year's Giro? The one I called “Flattest stage ever”? Well, this is its brother. Almost twins. Same area, same flatness. But is this the new flattest stage ever? Or is the title still in the hands of last year's stage? That's the important question.
This stage is less flat, I'd say. It has a solid 40m of altitude gain, while the 2015 stage didn't look like more than 20 (because it was mostly downhill). However, this year's stage will be lower, with the highest point at 38m above sea level against the 55m of last year. As a matter of fact, this stage is even lower than the two road stages in the Low Countries, being surpassed only by the prologue. Hence, I'll call this the lowest road stage ever.
Besides these very important issues, not much else to say, apart from the fact that there is a silly city circuit to be ridden twice at the end, and that there's a 90 degrees turn at 300m to go. Because you know, safety first!

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What to expect:
Mass cra... huh... sprint. Mass sprint.

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Re: Test

STAGE 13: Palmanova – Cividale del Friuli 170 km

Stage start: 12.30 CET, 20 May

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Technical Overview:
The Giro hits the Alps with an extremely hard low mountain stage. Starting from the pretty citadel of Palmanova (see picture at the bottom), the riders will head almost directly to the finishing town of Cividale, where they'll have to get back twice, later in the day. After little less than 50 km of flat roads, the peloton will hit the first GPM (arguably the hardest) of the day, the GPM1 of Montemaggiore (8.3 km at 9.3%), which is just part of the mighty Matajur. Luckily for the riders, they will not have to climb all of it (since there would be no way to descend), instead they will tackle the first of a series of narrow and twisty descents that might very well be the key factor of this stage. After this first descent comes the little climb of the Passo di San Martino (uncategorized, 2.5 km at 7.6%), and then another descent, shorter but steeper than the first one... a descent that is even mentioned in the official website as “challenging”, so go figure.
Whoever is still upright will then start climbing again, towards the GPM2 Crai(8.8 km at 6.3%), which features a very steep first half and it flattens out all the way to the top. This climb is followed by roughly 10 km of descending false flat, and then by a short proper descent that will bring the peloton to almost sea level.
Here starts the weakest section of the stage, where the peloton will make the second of the three passages in Cividale and move to north-west, for a total of around 30 flat km, all the way to the intermediate sprint in the town of Attimis, where the final part of the stage begins. The GPM1 Cima Porzus (8.7 km at 8.2%) is the key point of this stage, with its last 7 km at 9% that are very well suited to be the launching pad for a GC attack. The top of the climb is at 31.5 km from the finishing line, a challenging but not unreasonable distance. The following descent, technical just like all the others here, measures 11 km and connects seamlessly with the final climb of the day, the GPM2 Valle(6.2 km at 7.8%). This last climb is also hard enough to favor GC attacks, if necessary. At the top there will be only 14 km to go, roughly 6.5 km of descent and 7.5 km of flat and easy roads.

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The Climbs:
With 2700m of altitude gain, 2 GPM1 and 2 GPM2, this is definitely the hillier stage of the Giro at this point. It's quite interesting to note that all these climbs are new to the Giro.

Montemaggiore (Matajur) GPM1
The average gradient of this climb is lowered by its reasonable initial ramps, that average 6.6% for 2.5 km. However, the road then kicks up to an average of 10.5% (pretty constant) over the remaining 6 km. As indicated within brackets, this road is the first part of a bigger climb, the Matajur, a one-way climb that tops 4 km further up the road, with a gradient slightly lower than 10%. As a whole it is a heck of a climb, comparable to the Mortirolo. This is the first time the Giro even gets near it.
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Crai GPM2
This climb starts with a very steep ramp of 4 km at 9.7% and then suddenly becomes a false flat, measuring 4.8 km at only 3.6%
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Cima Porzus GPM1
Just like Montemaggiore, this climb features an easy first section that lowers its statistics. However, its 7 km at 9% are quite easily noticeable at a glance. Here the gradient is not constant, as there is an easier section at 7-8% about two thirds up the climb, and then a very steep section straight after it. The latter is probably the best spot to launch an attack.
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Valle GPM2
Guess what, this climb also has an easy first ramp. The serious part of this climb measures a pretty decent 5 km at 8.5%, short enough to not be scary, but steep enough to be selective.
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What to expect:
The first all-out GC battle. Of course, being the first of three consecutive days in the mountains, this stage might be disregarded by the riders, but it would be really stupid as it provides plenty of terrain to use to attack. A GC rider willing to attack will be free to do so pretty much anywhere from 40 km to go, climbing, descending or even on the flat before the finish. Worst case scenario, I cannot expect more than 5-6 riders in the GC group in Cividale.

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Re: Test

STAGE 14: Farra d'Alpago – Corvara in Alta Badia 210 km

Stage start: 11.05 CET, 21 May

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Technical Overview:
The Queen stage! Yes, the queen stage. Despite not having such a threatening profile as stage 20 has, and despite being squeezed in the middle of a 3-days mountain raid, this 210 km long stage is definitely the hardest of the whole race, with its respectable length and 6 categorized climbs, for a total of ~4800m altitude gain.
Starting from the town of Farra d'Alpago, the peloton will head towards the Dolomites, gaining altitude slowly but surely, to reach the town of Caprile. Here, the ramps will start to be irregular, with pretty steep slopes alternating with flat section. After climbing roughly 1200m, from the 400m of Farra to the 1600 of the town of Arabba, the proper stage starts. The peloton enters the route of the famous “Maratona Dles Dolomites”, the famous Granfondo that is raced every year on these roads. We are on the Sella Ronda, a loop of 4 climbs. The first one is a classic of the Giro history: the Passo Pordoi (9.25 km at 6.9%, GPM1) from this side is a top category climb only if you consider all the climbing the peloton has already done to reach Arabba. Topping at over 2200m, after having incessantly climbed 1800m already, legs will feel heavy. After a short descent full of hairpins, the peloton turns north to climb the Passo Sella (5.55 km at 7.9%, GPM2), going over the 2200m level again, before heading downhill into the Gardena valley. Here the riders will turn east to climb the final few km of the Passo Gardena (5.75 km at 4.3%, GPM3), whose average gradient is lowered by a flat middle section. After a very technical descent, the peloton enters the Badia valley and reach the town of Corvara, where the finishing line is. There is still a long way to go though. From Corvara the riders will head south to the last climb of the Sella Ronda, the Passo Campolongo (6 km at 5.8%, GPM2), which with its 1875m of altitude is by far the lowest of the stage. A very short discent will close the loop, bringing everyone to Arabba again. Here the terrain becomes quite irregular, with a false flat section and a couple of little climbs, the latter being the Colle S.Lucia, famous for being the entering hallway of the mythical Passo Giau (9.85m at 9.4%, GPM1). Topping at 2236m above sea level and at 41 km to go, this is the key point of the stage. Its descent brings the riders to the last categorized climb of the day, the Passo Valparola (11.5 km at 5.8%, GPM2), that will behave as the standard “easy” climb after the much harder previous climb. A bit like the Mortirolo – Aprica combo, only at 2200m of altitude. The descent of the Valparola is quite technical at the beginning but becomes easier pretty soon. It finishes at 5 km to go, but the fun will not be over yet. In fact, those 5 km begin with a short wall called Muro del Gatto, 360m at 13.1% (19% max), and then continue with an ascending false flat all the way to Corvara.

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The Climbs:
4800m altitude gain (at least) makes this the hardest stage of the Giro climbing-wise. Two GPM1, three GPM2 and one GPM3, all in the heart of the Dolomites.

Passo Pordoi GPM1
This climb is part of the Giro history. Ridden 37 times in the Giro, it has been MTF 4 times, the first in 1990 (winner Charly Mottet), 1991 (Franco Chioccioli), 1996 (Enrico Zaina), and 2001 (Perez Cuapio). Due to its altitude, that makes it marginally higher than all its neighbors, it has also been Cima Coppi for an impressive number of 17 times.
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Passo Sella GPM2
Much less famous than its brother Pordoi, this pass has been ridden 13 times in the Giro, being Cima Coppi only twice, the last time in 1998, when Pantani won the price and got the jersey after the descent.
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Passo Gardena GPM3
Sharing pretty much the same Giro history as the Sella (many times being ridden the same stage as its neighbor), this freakishly long pass will not be ridden entirely... Its overall numbers from the very bottom are 31 km at 5.3%... unfortunately on this day the riders will have to face only the final 6 km or so.
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Passo Campolongo GPM2
The last climb of the Sella Ronda, the Campolongo is much lower than all its neighbors.
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Passo Giau GPM1
One of the most famous Dolomite passes, the Giau has actually been ridden only 7 times in the Giro, the first in 1973, with Fuente being the first on the top. Its fame is very recent, being ridden 4 times between 2007 and 2012, and being planned but cancelled due to snow in 2013.
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Passo Valparola GPM2
This climb has been ridden only 5 times in the Giro history, the last one in 2012. Worth remembering its 1992 appearance, featuring pretty much the same finale of this year, with Franco Vona getting the win and Indurain securing its pink jersey.
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Muro del Gatto
Never raced in the Giro, this wall is a recent addition to the Maratona.
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What to expect:
This is tough to call. As I said, I consider this the queen stage, but will the riders do the same? Will they be scared of the MTT? Will they be spent after Cividale? Will any GC guy need a big time gain? We don't know yet.

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Re: Test

STAGE 15: Castelrotto – Alpe di Siusi 10.8 km MTT

Stage start: 13.20 CET, 22 May

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Technical Overview:
After two very demanding mountain stages, a MTT. Really, really bad idea.
At least, it is not very hard in itself. Less than 11 km long (the proper climb being only 9km) and without crazy gradients, it shouldn't be a big problem for the riders.
Starting from the village of Castelrotto, already halfway the proper climb of Siusi, each rider will have 1.8 km of ascending false flat before motoring up the hill. The climbing section measures 9 km at 8.3% average, featuring very constant ramps, that start fairly easy for the first 2 km and then become 9% all the way up until the easier final km. There is a pretty odd checkpoint at the 4.4 mark, which basically comprises the flat section and the first easy slopes. It could be only one third of the total time, which makes it almost useless to give a real indication of what is going on.

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The Climbs:
Well... only one today, as you would expect.

Alpe di Siusi GPM1
This climb is much bigger than the version they'll climb this year. The whole climb to Alpe di Siusi can be done from two sides, which share exactly the final 9 km stretch that will be ridden. The side from Prato all'Isarco is the only one ever ridden in the Giro, featured as MTF in the 2009 edition. It measures roughly 25 km at 6%, with a pretty long flat middle section. However, the other side, from Ponte Gardena, is much more challenging, with 16 km at 8.5%.

What to expect:
It is a MTT, meaning everybody will give it their all, no question. Gaps should be decent but nothing out of this world. Winner in under 25'.

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Re: Test

STAGE 16: Bressanone – Andalo 132 km

Stage start: 13.40 CET, 24 May

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Technical Overview:
After the final rest day, the Giro goes for the shortest stage of this edition. Despite being rated only 3 stars by the organizers, this is actually a very tricky stage, considering that it comes straight out a rest day and should be ridden very fast. The peloton will start the day descending gently for 45 km, before hitting a few decent 5% ramps that will bring them to Appiano, where the first real ascent begins. The Passo della Mendola (14.8 km at 6.5%, GPM2) is long and constant, perfect as a warm up but nothing more, considering the top is at 68 km to go. The descent is very fast and irregular, and soon becomes just a descending false flat. After about 35 km of this kind of terrain, the riders enter the real test of the day, the climb to Fai della Paganella (10.25 km at 7.4%, GPM2). This climb has very constant slopes at 8% for the first 8.5 km, before flattening out and having one last 15% kick at the top. After the GPM there still one km of easy climbing, up to the village of Santel, where the very short descent start: only 2.5 km without particular problems. After that, the riders will face a 2 km long false flat and then the last bit of climbing of the stage, all the way up to Andalo (4.1 km at 3.8%, GPM3). This climb features a decent first half, with 2.5 km at 6.2%, and then a totally flat final section of 1.6 km that leads to the finishing line.

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The Climbs:

Passo della Mendola GPM2
A classic in the Giro, it was actually missing since 2004. Very constant and solid climb, but without anything to make it stand out.
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Fai della Paganella GPM2
Much steeper that the first climb, it is not a classic at all, having been ridden only twice in the Giro, in 1973 and 1993.
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Andalo GPM3
The organizers categorized the finish too, and you can see the profile in the final kms graph. A short, 6% ramp and then just flat. GPM3 is even too much.

What to expect:
This could be a very important stage if one of the GC contenders has the usual day off after the rest day. In any case, I do expect a nice show, considering that Fai della Paganella is an excellent spot for attacking and the following terrain doesn't prevent a solo action.

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Re: Test

STAGE 17: Molveno – Cassano d'Adda 196 km

Stage start: 12.35 CET, 25 May

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Technical Overview:
Unofficial rest day for the peloton, just before the final rush into the Alps. There is only one categorized climb, Passo S.Eusebio (7.3 km at 3.5%, GPM4), very easy and very far from the finish. There is actually another climb, much earlier in the day, starting in Tione di Trento, with roughly 5 km at 5%, uncategorized for no reason. In any case, the last 86 km of this stage are dead flat. There is only one tricky bend in the last 5 km, and it is at just 600m to go, so it might be a problem.

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The Climbs:

Passo S.Eusebio GPM4
We've got only this profile from salite.ch, although the numbers don't quite match. They will probably do a slightly different variant.
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What to expect:
Bunch sprint.

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Re: Test

STAGE 18 Muggiò – Pinerolo 240 km

Stage start: 11.15 CET, 26 May

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Technical Overview:
Here comes the longest stage of the race, just before the final couple of decisive stages. As a matter of fact, this stage can be included in the “decisive stage” definition, as it is far from easy. Starting from one of the many satellite-towns of Milan, the riders will head west all day long, going through Turin, where they'll be back on the last day, and will reach the town of Tivoli, and the second intermediat sprint, after 164 km of dead flat roads, slightly ascending only in the last 20 km. From there, the peloton will start to ride on a pretty rough terrain, culminating with the small, uncategorized climb of Coletta di Cumiana. After its descent, the riders will be only 20 km away from the mythical town of Pinerolo. Here, they will climb for the first time the cobbled wall of S.Maurizio (450m at 14.5%, max 20%), at 28 km to go. After that, they will leave Pinerolo and tackle another wall... this time a slightly bigger. The climb of Pramartino (4.65 km at 10.5%, GPM2) will be raced from the side that was descended in 2009 and 2011, much steeper than the other. The descent is very technical just like the other side, and ends 13 km to go. After 10 km of flat roads the riders will enter Pinerolo again, and will climb San Maurizio again, topping it at only 2 km to go. After 500m of a short but not easy downhill, the last 1.5 km are flat.

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The Climbs:

Pramartino GPM2
Featured in the Giro 2009 and the Tour 2011, this is the first time it will be climbed from the side of Pinerolo. This side is really something, with consistent 10% slopes from start to end.
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What to expect:
A big selection on Pramartino and the victory to be decided on the cobbles. Pramartino is very hard but I do not think the top gc guys will be able to attack each other. They may do so only on S.Maurizio, but in this case the gaps will be minimal.

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Re: Test

STAGE 19: Pinerolo – Risoul 162 km MTF

Stage start: 12.45 CET, 27 May

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Technical Overview:
The only top category MTF of the race, along with the Cima Coppi. Starting from Pinerolo, the stage doesn't offer any difficulty until km 50, with the first intermediate sprint in Piasco. From there, the road starts going up a little, always at 1-3% for 25 km, until the town of Sampeyre, famous for its homonym climb, where the other intermediate sprint is placed. Here the gradient keeps increasing very steadily, never surpassing 4-5% until just arriving into Casteldelfino, where the Cima Coppi 2016 starts officially. The mighty Colle dell'Agnello (21.3 km at 6.8%, CC), topping at 2744m above sea level after a gruesome final 9 km at almost 10% average, is basically equivalent to putting a Giau on top of Sestriere. The top also marks the border between Italy and France. From there on, it's a very fast downhill of 20 km, before hitting a descending false flat in the valley, 24 km long. Finally, after reaching Guillestre, the road rises up again, and will not flatten out anymore. The climb to the ski station of Risoul (12.8 km at 6.9%, GPM1) is far from being a crazy hard MTF, but in this edition is by far the hardest.

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The Climbs:

Colle dell'Agnello CC
One of the most mythical passes of the Alps, this monster has been climbed only 3 times in the Giro, the last in 2007, and twice in the Tour, in 2008 and 2011. Its last section, 9 really steep km at high altitude, will do damage, even in case of conservative racing. And let's not forget, it is the Cima Coppi 2016.
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Risoul GPM1
Solid climb, last featured in the Tour 2014, with steeper gradients in the end.
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What to expect:
Either an awesome stage or a very sad one. The false flat between the Agnello and Guillestre will likely kill any attack, so unless the GC situation does not force it, there won't be any. However Risoul is a pretty decent MTF, so the worst case scenario will still be ok.

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Re: Test

STAGE 20: Guillestre – S.Anna di Vinadio 134 km

Stage start: 12.45 CET, 28 May

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Technical Overview:
As it is tradition at the Giro, stage 20 is the final GC showdown. Very short but very high and demanding, with over 4100m of altitude gain... and almost completely in France, which is not traditional.
The road will go up from the very first km, with the first climb of the day, an old friend of the Giro: the Col de Vars (18.25 km at 6%, GPM1) is quite a tough climb, whose average gradient suffers from having a flat section in the middle (a remark I probably wrote too many times already in this analysis... don't worry, this is the last one). It also features the first intermediate sprint, Station de Vars, at km 14. After the top, a very short and beautiful descent will bring the riders down the valley, with 13 km of descending false flat to reach the town of Jausiers, where the Col de la Bonette (22.25 km at 6.7%, GPM1) starts. This is a long, very constant and very high pass, so high in fact that riding it to the top would make it the highest Cima Coppi ever. Which is obviously not cool. Therefore, they will ride only to the proper Col, at 2715m, avoiding the little loop that would bring them to the Cime, at 2802m. The descent of this giant is long and fast, and has some very technical sections, so it could be a factor. After it there are 15 km of another descending false flat to arrive to the town of Isola, where the second intermediate sprint is, and the last top category climb of the Giro starts. The Col de la Lombarde (19.85 km at 7.5%, GPM1), that will bring everyone back to Italy, is the last chance for the riders to make a difference. The first ramps are actually the most serious, followed by an easier middle section and a demanding final part. However, all sections include solid ramps and the altitude will be a factor of ever increasing importance. Finally back in Italian territory, the riders will face a short but technical (and narrow) descent of 8 km, before climbing the final GPM of the Giro, the climb to the sanctuary of S.Anna di Vinadio (2.35 km at 8.1%, GPM3). This is basically a high altitude wall, with its central 1.5 km at 9.7%, that flattens out a bit at the top.

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The Climbs:

Col de Vars GPM1
An absolute classic in the Tour, this climb has been also climbed many times in the Giro, in particular in the most famous Cuneo-Pinerolo stage (but from the opposite side). This side is really tough, featuring long and steep ramps.
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Col de la Bonette GPM1
The highest mountain pass in Europe (if ridden to the very top), it is a very long and quite constant climb, always around 7%, with easier slopes at the beginning and at the end. Quite rarely raced at the Tour, it will be at the Giro for the first time ever.
PW_T20_S02_Bonette.jpg


Col de la Lombarde GPM1
Another long and tough climb, with a easier middle section. It does not feature the crazy gradients that are common in the Giro, but it is still a worthy final GPM1 of the race.
PW_T20_S03_Lombarda.jpg


S.Anna di Vinadio GPM3
The final climb of the Giro, a short and steep Alpine wall. The altitude will make it much harder than the profile (which can be seen in the final km graph) suggests.

What to expect:
The final battle, of course. The Col de Vars will be ridden at a blistering pace, due to the breakaway forming (and a huge lot of GPM points at stake) and the intermediate sprint being there. And then the Lombarde to decide the GC. Anything less than the GC guys attacking each other halfway the Lombarde would be massively disappointing, and anything more would be a huge surprise, since the false flat that surrounds the Bonette should discourage meaningful attacks there. The final wall will be good only to decide the winner in case no one is able to drop everybody else on the Lombarde, but it will not make any meaningful gaps.

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Re: Test

STAGE 21: Cuneo – Torino 163 km

Stage start: 12.45 CET, 29 May

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Technical Overview:
The usual (recently) final flat parade. There is a little bump in the final circuit but the riders will hardly notice it.

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What to expect:
The final parade, of course. And the podium.

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