Eshnar said:Stage 14: Saint Vincent - Courmayeur 131 km
Saturday, May 25th
START TIME: 13.10 CEST
FINISH TIME: ~17.15 CEST
The penultimate weekend opens with a short but very hard stage in the Aosta valley, straight after an already very demanding stage. Starting from the town of Saint Vincent, the first climb of the day comes soon, in just 7 km. Verrayes (GPM2, 6.7 km at 8%) is just the first section of the well known Col de Saint Panthaleon, ridden in the last year's Giro. This year they climb it only up to the town of Verrayes, and then get back down to the main valley where they have just come from. After a rather technical descent of 9 km, the peloton hits the easiest part of the stage, a 14 km long stroll on the flat at the bottom of the valley, passing through the town of Aosta itself, after which the road will go up again for the second GPM of the day, Verrogne (GPM1, 13.8 km at 7.1%). Featuring in the Giro for the first time, this climb is quite demanding and irregular, with many steep ramps and easier sections. The descent is 15 km long, very technical and full of hairpins, especially at the bottom, and connects directly with the third climb of the stage, Truc d'Arbe (GPM2, 8.2 km at 7%). Also known as Combes, this climb is like a smaller version of Verrogne, having similar characteristics but being significantly shorter. Another technical descent leads again to the valley, where the riders will keep heading west for 7 km, after which they will take a small detour to the right to climb towards the village of La Salle, 2 km at 8%, just before getting back to the main road and turn left to enter the highlight climb of the day, which will likely decide the outcome. Colle San Carlo (GPM1, 10.5 km at 9.8%) is the second hardest climb of this edition. It is an extremely regular climb, with a gradient always between 9% and 11%, very rarely used in the Giro. The last time they raced here, it was 2006, and before that it was missing since 1973. This year, it tops at 26 km to go. The descent in on wide roads but has a very tricky first section (for reference, you can watch Basso's descent on the wet in 2006, probably the slowest descent of all time), a blistering fast second section and finally a slow final section with lots of hairpins. From the bottom of the descent there are only 8.3 km to go to reach Courmayeur (GPM3, 8 km at 3.2%), but they are quite complicated. After 1 km of false flat, the riders will hit a ramp of 3 km at 6% up to the town of Verrand, and then a 2 km flattish section to Courmayeur. The finish however is not in the middle of the town, but at the Skyway Monte Bianco station, which adds a 3 km of false flat hiding a 1 km ramp at 5% near the end.
Verrayes, GPM2, 6.7 km at 8%
Less than half of the road to Saint-Panthaleon. Short but quite demanding.
Verrogne, GPM1, 13.8 km at 7.1%
Solid climb, long and with some really tough ramps.
Truc d'Arbe, GPM2, 8.2 km at 7%
Tough climb, with a km of false flat in the middle that lowers its average gradient.
Colle San Carlo, GPM1, 10.5 km at 9.8%
A really steep and regular climb. The last time they raced it, in 2006, we had no live pictures due to horrible weather. Let's hope for something better this year.
Courmayeur, GPM3, 8 km at 3.2%
See the final km profile.
What to expect:
Full-blown carnage on San Carlo and then everyone by himself on the way to Courmayeur. I expect only pace on the previous climbs, as a climb as big as San Carlo will probably prevent the GC contenders to attack anywhere earlier.
Monte Bianco/Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. Courmayeur is at its foot.