Eshnar said:STAGE 18: Moena – Ortisei/St.Ulrich 137 km
START TIME: 13.00 CEST
The Dolomitic stage of the 100th Giro is a very short one, and although it features the classic number of 5 climbs, it does look a bit underwhelming compared to what a Dolomitic stage is used to mean. That said, this is still a pretty serious stage, that starts very hard right off the bat, as after 14 km of a gentle uphill drag along the Val di Fassa the riders will face the first climb of the day, the Passo Pordoi (GPM1, 11.8 km at 6.8%), a pass that is GPM1 only due to its prestige, as it has been Cima Coppi the most times in history. After its descent, only a few flattish kms will lead to the start of the climb to Passo Valparola (GPM2, 12.2 km at 6.4%), which will be ridden from a different side than they raced last year, while the descent will be the same. The riders will follow pretty much the same route to reach the town of Corvara, where they'll find the third climb of the day, Passo Gardena (GPM2, 9.3 km at 6.4%), that will bring them to the valley with the same name. After a fairly easy 18 km long descent, the peloton will reach the finishing town of Ortisei, but they'll not be finished yet. Instead, they will start climbing again, to Passo Pinei (GPM3, 4.2 km at 6.3%), much shorter and irregular than its predecessors, featuring some serious gradients in its central section. After this little climb, 15 km of descent and just a couple of flat will bring everyone to the beginning of the final climb, the one to Pontives (GPM1, 9.3 km at 6.8%), whose gradients get increasingly high, as its last 3 km have an average of 9.3%. Following this climb there is no descent, just a gentle drag of only 4 km to the finishing line of Ortisei, with a short but really steep ramp (~100m at 13%) at 500m to go.
Passo Pordoi GPM1
One of the greatest classics of the Giro. This is the opposite side of 2016, longer but with pretty much the same gradient. Profile below.
Passo Valparola GPM2
Another classic climb, from this side (different than last year, although the descent is the same) has pretty similar numbers to the Pordoi.
Passo Gardena GPM2
The east side of this other famous climb is really short (with respect to the west side) but with decent gradients.
Passo Pinei GPM3
This pass hasn't been used frequently, especially in recent times. From this side it has a steep ramp, but it's too short to deserve anything more than GPM3. Profile below.
An alternative route of the Passo Gardena, it was used last time in 2005, again as last climb, when Savoldelli attacked and gained the pink jersey from a struggling Basso, with a move that would prove crucial for his ultimate win.
What to expect:
This stage has definitely potential, but the fact that the final climb is also the hardest one will probably discourage attacks from far out. However, there is virtually no flat and the climbs, albeit not super hard, are surely enough if somebody want to go. Especially if the start is crazy fast, with the daily breakaway and all. Let's hope for a great spectacle.
May 26th, 1937. Almost exactly 80 years ago. It was stage 16 of that Giro, from Vittorio Veneto to Merano, 227 km with two climbs in the middle: Passo Rolle and Passo Costalunga. Two passes in the heart of the mountain range called "the Dolomites" (from the name of the mineral that makes most of those rocks), where the Giro had never been before. They were nothing more than mountain paths, with no tarmac, full of holes and stones. The Dolomites are also called "the Pale Mountains", as on the sunset they exhibit a very distinctive light pink color. Perfect for the Giro. That day, the pink jersey was one of the greats: Gino Bartali. He was dominating the race and dominated that stage as well. He attacked at the first hairpin of Passo Rolle, at over 100 km to go. He arrived in Merano alone, with over 5' of advantage.
That was the beginning of the love story between cycling and those mountains. The Dolomites have featured pretty much in most editions of the Giro ever since. The Dolomite climb that has been raced the most is Passo Pordoi: it has been ridden 38 times, and it is the climb that has been Cima Coppi the most times in history (17). The first time the Pordoi was raced was in 1940, on a very short stage from Pieve di Cadore to Ortisei. The winner, again, was Bartali, but the pink jersey was Fausto Coppi.