Mountains. Lots of mountains. Will Almeida finally lose the jersey? Will Nibali matter? Will Kelderman remember he's Kelderman?
Stage 17: Bassano del Grappa – Madonna di Campiglio 203 km
Wednesday, October 21st, 10:20 CEST
A very weird mountain stage. The first half of it is extremely hard, while the second is much easier although the total altitude gain is still impressive. Starting from Bassano the peloton will head into the mountains fairly quickly, as the first categorized climb starts after 40 km of relatively flat roads. Forcella Valbona (GPM1, 21.9 km at 6.6%) has never been climbed in the Giro from this side. It is a very long and steady climb that will presumably feature a hard battle for the formation of the break of the day. Its descent has actually been raced in the Giro once: it’s the mythical Passo Coe, that was the decisive MTF of the 2002 Giro. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should definitely check it out. As a descent, it’s a rather long and fast one, with some technical sections especially at the end.
At the bottom there are only 10 km of flat before reaching the town of Aldeno and starting to climb again. This time is the even more mythical Monte Bondone (GPM1, 20.2 km at 6.8%), a classic climb that rose to fame thanks to the epic 1956 stage and was missing in the Giro since 2006. This side is different than the usual one though: while the classic side is extremely regular, this one features two harder ramps broken up by a false flat section. The descent is again long and quite technical at the end.
After reaching the bottom, a short ramp and a false flat will bring to the first intermediate sprint in Ponte Arche and then to the third climb of the day, Passo Durone (GPM3, 10.4 km at 6%), which would deserve something more than a third category, but does nevertheless pale in comparison to the first two climbs. A fast descent brings then to the worst part of the stage, a 17 km ascending false flat (with the second intermediate sprint in Caderzone Terme) leading into the final climb. Madonna di Campiglio (GPM1, 12.5 km at 5.7%) is a pretty steady and easy climb. The last time they arrived here, in 2015, they climbed beyond the town, with a few more steep kilometers. This year they won’t do that, and the stage will finish basically on a 2.5 km false flat.
Forcella Valbona: GPM1, 21.9 km at 6.6%
Never used in the Giro from this side. It’s long and pretty regular, without very steep ramps. Still quite a tough climb. The other side is the mythical Passo Coe, used only once, in 2002.
Monte Bondone: GPM1, 20.2 km at 6.8%
One of the absolute classics. This side was used in the stage to Andalo 1973, when Merckx won. But the iconic one is the northern side, the one made immortal by the 1956 stage in which Gaul won by over 8 minutes under a huge blizzard. Last time they raced here, in 2006, Basso crushed the field.
Passo Durone: GPM3, 10.4 km at 6%
A rather average climb, which looks worse compared to the first two.
Madonna di Campiglio: GPM1, 12.5 km at 5.7%
Infamous to cycling fans since 1999, It’s a rather easy climb that gets even easier at the end.
What to expect:
As much as I would love this to play out differently, I can only foresee a big break of the day that will take the win and some skirmishes between the GC favourites on the last climb. A proper attack here would require a team to set a serious pace throughout the stage and I don’t think many will be willing to do it, considering what’s in store tomorrow.
Madonna di Campiglio