• The Cycling News forum is looking to add some volunteer moderators with Red Rick's recent retirement. If you're interested in helping keep our discussions on track, send a direct message to @SHaines here on the forum, or use the Contact Us form to message the Community Team.

    In the meanwhile, please use the Report option if you see a post that doesn't fit within the forum rules.


Giro d'Italia Giro d'Italia 2024 Stage 2: San Francesco al Campo – Santuario di Oropa (Biella), 161.0 km

By @Devil's Elbow: https://forum.cyclingnews.com/threads/giro-ditalia-2024-stage-by-stage-analysis.39628/#post-3000260

Stage 2: San Francesco al Campo – Santuario di Oropa (Biella), 161.0k

The second stage is the venue for the Annual Pantani Remembrance Event. More importantly, it’s the hardest MTF ever seen on the opening weekend of a GT.

The route



The start is from San Francesco al Campo, a small and rather unassuming town just northwest of Turin most notable for its velodrome. It has never hosted the men’s race before, but the women have been here in 2011 for the race-ending TT won by Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. This was her 13th and final Giro stage win, putting her fifth on the all-time list – Marianne Vos, who secured her second of three GC titles that day, leads at an incredible 32.

The neutralisation takes us through San Maurizio Canavese, birthplace of Giovanni Brunero. In a slightly different world, he would likely have been much better-known as one of the Giro’s greatest. However, unfortunately for him, he came up against first Girardengo and then Binda. Despite this, he did manage to win three Giri, as well as managing one second place against both campionissimi (against Girardengo by the smallest margin pre-WWII, against Binda by almost half an hour). Retirement wasn’t exactly luckier for him: he died in 1934 of a chronic lung disease, aged just 39.

Moving back to the present, the first half of the stage is a straightforward trek through the Po valley. This section ends with an intermediate sprint in Valdengo, from where the going becomes much harder. First, we have some uncategorised climbing to the Intergiro sprint at Crocemosso (the main section is just under 3k at a little over 5%), then it’s on to the first KOM of the day at Oasi Zegna. Averaging a very consistent 5.4%, it’s the first 5.6k of the profile below.


This immediately backs into the next climb, to Nelva. At 3.2k and 7%, it’s also a tad more irregular than its predecessor.


There’s a brief flat before the intermediate sprint in Biella, then it’s immediately on to the MTF. Oropa is a UNESCO-inscribed sanctuary, mostly baroque but having served a religious purpose since the early Middle Ages. This will be the seventh ascent in the Giro. The most famous one is of course Pantani’s win in 1999, where a dropped chain caused him to fall to 50th, only for him to overtake all 49 riders ahead of him and win anyway. The most recent Giro stage win here, by Dumoulin in 2017, wasn’t half bad either - it’s strange to think that all the protagonists of that GC battle are either retired or seemingly finished. However, the most recent victor here is in fact Egan Bernal, in the 2019 edition of Gran Piemonte.


The actual climb makes for a very solid MTF, the overall gradient being brought down by the inclusion of the initial drag. The final 6.8k average 7.9%, and even that section isn’t exactly consistent with three separate 500-metre sections in the double digits and two bits where the gradient drops off completely.



What to expect?

This climb always produces at least some daylight between the main GC contenders, so even if there are likely no questions regarding the overall victory to be answered, we should get a good indication of who will be the best of the rest. The GC action not being for the stage win would not be a surprise given how often the break has taken the first mountain stage in recent years.

Oh, and we’ll see how Pogacar compares to Pantani. Il Pirata naturally holds the record at 17:04, but Dumoulin was only 33 seconds off in 2017…
Last edited:
Oropa is a thoroughly 'meh' climb that if it weren't for Pantani, nobody would even give a second glance to.

However, this kind of early-race "sort the contenders from the pretenders" stage where it's mostly a one-climb shootout and should see a hierarchy created but unlikely to see gaps between the true contenders extend to much unless Pog goes full Pantani is an absolutely perfect use of it.
i doubt UAE want the jersey already, i think the breakaway will win the stage and take pink tomorrow
I would love a fuga bidone with some decent riders getting a massive gap tomorrow. But I guess it's not the most likely stage for it. Breakaway win will still be nice though. Sometimes two races for the top is better than just one.

In any case, with how weak UAE seemed today, I'm starting to think this Giro could become more interesting than first anticipated. Not because I think Pogacar will be beaten, but there could be some good chaos ensuing quite often. Unless a strong team consolidates 2nd place or UAE's early weakness is just a US Postal at Gerardmer kinda thing.
  • Like
Reactions: Sandisfan