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93rd Giro d'Italia - Parcours Preview Week 3
By Giles Belbin
Date: 5/23/2010
93rd Giro d'Italia - Parcours Preview Week 3

93rd Giro d'Italia  - Parcours Preview Week 3
The 93rd Giro d'Italia - Two Time Trials, Four Mountain Stages, Four Summit Finishes and one Maglia Rosa up for grabs: it's the final week of the 2010 Giro d'Italia

© 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

Two weeks into the race and it is time for the definitive third and final week of this year's Giro d'Italia. A mountain Time Trial kicks the week off, followed by a summit finish. A short, flat stage then gives the riders some respite before it's back into the mountains for two more summit finishes and, during the Giro's penultimate stage, the Cima Coppi - the prize awarded to the rider first over the high point of the three week race.

The race climaxes with a short technical Time Trial around the city of Verona. There are some classic looking stages here and four summit finishes will make for an exciting, eventful and pivotal final week of racing. Surely nothing can be taken for granted GC-wise in this year's race until the final pedal stroke has been turned in Verona. Here then is the Daily Peloton's guide to the final week of 2010's Girod'Italia.

2010 Giro d'Italia
Jersey Leaders - Stage 16

Maglia Rosa:  David Duran Arroyo Caisse d'Epargne
Maglia Rossa: Cadel Evans BMC Racing
KOM:  Matthew Lloyd  Omega Pharma/Lotto
U26:  Richie Porte Saxo Bank
Team:  Liquigas/Doimo
General Classification After Stage 15

Route Map

Graphic © 2010 Giro d'Italia

Stage 16 Tuesday 25th May; San Vigilio  - Plan de Corones, 12.9km TT

© 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

Perhaps the most difficult final week of a Grand Tour for some time starts as it means to go on with a brutal stage. At just 12.9km this is one of the shortest Time Trials the riders will ever face outside of a prologue, but it will also be one of the toughest, as it goes straight up one of the hardest climbs tackled by the professional peloton .

Plan de Corones is 13 kms of pain and suffering. The climb starts steadily but quickly rises up to 9% after a couple of kilometres or so. The gradient never really drops from then on, save for a short respite when it drops to around 3% at 10kms. The climb features a stretch at 20% around two thirds of the way up followed by an even tougher section a kilometre or so from the finish when it kicks up to 24%. With gradients like that what you want as a rider is a nice, smooth and slick road surface. It's a bit of shame then that 5kms of the Plan de Corones climb is on gravel. A shame for the riders it may be but it's great for those of us watching. It's simply going to be fantastic. We should be in for a treat.

Stage 17: Wednesday 26th May; Brunico - Peio Terme, 173km

© 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

Let's take the opportunity to recap a little shall we? Over the last three stages the peloton has climbed no fewer than six huge mountains, including at least two of the very toughest climbs in Europe. What they need is a nice restful day, a simple transition stage, nothing too tricky. What they get instead is another day in the mountains.

Compared with what has gone before and what is still to come this is one of the easier days, but that, as with everything in this final week, is all relative. The riders are eased into the stage with a long and gradual descent to the foot of the 1523m Passo delle Palade. There follows a 20km climb to the top of the pass and a 25 km descent.

As soon as the road stops going down it starts going up again, this time the riders face a 30km slog up to Peio Terme at 1393m. There's nothing overly taxing here, gradient wise, for the GC contenders, but it's sheer length could be a cause for discomfort. Coming as it does after a very tough couple of days and in advance of two more very difficult stages later in the week, it is likely that the favourites will let a breakaway go for the glory of a stage win as they content themselves with keeping a watchful eye on each other, preserving what energy they can for the tests still to come.

Stage 18; Thursday 27th May; Levico Terme-Brescia, 151km

© 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

At last, a nice short and simple stage for the riders. It will be welcomed by the peloton even if, for the rest of us, it might seem a little dull in comparison to the week's other fare. The stage starts in Levico Terme and runs south-west to Brescia. It's predominantly flat with just a couple of bumps along the way. If any sprinters have any energy left after dragging themselves kicking and screaming over the mountains then they will surely contest the win. If not.... well we might just have a slow-motion bunch finish.

Stage 19: Friday 28th May; Brescia - Aprica, 195km

© 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

With today's stage starting in yesterday's finish town of Brescia, the riders will be thankful that there was no lengthy transfer meaning they could all spend a bit more time resting in their hotel beds. Stage 19 is a run north before the route takes the peloton on a clockwise loop and taking in four climbs.

First up is the 1173m Aprica. At 14km long the Aprica has a modest average gradient of 3.5% but it does possess some evil sections of a maximum 15% incline. Once over the Aprica, the riders have a sharp descent before it's straight into climbing mode again as the ascend the Trivigno. At 1608m, the Trevigno climb is some 11km long with a leg-sapping average incline of 7.6%. The middle section of the climb zig-zags up the mountain before the road straightens out and the gradient softens as it approaches the top of the pass. There follows a rather technical descent as the road plunges straight back down to the valley floor.

No sooner than the riders have stopped descending then the road again kicks up as they start to climb the dreaded Mortirolo. It is just twenty years since this climb first featured in the Giro, but it has fast built a fearsome reputation. The climb of the Mortirolo tops out at 1854m and is a touch under 13km long.

The Mortirolo is a consistently steep climb, averaging at 10% and maxing out at 18% around the 4km mark. The middle section of the climb is pretty relentless, with nearly 6km at over 12%. It is a very difficult ascent and it is intriguingly placed within the stage, coming just 30 km from the finish. Once over the Mortirolo, the riders face a long descent of over 15km before they tackle the Aprica for the second time and a summit finish. At 195km this might not be the longest mountain stage in the race and nor is the Mortirolo pass quite so fearsome as Monte Zoncolon or Plan de Corones, but make no mistake, stage 19 is a very tough day in the saddle and it could well be another pivotal one.

Stage 20: Saturday 29th May; Bormio - Passo del Tonale, 178km

© 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

Just two stages to go now and despite a week of almost incessant climbing for the peloton, the Giro organisers have decided to throw just one more mountain stage at them because, as we all know, you can never have enough mountains.

Those sentiments are unlikely to be shared by the riders as they peruse the race book at the start of this stage. Just the five classified climbs, four of them over 2000m, await them today. Just as well the race finishes tomorrow.

The peloton get an easy introduction at the start of today's stage with a gradual 40 km descent from Bormio. If they free-wheel the whole way, I for one won't blame them, for the next 130 km or so is nothing short of torture. First up is a 30 km climb up to the 2315m Forcola di Livigno. The climb is listed as being 18 km in length but the reality is that the road starts rising far earlier before reaching a plateau at just over 1000m. There the road runs flat for 10 km or before the classified climb starts. The Forcola di Livigno starts off nice an easy with a gradient averaging a touch over 3% for the first couple of kilometres or so. Then the road rears up, averaging 8% for the next 9 km. There follows some degree of respite before the climb reveals a nasty sting in the tail, kicking up again in its final moments, maxing out at 13%.

The next two climbs, the 2211m Passo di Eira and the 2291m Passo di Foscagno, come in quick succession. The good news for the riders is that they don't drop too much altitude between them so they are relatively short, the Eira is listed at 6.5 km and the Foscagno at 4 km long. The bad news is that they still boast steep sections of over 9% and 10% respectively. Then, after a 20km+ descent the riders face the highest peak on this year's route – the 2618m Passo di Gavia.

The Gavia is often a dramatic climb. Even this late into May, the height of the pass means that great walls of compacted snow greet the riders as they near the summit. Again it is a tough climb (would we expect anything else on this Giro?). At 25 km it is long and its gradient varies widely meaning it will be difficult for the riders to find any kind of constant rhythm. The climb averages 5.6% but with its maximum pitch of 14% coming relatively late on, after 20 km of climbing, the riders know they have to leave something in reserve. With the prestigious Cima Coppi prize going to the first climber over the pass, there are sure to be attacks being launched all over the mountain meaning whoever is in the Maglia Rosa will have to remain very vigilant.

Amazingly after all that there remains still one climb to go. After descending the Gavia the route takes the riders up to the Passo del Tonale. At 12 km in length, and with a more constant gradient, the climb to the summit finish should be slightly more straightforward than the climb of the Gavia, but coming at the end of a stage like this, indeed coming at the end of a week like this, it might well be one mountain too many for some. Expect to see some big names crawling home as we near the end of a brutal week.

Stage 21: Sunday 30th May; Verona, 15.3km ITT

© 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

The final stage is a 15.3 km Individual Time Trial around the spectacular city of Verona. There has been precious little fodder for the time trial specialists in this year's Giro, with less than 70kms of racing against the clock (and 14km of those were up a particularly difficult mountain). Nevertheless today gives them the opportunity to grab themselves a prestigious win on the final day, although the organisers have not been able to resist sticking in one last climb, with a gradual 5 km grind to Torricelle slap bang in the middle of the route. It's a technical and testing course, with plenty of tight corners, including three 90 degree turns in the final kilometre, and amid the splendour of the beautiful city of Verona, it will bring the race to a fitting finale.

And so after three weeks of racing, after 3,416.5 kilometers of competition, after 4 testing Time Trials, five punishing mountain stages and five tortuous summit finishes, we will have one winner: one Maglia Rosa standing proudly atop the final 2010 Giro podium. And boy, will he have earned it.

Giles Belbin's Week 1 Parcours Preview
Giles Belbin's Week 2 Parcours Preview
Giles Belbin's Week 3 Parcours Preview
93rd Giro d'Italia - Favorites Preview
Giro d'Italia - Big Mountains
2010 Giro d'Italia Team & Rider Start List
2010 Giro d'Italia - At a Glance
93rd Giro d'Italia - Start List

Stage 1  ITT
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4 TTT
Stage 5 Report
Stage 6 Report
Stage 7 Report
After Stage 7 Interviews
Stage 8 Report
Stage 9 Report
Stage 10 Report
Stage 11 Live
Stage 11 Interviews
Stage 12 Live
G.C. After Stage 12
Stage 13 Live
Stage 14 Report
Stage 15 Live
G.C. After Stage 15

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