Thursday, May 23, 2013

STAGE 19 Preview: 2013 Giro d'Italia

Distance: 160 km from Ponti di Legno to Val Martello
Date: Friday, May 24

The old route, but the general area of stage 19

RCS have posted the new route and profile for the revised stage 19 in the Dolomites. Snow forced the removal of the high mountain Gavia and Stelvio passes. They were to be the two highest climbs of the race (after the previously 2nd-highest Galibier climb was shortened for stage 15). Instead, the peloton will climb over two lower passes on the way to the same planned finish climb of the 2059-meter high Val Martello.

The revised stage 19 profile

As much as I was looking forward to it, I will not offer the majestic specs of the canceled Gavia and Stelvio passes, because it will just emphasize the huge difference in the revised course, and sadden me that we won’t get to see the two most impressive stages that really would have defined this tour. Course changes are not an unusual occurrence for the early-season Giro, as the snow obviously continues to threaten the Alps until summer. So, forget about that image of Andy Hampsten plowing through the snow over the Gavia, on his way to the 1988 Giro d’Italia win.

New stage 19 route map

The revised parcours is actually twenty kilometers longer, but involves significantly less climbing. It will still start with a 5-kilometer descent from Ponte di Legno as previously planned, but will head east instead of north. The new route will then take the riders over the 1883-meter (6178 feet) high, category-2 Passo del Tonale, a much less difficult climb than the Gavia.  The official Tonale climb is 8.3 km, has a vertical drop of 626 meters (2053 feet), averages 7.5% gradient, and maxes out at 10%. The Tonale summit comes at km 15.7 as you can see in the profile.

After a long northeasterly descent and a turn north over some rolling terrain, avoiding the Stelvio altogether, the riders will climb over the category one Passo Castrin. It measures 8.4 k—about the same as the Tonale—but averages a steeper 9.5%. It has sections over 10% including a max of 13%, tops out at 1706 meters, and has a more technical descent than its precursor.  Both of these new climbs are light snacks compared to the hearty meals of the canceled peaks.

After the 25-km northward descent from the Hofmahdjoch (the Castrin), the course turns to the southwest. About 60 kilometers from the summit of the Castrin the peloton will start the final climb to the Val Martello summit finish—weather permitting.

The final climb of stage 19
The category-one finish climb is 22.35 kilometers long, averages about 6.4% (this includes about 3 or 4 combined kms of relative flat at the beginning and near the end of the climb), and rises up to 2059 meters (6755 feet). The climb hits stretches over 10% sporadically and maxes out at 14% in spots around 5k and 1k from the summit. The final 1.5k averages about 10%.

The rider’s will have much fresher legs for the finish than they would have had on the “old” course, so expect a large group to make it to the foot of the Martelltal. A breakaway group could surely survive until the final climb, but count on the GC contenders to catch them before the finish, while attacking Nibali wherever possible in the last few kilometers.

Final 3k of the mountaintop finish

With only two stages remaining for the challengers to gain time this stage should still be full of fireworks.
Will the Colombians form an alliance (as Fabio Parra exhorted them to) and attack Nibali as a united front?
How big a factor will the weather be despite the changes to the profile?
With a comfortable 4-minute lead over his nearest rival, will anyone be able to find Vincenzo Nibali’s Acchiles heel? Does he have one?

No comments:

Post a Comment