Friday, May 24, 2013

STAGE 20 Preview: New Profile and Picks; 2013 Giro d'Italia

Friday morning came with a double-shot of bad news for the Giro d’Italia. First, what was once planned to be among the most challenging stages of the race, stage 19 was canceled due to snow and unsafe road conditions over the entire route.  Organizers had released a modified route plan last night, but the awful weather superceded that modification.

Saturday's “20th” stage has been vastly altered as well. Race officials have canceled the first three planned climbs, but are still planning on finishing on the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo, at over 2300 meters in elevation. The revised route is 210 kilometers long, with the final 25 kms being the only section salvaged from the original profile. There will be no queen stage at this year's Giro d'Italia.

 Here is the revised stage 20 profile:

Saturday's revised sage 20 profile--for now.
Before the climb to the finish the riders will tackle the category-2 Tre Croci climb. It averages around 7% all the way up its eight-kilometer length.

They will have a few kilometers to recover for the final ascent. It starts steep, ends steep, and has a lot of steep all over it. The first km is over 10%, the final 3k average over 12%, and it has sections that come close to 20%. This mountain is for the pure climbers.

The final 3k are very steep

The cancellation of stage 19 and the modification of stage 20 have all but exhausted the possibility of anyone recovering time against the overall race leader, Astana's Vincenzo Nibali. The Tre Cime will be their last chance.

Only a disastrous day for Nibali could threaten his lead. The Sicilian's closest foe, Cadel Evans, trails by over four minutes. Although hot on Evans' heels--only ten seconds further back--is Team Sky's Rigoberto Uran.

If the Giro win is out of reach, several other competitions within the race are still being hotly contested. Pretty much all of the top ten places could shift around somewhat. Carlos Betancur and Rafal Majka have been wrestling over the white Young Rider’s Jersey, with Betancur currently trailing Majka by a mere two seconds. The Points Jersey, Intermediate Sprint competition and the Combativity competition are all still close races, too.

The loss of all these high mountains means that Stefano Pirazzi has locked up the King of the Mountains competition.  A few climbers still have a shot at the Points Jersey, but if you consider that sprinter-supreme, Mark Cavendish will probably not do too poorly on the final sprint into Brescia, their chances don't look too promising. After losing the jersey to Joaquin Rodriguez by a mere one point last year, it would seem Cavendish will not be denied that jersey this time around.

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