In the last of Eros Poli’s Giro d’Italia previews for inCycle TV, everyone’s favourite breakaway star tackles the 196km from Saint Vincent to the Alpine village of Sestriere, which hosted many of the events at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.
Stage 20 of the 98th Giro is the final mountain stage of the race, and while Alberto Contador looks too pretty in pink to be troubled by any attacks, it could still provide some fireworks as the rest of the pack jostle for position and try to salvage some pride from this season’s first grand tour.
The day’s biggest difficulty – and perhaps opportunity – will come on the Colle delle Finestre, this year’s Cima Coppi, the highest peak in the Giro d’Italia. It’s the third time that the Giro will ascend the 2,178m pass after it first appeared in 2005, and it’s 9.2% average gradient is in stark contrast to the stage’s flat first 150 km, which runs through the upper Po Valley.
The Colle delle Finestre climb features a steady gradient from start to finish – there is a short stretch at Meana di Susa with a max 14% slope – but what really marks this climb out as special is the fact that the second half of it is unpaved.
After that, it’s a technical descent and another 9.2km climb to Sestriere, which averages at just over 5% but peaks around 9%. The Giro has finished here on six occasions – including 1993, when Miguel Indurain won the time trial. The Spaniard went on to win the overall classification in Milan on his way to his historic Giro-Tour double [To find out more about Indurain’s summer event with inGamba, click here]. Contador will hope that he can repeat his countryman’s formidable feat.
There will still be 185 of the 3,486km total to complete on Sunday’s final stage, but this is the last real opportunity for genuine excitement. And thankfully for the peloton, the weather has improved since inGamba’s own Tour de France stage winner made the ascent.
Our very own Eros Poli has been back in action for inCycle TV, previewing what should be one of the most decisive days at this year’s Giro d’Italia.
With the help of the inGamba mechanical team, Poli headed to the Valle d’Aosta region in Italy’s extreme northwest to reveal the key points on this gruelling stage from Gravellona Toce to Cervinia.
It’s the first time that the Corsa Rosa has come to Gravellona Toce, but the finish in Cervinia will be very familiar to fans of Italian cycling. It first featured in 1960, when a little known Addo Kazianka beat the likes of Charly Gaul and Jacques Anquetil to take the biggest win of his career. Most recently, Movistar’s Andrey Amador won with a gutsy sprint to the line in 2012.
Undoubtedly the climb’s most famous moment happened in 1997, however, when Saeco’s Ivan Gotti used the climb to wrestle the maglia rosa from Pavel Tonkov. The Russian was the favourite that year, having also won in 1996, but he was put to the sword on the ascent to Cervinia by Gotti who overcame a 67 second deficit to give the local Tifosi something to cheer about.
This year, the 19th day of the Giro should again be decisive. It’s 236km in total, with around 4,800 m of climbing, most of which is tackled in the last 100km on three huge, back-to-back climbs. The St. Barthélemy ascent (20 km at a 5.6% gradient) comes first, followed by St. Pantaléon (a harsher climb: 16.5 km at a 7.2% gradient) and as the grand finale, the 19km-long climb to Cervinia, which has an average 5% gradient but ramps up to 12% in places.
Here’s what Eros has to say about it.
Our very own Eros Poli is working hard at the Giro d’Italia right now, but he took time to collaborate with inCycle TV to create a series of previews for the most demanding stages of this year’s Corsa Rosa.
There will be exciting previews of stages 19 and 20 to come, when Eros analyse two difficult days of climbing on some of the most iconic ascents in the Alps, but first up is stage 16 from Pinzolo to Aprica.
A high mountain stage with five KOM climbs, the peloton will cover a total of 174km and 4,500m of vertical. The route starts uphill in Pinzolo and tackles the Campo Carlo Magno climb – which also features on stage 15 – before a fast descent into Dimaro.
From there, the road goes up again to the famous Passo del Tonale. The stage then drops down into Ponte di Legno and Edolo, then takes in the first climb towards Aprica, through the village of Santicolo – where the gradient peaks at 15% in the first stretch. After rolling past Corteno Golgi, the route heads for the first passage on the finish line. The following descent is initially wide and fast, and turns narrower and more technical all the way up to Stazzona.
The road then levels out briefly while running through Tirano – the only flat sector of the stage – then it tackles the Mortirolo climb along the traditional Mazzo di Valtellina slope, with an average 12.2% gradient along the six kilometres of the central sector, and highs of 18%. This is followed by a technical descent to Monno and then to Edolo, where the route will retrace the 14km to Aprica.
Mortirolo is this year’s “Montagna Pantani”, celebrating the great success of 4 June 1994, when the great Marco Pantani clinched a masterful solo win – his second consecutive stage win that year – to announce his talent to the world and secure a place on the Giro’s podium behind Evgeni Berzin and ahead of Miguel Indurain.
No one provides the pro experience better than inGamba. Whether its our fleet of race-ready Pinarello F8s, our team of professional soigneurs and mechanics who are veterans of the World Tour or the special relationships we enjoy with partners like Zipp and Giordana, we offer the kind of equipment and support that wouldn’t look out of place in the peloton at a Grand Tour.
Off the bike, we do things a little differently though. There’s no weight watching allowed, no daily allowances of goodies and definitely no alcohol or dessert embargoes. We fuel for the ride the old fashioned way: by grabbing the tastiest thing we can find.
We like to joke with our guests that regardless of how many kilometres they ride or how many calories they burn while they’re with us in Tuscany, they’ll go home heavier than they came. That’s because at the heart of most inGamba trip, there’s a balance between the bike and the table tends to tilt towards the latter. Ride hard, sure, but save your energy for the sprint to the dinner table.
Our Chianti Training Program is a little different. There will still be a bounty of the finest food and wine that Tuscany has to offer, but the focus is more on fitness and the kind of long rides that build speed, tone legs and make lasting memories.
We normally travel to a selection of Chianti’s best eateries because, put simply, no one know’s the region’s restaurants better than us. Our regular spots are a result of years of intensive research and hard work, suffering through countless bottles of fine wines and plate after plate of delicacies.
But it’s also true that there’s no place like home, and home for us is Borgolecchi, where the kitchen and Morgaro’s culinary skills have legendary status among inGamba regulars and the pro teams that join us whenever they’re in need of a proper feed. There’s just no better place to experience traditional Tuscan cooking.
Staying close to home means that there’ll be more time for recovery and more time to let our team of professional soigneurs work their magic on tired muscles. Once the day’s ride is done, there’s nothing left for an athlete to do but put up their feet, wait for a massage and then chill until it’s time for dinner. That might be homemade pasta, or Morgaro’s famous peposa, it might be a Tuscan bean stew, or an almost impossibly juicy Florentine steak. It might be all of those things together. But whatever it is, we can promise you, it will be delicious.