It’s the third and final part of this fictional Giro route, which has seen the riders curve south from Naples and along the coast of Italy to Venice, up Vesuvius, Etna, and the Crostis. Now though, it’s the final week, and its all going to kick off…
The final, pretty nasty week is as thus:
Stage 15: Monte Zonoclan TT 8miles/12.8km – 1421.8m/2245.3km
Stage 16: Cuneo – Sestrierre 118.9/191.4km – 1540.7m/2436.7km
Stage 17: Cesana Torinese – Galibier 94.5miles/152.1km – 1635.2m/2588.8km
Stage 18: Torino-Gran Paradiso 88.7miles/142.7km – 1723.9m/2731.5km
Stage 19: Varese – Mortitolo 106.3miles/171km – 1830.2m/2902.5km
Stage 20: Passo del Stelvio-Madonna Ghisallo 175miles/281km – 2005.2m/3183.5
Stage 21: Bergamo-Milan 63miles/101.4km – 2068.2m/3284.9km
There are some pretty big names in this lot, and one of the only, if not the only stage over 200km comes on the penultimate day, and is designed to turn the race up side down completely. So without any further ado…
Stage 15: Monte Zonoclan TT 8miles/12.8km
The riders have come out of a rest day, so they can have a nice, short, not even ten mile ride to get themselves back into the scheme of things right? Well, no. Whilst this stage is under 10 miles, only 2.5 of those are flat – the rest are up the Zoncolan, and make the riders gain 1200m in just 5 and a half miles, and on slopes over 20%. The time limit will have to be pretty large today – the sprinters have little left to stay besides the final day in Milan, and the next few days will be a living hell for them.
Stage 16: Cuneo – Sestrierre 118.9/191.4km
The race takes a diversion into France for the first of two stages in Italy’s neighbour, with the Classic Cuneo-Pinerollo route cut slightly short so that the race finishes on the not so bad summit of Sestiere. Will the riders even race up with tomorrow’s Galibier finish? Probably, but it’s certainly not as hard as the other climbs on the route.
Stage 17: Cesana Torinese – Galibier 94.5miles/152.1km
This stage is simply a replica of the already annouced Galibier stage, which will be very interesting, climbing the mountain from the same side that the Alpe d’Huez stage of the 2011 Tour did, rather then finishing on top of the mountain having come from the opposite side as the next day’s stage, won by Andy Schleck, was. It will probably all happen on the Galibier, as the Telegraphe is quite easy (and I have ridden that one!), and the fact it gets increasingly steeper should see an interesting war of attrition.
Stage 18: Torino-Gran Paradiso 88.7miles/142.7km
Yes, I’m getting quite boring with all these summit finishes, so to mix it up a bit, this one has a bit of downhill after it to make it interesting, although given the stage goes to 9000ft and will almost certainly be freezing given the proximity to the great snow banks of Gran Paradiso, it will still be merciless. The riders will at least get to see Torino, or Turin as we know it better, the ‘Capital of the Alps’, with all its rich culture and architecture.
Stage 19: Varese – Mortitolo 106.3miles/171km
In reality, this stage would be pretty much impossible due to how narrow the Mortitolo is, but this is fantasy, so we’re going up it. In a nod to some of the Giro sadism of the past, the first 100 miles are pan flat, with only the last 6.3 up hill, albeit at 10-11%. Interestingly, this could mean that the break away of non-climbers could win the stage…but will the lure of being able to win atop the Mortitolo prove to much of a lure to the GC riders?
Stage 20: Passo del Stelvio-Madonna Ghisallo 175miles/281km
This stage is basically born out of an idea to return cycle racing to a test of endurance and stamina, and to create something as epic as the 40’s races that where so grand in scale. As a result, you’ll notice that many of the stages have been rather short, coming in under 100 miles, with only two so far over 200km. Unfortunately for the riders, it means they get this behemoth on the penultimate day, which is exceptionally cruel. The first couple of climbs could be a stage in themselves, as the race climbs the Stelvio pass in the first 15 miles, then goes over the Gavia as well. And then the riders still have another 130 miles to go, and the varying terrain means that anyone a long way down willing to risk it all may have a chance to stay away. And what more beautiful way to end could there be then ascending the the Madonna Ghisallo, the church of the Patron Saint of Cyclists, after skirting around Lake Como? Even if the GC riders arrive together, it will still be carnage.
Stage 21: Bergamo-Milan 63miles/101.4km
The shortest road stage of the race is just a procession into Milan, the spiritual home of Italian cycling, having set off from Bergamo, the picturesque hill town. The riders should have a chance to recall the epic moments of the race and savour the beauty of Milan as they corss the line after aloop around some of the cities great sights, before finishing outside the Dumo.