Giro 2014: Mountains in stage 16: Gavia, Stelvio and Val Martello

Giro 2014: the StelvioThe 16th stage of the 2014 Giro is one of the toughest. The Gavia and Stelvio feature in quick succession and then the hors category Val Martello to top things off. The Stelvio marks the highest point of this year's race. (Slideshow route/profile)

Stage 16 is 139 kilometres long with 60 kilometres going uphill and only 15 flat ones!

Passo del Gavia

The first climb of the day is the Passo del Gavia, a legendary Giro mountain where it can be severely cold. The 16.5 kilometre climb is fairly regular, like most Alpine giants. The opening kilometres rise with an average gradient of 5%. Then come the hairpins and gradually the road gets steeper. After 6.5 kilometres of climbing the steepest section of 16% is reached.

The final 10 kilometres on the Gavia are 8%. The section prior to the tunnel (6.5 kilometres from the top) is somewhat less steep than the stretch after the tunnel.

Passo dello Stelvio

Following a 26 kilometers descent riders arrive at the bottom of the Stelvio. The full climb is 5 kilometres longer and 233 metres higher than the Gavia. Located at an altitude of 2,758 metres, the Stelvio is the highest mountain in this Giro and also the highest mountain in Giro history. Beginning at 1,500 metres, air is thin, and once at 2,700 metres the air contains 80% less oxygen than at sea level.

This climb is also rather regular. The second part is somewhat easier than the first. Upon leaving the village of Bormio the road immediately goes up at 7.5% for 5 kilometres. The riders then have exactly 1 kilometre to regain their breath on a relatively flat section, the calm before the storm. The next 5 kilometres on the Stelvio are the toughest at 8% with a stretch at 12%.

It’s still 11 kilometres to the top, with the last 5 also at 8%. And we’re still not at the finish line…..

Val Martello

The closing climb of Val Martello is 22.3 kilometres long – meaning longer than the Stelvio, but it’s less steep and not as high.It’s very irregular though and tough to find a steady rhythm. The first 6.6 kilometres are at 7.5%, followed by a small descent and next 9 kilometres are at around 7%. After a short ‘break in the ascent’ the steepest part lies waiting at 14%.

The worst is over – a little under 5 kilometres to go now with the last 2 steep kilometres the final pedal strokes of what will be a very tough day in the saddle.

Giro 2014 Stage 16: Images and more

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