The beginning of the route is misleading as the first kilometres are downhill before slowly but surely the stage start to show its real face. Not only the riders are climbing, the gradients do too until in Edolo, at 690 metres, the Mortirolo kicks in. A famous mountain, yet this is only the second time the ‘Queen climb of Europe’ (Lucho Herrera) is tackled from this side. At 17.4 kilometres at 6.7%, the climb may be less steep than the more famous route, the sheer length is grueling.
The first sections pass through the Oglio valley, but when hitting the cross-road to Monno the ramps get steeper. For kilometres the riders face slopes at 8% before the climb flattens out a little after 12.5 kilometres of uphill torture. It’s the calm before the storm as steepest sectors at over 10% kick in after 14.5 kilometres.
A steep descent takes the riders down into the valley of the Adda. They travel upstream so the road goes slighly uphill. Following a first passage in Bormio the climb up the Stelvio begins. At an elevation of 2,758 metres the infamous pass is the highest peak in the 2017 Giro d’Italia. The first rider earns the Cima Coppi.
The Stelvio is a 22.4 kilometres climb at 6.9%. Following a calm opening the riders leave the forest to enter a majestic mountain landscape where rocks set the scene. Hairpins join in the mix on steep roads with maximum grades up to 12%. The last 2 kilometres are well above 10%. The landscape is desolate and wind and cold could slaughter any rider.
The first rider at the top follows in the footsteps of, among many others, Fausto Coppi (1953), Charly Gaul (1961) and Dario Cataldo (2014). In a hairpins packed drop the riders lose 1,841 vertical metres and at the bottom they cross the border to Switzerland. On ‘strange’ slopes the 100th Giro climbs back into Italy on the Umbrail Pass.
The Umbrail Pass is a first for the Giro d’Italia. No wonder, the road has been fully paved as recently as 2015. It’s a 13.2 kilometres climb at 8.5% in a scenery that’s similar to the Stelvio’s: rugged mountains. Which should come as no suprise as the Umbrail Pass is side road of the Stelvio. After cresting the highest point and passing the Swizz-Italian border the road continues on the road that they previously travelled from Bormio up. Only this time they race in opposite direction, so downhill in the direction of the finish line in Bormio.
Giro 2017 stage 16: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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