The opening 70 kilometres are pretty straightforward today, fairly flat and ideally suited for escapees to take their chances and build a big lead. They will need it, as 3 giants await them: Passo del Purra, Sella Razzo and Monte Zoncolan.
Passo del Purra
Passo del Purra is crested after almost 104 kilometres. It’s a long climb but the first 25 kilometres are mainly a false flat, it gets nasty with 11 kilometres to go. In the remainder the riders rise 869 metres, meaning an average gradient of 7.7%. Just before the top this goes up to 13%.
The descent is only 6.5 kilometres long, so there’s not much time to recuperate.
The road to the top of Sella Razzo is almost 5 kilometres longer than the first (real) ascent. The gain in altitude is approximately the same, so one might wonder,is it less steep a mountain? That’s correct as far as the first 11 kilometres are concerned. Peace of cake, actually, this section even contains ‘a false flat’ downward. But then it’s time for some serious climbing, since the following 3 kilometres average 9% and to top it off there is a section of 15%. The closing 800 meters before cresting are fairly easy, that might be a relief to some.
The real relief is not quite achieved yet for the riders and a likely nervous maglia rosa. Next is Monte Zoncolan, just like Mont Ventoux and Alto del Angliru in france and Spain, the mountain has become a myth – and in that sense a worthy closing climb in the 2014 Giro. The ascent is ‘only’ 10.5 kilometres long but the average gradient is 11.5%. As a comparison, try riding La Redoute from Liège-Bastogne-Liège 8 times! As if that’s not tough enough, after 3.5 kilometres, a section of 22% awaits the riders. Still 7 kilometres to go to decide this Giro….
Giro 2014 stage 20: Images and more
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How stage 20 was won in 2014
Monte Zoncolan Promo
How stage 20 was won in 2013
Friuli Venezia-Giulia Promo