Two mountain stages are flanking the rest day of May 25th. The next day brings four Dolomite Peaks with the Aprica taken, once before and once after the dreaded Mortirolo.
Throughout the route the climbing is evenly distributed. After the flag has been dropped the road immediately goes up and after 15.2 kilometres the riders reach the top of Campo Carlo Magno, at 1,702 altimetres. Without a doubt the pack will be a lot faster than Charlemagne. In the year 800 he crested the pass on his way to Rome to be crowned Emperor of the West – hence the name. Just like the riders will, ‘Carlomagno’ and his entourage discovered the last kilometre to be steepest at a 11.2% grade.
At the Passo del Tonale the maximum grade of 10% is reached after 9 kilometres of climbing. The ascent on a whole is 15.2 kilometres at 6%. In WWI the pass was the border between Austria-Hungary and Italy, with brutal fighting as a result. In memory, there is a monument at the summit.
After a 30 kilometres descent the riders are up for the second part of the stage, containing twice a climb to Aprica, at 1,173 meters, and one time up the Mortirolo (1,854 meters).
The climb to Aprica is certainly no insurmountable obstacle. In 15 kilometres the road rises by 3.4%, although that percentage is biased because of a calm wavy section after 4 kilometres. The steepest kilometre at 11.1% is after the first kilometre, even containing a short 15% section. But a a whole it’s certainly no kiler, since the last 7 kilometres are marked by a modest 3.3% grade.
The Passo del Mortirolo is another story. Located at 1,854 meters the pass was unpaved until 1990, but when the road was paved at last it became stuff for legends in an instant. According to Lance Armstrong the climb is one of the most difficult in Italy.
In 12.8 kilometres the riders gain 1,300 vertical meters, meaning an average grade 10.1%, but that’s not the whole story. Four kilometres up the climb riders face an alarming 18%, making it even more difficult is the fact that this is in the tough middle section between kilometre 3.5 to kilometre 9.7 – a section with an average grade of 12%. The Mortirolo is ruthless without one moment of rest for the exhausted muscles.
After the descent, the climb to Aprica is in the road book again. This time the race ends atop.
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