A Gallo-Roman cemetery and a Romanesque church from the 10th century. The riders could not care less what tourist attractions are to be found in Grave Toce. The village at the foothills of the Alps – less than 8,000 inhabitants – is yet another starting point of yet another trial in the 2015 Giro.
Luckily for the riders who don’t have a soft spot for tough climbing they have ample time to mentally prepare for the mountains. Aside from La Serra, a climb at 85 kilometres, the first 150 kilometres are fairly flat. Riding on the edge of the Po Valley the pack heads for the valley of the Dora Baltea River. For a while they follow the course of the river, but near the village of Lillaz they go right into the mountains.
The flanks of the Saint-Barthélémy are not extremely steep basin – averaging 5.6% -, but with 20.1 kilometres the climb is very long. The toughest section is 17 kilometres up the climb when the road is going up at 10% for over 1 kilometre.
After the descent, the riders are back where they came from – the valley of the Dora Baltea River. But not for long. In Chambave it’s climbing time again and passing the villages of Saint-Denis and Semon they move up the Saint Pantaleon. With an average grade of 7.2% the ascent is slightly steeper than the previous one, but with 16.5 kilometres the mountain is slightly shorter. Above that very steep sections are absent and there even is a section of almost 1 kilometre with hardly any climbing.
Next comes the valley of River Marmore, but the riders don’t linger since the road runs straight back up again. They aim for the ski resort of Cervinia. The average grade is 5%, so apparently easy, but as with the Saint-Barthélemy it is the distance making the ascent hard – over 19 kilometres of fighting against gravity.
Cervinia lies on the southern slopes of the Matterhorn (4,478 metres). Because of the altitude – the village itself is at 2,000 metres – skiing throughout the year is an option. With the 2015 Giro Cervinia will see the fifth Giro stage finish ever. The last victor was Andrey Amador, besting Jan Barta and Alessandro de Marchi in 2012’s stage 14. By finishing fourth subsequent Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal took the pink jersey in Cervinia.
Click here for race results and race report.
Giro 2015 stage 19: Route, profiles and more
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