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. The ascent amounts 12.6 kilometres with an average gradient of 7.6%. The last 2.6 kilometres before the top are averaging 9.6% and are marked by a steepest stretch of 16%.
The riders plummet 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 iconic pass is the highest peak in the 2017 Giro d’Italia. The first rider earns the Cima Coppi, which was won by the late Michele Scarponi in last year’s Giro.
The Stelvio is a 21.7 kilometres climb at 7.1%. 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 landscape is desolate and winds 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 13.4 kilometres climb at 8.4% 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.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the last intermediate sprint (at kilometre 175.2) comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Giro 2017 stage 16: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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