The Jafferau is an explosive final chapter at the end of a demanding route. The 7.2 kilometres climb is averaging 9%, which is a biased statistic as the first 500 metres go up at merely 4.6%. But then the double digit gradients kick in. Following a middle section at around 8% the last 3 kilometres rise with an average gradient of almost 10%, while the final 500 metres are a whooping 11.6%.
So that’s a dream for a niche in the peloton, called climbers, and a nightmare for the rest of the riders. Especially since the route basically starts to climb when the flag is dropped in Venaria Reale, a place just north of Turin. The Colle del Lys is a sheer endless rolling slope with its crest after almost 50 kilometres. Some 13 kilometres before the top the toughest section is 7.1% for 5 kilometres. Yet, compared to what the stage has in store it is really nothing.
Following the descent a false flat runs to the base of this Giro’s giant: Colle delle Finestre. It is a steady ascent – steady in the sense that the gradients are hovering between 9 and 10% from bottom to summit. The 18.9 kilometres toil is features 45 hairpins and the second half runs on unpaved roads. The rider who is first over the top wins Cima Coppi, as this year’s Giro won’t get any higher than the 2,178 metres peak of the Finestre. Still 73.3 kilometres to go at the top.
The technical descent on narrow roads leads to Pragelato, where the climb to high altitude ski station Sestriere begins. Which is yet another long ascent, but to be frank, this time it’s only the distance that installs fear. Amounting to 16.2 kilometres, the first 7 kilometres are basically a prolonged false flat, while the rest of the climb is averaging some 5%.
The finale of the penultimate stage of the 2015 Giro d’Italia’s final mountain stage was played out on these very roads. The last 50 kilometres took in the Colle delle Finestre and the climb to Sestriere. Maglia rosa Alberto Contador lost more than 2 minutes after being dropped on the gravel roads of the Finestre, yet his overall victory was not jeopardized. Fabio Aru took the stage honours and finished second on GC, still 2 minutes down on the now retired Spaniard.
In 2015, the stage ended in Sestriere, but now it’s just a passage with almost 50 kilometres remaining. A long descent drops down to Oulx and a 13 kilometres section leads through the valley to Bardonecchia. This is the base of the steep Jafferau, where Eddy Merckx climbed to victory in the 1972 Giro, thus cementing his overall lead which ultimately led him to winning the pink jersey that year.
The last time the Giro d’Italia included the Monte Jafferau was in 2013. With snow falling and temperatures close to zero at the 1,908 metres high finish, the weather was a disaster that day. Mauro Santambrogio climbed to victory in the same time as maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali.
The first three riders on the line win time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the last of two intermediate sprints (at kilometre 74.3 and at kilometre 127.5) comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Giro d’Italia 2018 stage 19: Route maps, height profiles, and more
Click on the images to zoom.
Details Colle del Lys climb
Details Colle delle Finestre
Details Colle di Sestriere
Details Jafferau climb
Details route in Bardonecchia
Colle delle Finestre in 3D
Details Jafferau climb in 3D