The riders will enjoy the second rest day near Bergamo before climbing high into the Eastern Alps. The flag is dropped in Lovere and the first half of the race is just a prolonged warm-up. The riders stretch their legs on the Passo della Presolana and Croce de Salven, while looking forward to – or dreading – the moment that they tackle Passo Gavia.
Just before the Gavia the Giro moves through arrival place Ponte di Legno for the first time and then the ascent to the Cima Coppi prize for the highest climb of the race begins. With its peak at 2,618 metres, the Gavia can be severely cold. In fact, in the 1988 Giro d’Italia Andy Hampsten and Erik Breukink rode into cycling legend when a blizzard engulfed the mountain pass. In white out conditions the riders crested the Gavia and following a freezing descent – with visibility of at most 20 metres on the twisting road – Breukink took the stage win and Hampsten the maglia rosa.
Let’s hope for better conditions in the 2019 edition. The Passo Gavia is 16.5 kilometres long and fairly regular, like most Alpine giants. The opening kilometres rise at 5% and when the hairpins appear the road gets steeper. The average gradient is 8% and the steepest sector 16% (at kilometre 6.5).
A 55 55 kilometres descent leads to the foot of the Passo di Mortirolo. Located at 1,854 meters, the pass was a dust road until 1990, but when it was paved at last the pass became stuff for legends in an instant. The route takes in the ascent from Mazzo, which is the toughest side: 12.8 kilometres and an average gradient of 10.1%. Four kilometres up the climb and the riders tackle ramps up to 18%. It is part of the section between kilometre 3.5 to kilometre 9.7, which is averaging a brutal 12%. The Mortirolo is ruthless without one moment of rest for the screaming legs.
The riders plummet down a technical descent and follow the valley of the Oglio upstream. This is a false flat of 16 kilometres to the line. Familiar terrain as well, since the route covered this section before the first passage in Ponte di Legno.
Giro d’Italia 2019 stage 16: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Details Passo Gavia
Details Passo Gavia in 3D
Details Passo del Mortirolo
Details Passo del Mortirolo in 3D