The Giro d’Italia serves a long and hard finishing climb as early as day three. The haul up on Mount Etna adds up to 18.2 kilometres and the average gradient sits at 6.8%. Best is saved for last as the 3 kilometres before the line rise at 9.1%. To pep things up the steepest section at 11% appears under the flamme rouge.
Originally, the race was scheduled on the fifth day of action, but since the Hungarian Grande Partenza was canceled due to COVID19 the uphill torture begins at day three. The route to the base of the Etna is far from flat – actually the riders are circling around the volcano in the last 75 kilometres -, but the the real action undoubtedly takes place on the brutal slopes amidst the lava fields.
Are the GG riders ready for a battle this early? Or is the winner coming from the breakaway? An important factor is, obviously, what the ambitions of the man in pink are. Does he want to keep the maglia rosa? If so, the winner is likely to be a GC rider, if not, the breakaway could be successful.
In fact, the last Giro stage on the Etna had a little bit of both. Esteban Chaves and Giulio Ciccone were the remaining breakaway riders in the last 5 kilometres. The Colombian left his Italian companion behind, while his team mate Simon Yates attacked in the GC group. He surged across to Chaves and the two came together in the final kilometre. Stage win for Chaves, pink jersey for Yates.
Earlier stages with uphill finishes on the iconic volcano were won by Jan Polanc (2017), Alberto Contador (2011), Acácio Da Silva (1989) and Franco Bitossi (1967). But, since the pink race uses a road never covered before in 2020, all prior victories on Mount Etna were celebrated on a different slope of the mountain.
Favourites stage 3 Giro d’Italia 2020
*** Rafal Majka, Simon Yates, Ilnur Zakarin
** Geraint Thomas, Wilco Kelderman, Thomas De Gendt
* Domenico Pozzovivo, Brandon McNulty, Patrick Konrad, Ben O’Connor
Another interesting read: route stage 3 Giro d’Italia 2020.