An official decision on whether the Giro d’Italia 2019 will tackle the Gavia is set to take place on the morning of Monday’s rest day, with hopes that the peloton will be able to ascend the highest climb of this year’s race dwindling by the day.
Work continues to try and clear the route, with the official Gavia Facebook page posting alarming pictures showing the snow-covered roads on the pass with enormous walls of snow lining the road, reaching heights of 14 metres.
As snow continues to fall amid freezing temperatures, avalanches have forced those working to clear the pass to keep going back and clearing sections of road they had already cleared, according to Italian cycling website Tuttobiciweb, who also report huge ice stalactites and icy roads in the tunnels on the climb.
Giro d’Italia race director, Mauro Vegni, is apparently set to confirm that the race will cut the Gavia from Tuesday’s queen stage, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, as he grows less optimistic that conditions will improve.
Instead, Vegni will reveal a shorter stage that features the Mortirolo as the major climb of the day, with snow forecast to still be falling on the Gavia when they are due to tackle stage 16.
Italian authorities are ultimately unlikely to give the go ahead for the riders to climb the Gavia, with the UCI’s Extreme Weather Protocol also making it unlikely that riders would be forced to tackle the ascent should conditions put riders’ health and wellbeing in jeopardy.
La Flamme Rouge tweeted the “Plan B” for stage 16, with race still starting in Lovere and ending in Ponte di Legno, but it will now climb the Passo della Presolana and Cevo – a new climb for the Giro. It will then face the hard side of the Mortirolo as planned and then an almost 30km run to the finish, which includes a gradual 17km uphill drag to the finish.
Last week, video footage showed crews attempting to clear the heavy snow on the climb, with reports suggesting that a further 23cm of snow was expected to fall before the Giro reached the planned highest point of this year’s race, at 2,618m.
The Giro has not been able to ascend the Gavia as planned on two occasions in the race’s history, in 1961 and 1989, with the peloton also memorably climbing the Gavia in 1988 in heavy snow.
Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) currently leads the overall classification in the Giro d’Italia 2019, 2-25 ahead of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in second.