Giro d’Italia 2013: Stage 19 preview

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Giro d’Italia 2013: Stage 19
When: Friday, May 24
Ponte di Legno
To: Val Martello/Martelltal
Length: 160km
Category: High mountains

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Adverse weather conditions have affected the 2013 Giro from the gun, and so it was no surprise when organiser RCS Sport announced the removal of the key Stelvio and Gavia climbs from the stage 19 route the night before the stage.

The finishing climb of the Martello – making its Giro debut – has been retained as planned, but heavy snowfall and a severe weather forecast for Friday forced RCS into a re-route around the higher peaks. To accommodate the diversion, the total stage length was upped from 139km to 160km.

After a short downhill burst from the start in Ponte di Legno, the riders hits the opening climb of Passo del Tonale before tackling the first category Passo Castrin mid-way through the day. A GC rider lagging behind, similar to Thomas De Gendt in the Stelvio stage last year, will have to have a go well before the final climb to build up a margin.

The overall leader will have to rely on his team to keep the gap manageable ahead of the 22.3km climb up from Martello or ‘hammer’ valley. Fans will be treated to a true dogfight that will leave little left for the following day.

The Bolzano province opens the door to the Dolomites, but the Martello Valley is secluded and locals speak only German. The common language is food. Speck Alto Adige is a favourite. The pork is salted, smoked and cured in a 22-week process. Bolzano hosts the Festa dello Speck every May.

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