Giro d’Italia director confident Gavia stage will go ahead as planned
Mauro Vegni coy over potential double ascent of the Mortirolo if stage route needs to be altered
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Despite the recent bad weather and metres of snow, the Giro d'Italia race director is confident the 2019 edition will race over the Gavia Pass next Tuesday.
Images surfaced in the last days of snow-plow trucks working desperately to clear the pass which climbs to 2,618 meters, the highest climb of 2019 and coming just ahead of the Mortirolo on stage 16.
>>> Giro d’Italia 2019 route: stage-by-stage analysis, elevation and maps
"There's a lot of snow up there on Gavia, they are working on it, both the provinces of Sondrio and Brescia to clear it," director Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly.
"They still have work to do, but it's clear, it depends on what happens in the next week – this week and the start of next week. As of today, there are not big worries, if the weather stays like this we should be able to keep it open and keep the Gavia pass in the Giro."
The bad weather over the last month, which saw buckets of rain fall on the first week of the Giro d'Italia, blanketed the Alps in the north with snow. On the road near the top of the pass, north of Milan and near Bormio, sits about two to three metres, said Vegni.
"They are shaving it off and the situation should be stabilised," Vegni said. "So, barring any big issues, we should be able to pass."
In 2013, the organiser had to cancel the Stelvio stage due to snow and shorten another. Given the risk of cancelling a stage, RCS Sport made sure to always have a plan B in the future so that the riders can race 21 stages as planned and the towns get their race, and publicity, as paid for.
"I don't even want to talk about a plan B, let me just say now that in my opinion we are going to be going over the Gavia, but we can find a solution if needed. For sure, it'd be a big loss for the stage and the overall of the Giro. But the outlook in these days is positive," Vegni added.
"We have to think about it, we already have a hypothesis [for a plan B] because you can't face it in the last minute. So we are going to put it into action when there are two days out and we see that the snow is not letting us pass Gavia. At that point, the idea already ready, will be rolled out."
The 16th stage opens up the third and final week of the Italian Grand Tour. It covers 226 kilometres and the Gavia would be the highest pass of the Giro, or what they call the Cima Coppi. The five-star stage descends to Bormio and climbs the famous, and steep Mortirolo afterwards. The climb tops out with 27.7km to race.
A rumour surfaced that RCS Sport could take its race up the Mortirolo twice if it cannot use the Gavia Pass.
"I heard many rumours, but I can say that it is not my idea," Vegni explained.
"You need to look at the numbers to see that doing it twice would make the stage very long and then the bit from the first to the second pass would be too many kilometres. Doing such a hard climb you risk losing everyone for the second time up, then that idea would make the stage too long."
Vegni spoke in Ravenna ahead of the 10th stage, which oddly for this Giro so far, began under sunshine and in 20°C temperature.
"Absolutely yes, we are hoping for good weather," Vegni said. "We are faithful."
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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