The Giro d’Italia’s highest mountain stage to Passo Stelvio may be shortened if Italy’s weather fails to cooperate. According to some weather reports, rain and freezing temperatures are expected for the run up to 2,757 metres this Saturday.
“Really?” Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) said after the stage yesterday when asked about the chance of bad weather. “I heard the opposite. I haven’t thought of those scenarios.”
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Dan Lloyd (IG-Sigma Sport) told Cycling Weekly that when he did his test ride of the climb this week with Michael Barry (Sky), the two had to make their way through snow. The road is still closed from Bagni Nuovi, only two kilometres above Bormio and isn’t due to be open until the day of the race. The other and more famous side, from Prato Stelvio will remain closed.
Temperatures for the pass on Saturday are currently forecasted at 4°C, wind chill at -1°C and with a chance of rain. If snow or bad weather did ruin the day, the organiser may be forced to finish the stage at Bormio 2000, where Damiano Cunego won in 2004.
The organiser and sources close to the race say that the stage should run as planned, 219 kilometres from Caldes. In addition to the 22.4-kilometre Stelvio, the 20th leg also climbs Passo del Tonale, Aprica, Teglio and Mortirolo.
Joaquin Rodriguez “wants to climb the Stelvio. He likes the climb and has a chance to make a bigger gap over Ryder,” Katusha Sports Director Valerio Piva told Cycling Weekly. “Of course, he doesn’t want to ride in the snow!”
Two years ago, weather threatened to spoil the Giro’s passage over the nearby Gavia Pass. The organisers came out with three different routes in case of a needed, last-minute change. The Giro passed without problem, making its way on a road flanked by snow three metres high.
In 1975, the Giro d’Italia ended with a stage up the Stelvio in similar conditions (see video clip below).
Giro d’Italia 2012: Latest news
Giro d’Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d’Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage 16: Izagirre claims Basque breakaway victory
Stage 15: Rabottini takes tough win in Giro
Stage 14: Amador wins Giro’s first high mountain stage as Hesjedal reclaims lead
Stage 13: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 12: Bak attacks to win
Stage 11: Ferrari wins Giro stage on ride to redemption
Stage 10: Rodriguez wins thrilling finale to take lead
Stage nine: Ventoso wins in Frosinone as Goss and Cavendish fall
Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win
Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead
Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win
Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d’Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Giro d’Italia 2012: Blogs
Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Conserving energy for the final week
Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Holding on to the lead
Charly Wegelius’ Giro blog: Getting the team time trial right
Giro moto blog: Hurray for rest day
Giro moto blog: Stage 10
Giro d’Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d’Italia 2012: TV guide