Snow and the risk of an icy descent has forced the Giro d’Italia organisers to cut the Gavia Pass from the 2019 edition, three days before the planned ascent on Tuesday’s stage 16.
Race Director Mauro Vegni made the announcement today “with regret” but with the riders and teams in mind.
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Speaking at a press conference held after Richard Carapaz (Movistar) won stage 14, Vegni said: “Given the conditions, we decided to take a decision early so we are certain about what stage is happening.
“We were worried about the descent of the Gavia, the real problem is the icy sections on the descent, if the snow melts and the temperatures drop again. It becomes risky.”
The famous Gavia pass has seen many battles in the past, including Andy Hampsten’s snowy ride to become the eventual Giro d’Italia winner in 1988. This year, it was due to be the Cima Coppi, the highest pass of the race, at 2,618 metres. However, recent bad weather and uncertainty were too much for race organiser RCS Sport.
On Tuesday, 4°C and rain is expected with fresh snow expected every day leading up the queen stage. RCS Sport had already been working with the provinces of Sondrio and Brescia to clear the pass, which they had done with some success, but the risks remained too severe at such altitude.
The race will start in Lovere and end 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.
“We made the decision today so the riders and teams have time to know about it,” added Vegni. “[They] will do Aprica, from the hard side, the Mortirolo and the finish is at Ponte di Legno.
“It will be around 194km, 4,800 metres of climbing. We wanted it to be similar to the other route, but clearly without the Gavia, it’s not the same.”
Richard Carapaz currently holds the race lead by seven seconds to second-place Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).