Vincenzo Nibali says today is the Giro d’Italia queen stage after changes to final mountain day  

Could today’s stage be the most important in the GC race? 

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Vincenzo Nibali said today’s stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia is now the queen stage of the race, after the changes to the route on the final mountain day. 

The Giro organiser announced on Wednesday (October 21) that the route for stage 20, the final mountain day, would need to be redrawn because of coronavirus restrictions.

Initially scheduled to cross the French border, the peloton were due to take on Colle dell’Agnello and the Col de l’Izoard, before finishing in the Sestriere. 

But French authorities have banned the race from crossing the border due to the global pandemic, with the riders now taking on three ascents of Sestriere instead. 

Today's Stage 18 is a 207km run from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano, featuring four categorised climbs, including the Stelvio (24.8km at 7.4 per cent) 145km into the stage and finishing on the Torri di Fraele (9km at 6.8 per cent) - which Nibali now says is the most important day for the GC. 

Stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia

Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) said: “It is clear that, with the changes announced on Saturday and the fact that Almeida is still leader, Thursday's stage is now really the queen stage. The importance of that stage is now growing considerably ” 

“The profile says enough, but everything depends on the speed at which we drive up the climbs. Expectations are high. ” 

Stage 20 on Saturday is the final road stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, before the 15km time trial in Milan to close out the race.  

But with the changes to the route, the total climbing falls from 5,500 metres of altitude gain to 4,000m. 

>>> Giro d’Italia standings: The latest results from the 2020 race

Nibali said: “The Colle dell'Agnello was a really tough climb, I've only ridden it once before.

“The fact that we now climb Sestriere three times makes for a completely different run-up. Of course it is a difficult and important climb, but a lot depends on the pace at which we repeatedly travel the circuit with the GC riders ”

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.