Live: Coverage of today’s stage starts at 12.30pm (BST)
What’s on today’s menu?
Featuring three category one climbs and the Cima Coppi, the name given to the highest point in the race in honour of the great Italian champion Fausto Coppi, it is safe to say that today’s jaunt through the Dolomites is one of the toughest at this year’s Giro d’Italia.
After setting off from Sacile at the ungodly hour of 10am, the riders will barely have warmed up before reaching the start of the day’s first climb, La Crosetta (see below profile) which is just 11.6km in length at an average gradient of 7.0%, but is little more than an amuse-bouche for what is to follow. In fact, La Crosetta is the only categorised climb of the does not go above 2,000 metres in altitude – it tops out at 1,116m for those that care about these things.
Once beyond the first intermediate sprint of the day in Agordo, at around the 91km mark where there will be points on offer in the race for the maglia ciclamino, the second ‘sprint’ of the day follows 20km later on the lower slopes of the Passo Fedaia. It is here in Rocca Pietore (below) where riders can gain time bonuses in the general classification, with the first three riders claiming 3sec, 2sec and 1sec.
Then the attention switches to the ascent of the Passo Fedaia (below). The long drag up to the real start of the climb will have a draining effect on the riders, certainly for those who are dreading the 5,700 metres of vertical gain they will rack up during the stage. After 14km of climbing on a slope with an average gradient of 7.5%, but one that pitches up to 18%, riders finally summit at 2,050m which will be the highest point of the race so far. But it gets worse, or better, depending on the riders’ form and fortitude – rain is forecast.
After dropping into Canazei, the route rises at a steady 6% gradient for 12km along Passo Pordoi which, as mentioned, at 2,231m is the highest point in this year’s Giro. Though some distance from being as high as climbs like the Stelvio (2,758m), the conditions in which today’s stage is raced may be key. When the clouds close in and the rain falls heavily, the most beautiful mountain range in the whole of Europe, possibly even the world, can become hellish to ride in.
Having descended off the Pordoi at great speed, the road heads to Selva di Cadore which in turn leads to the foot of Passo Giau (below), the fourth and final climb of the day and it is a brute. Though just 9.8km long, the Giau which has an an average gradient of 9.3% is one of those nasty climbs that just holds its numbers true. There’s not a stretch of road that goes below 8%, and much of it bounces around the 9-10% mark. Once the riders have hauled themselves over the top, there’s a very fast descent towards the old ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo where rich and famous Italians like to holiday.
Losing just 1,000 metres in elevation on the descent to Cortina d’Ampezzo which is located 1,224m above sea level, the fast and frenetic finale is likely to be very cold, especially if raining.
In summary it is going to be a brute of a day that is, unsurprisingly, suited to the natural climbers. Given the trend for breakaway riders to win stages at this year’s Giro in which eight of the 15 stages have been won from the break – Taco van der Hoorn (stage three), Joe Dombrowski (stage four), Gino Mäder (stage six), Victor Lafay (stage eight), Mauro Schmid (stage 11), Andrea Vendrame (stage 12) and Lorenzo Fortunato (stage 14), Victor Campenaerts (stage 15) – I don’t think anybody would be too surprised if another rider not involved in the battle for pink were to prevail. That said, there will be movement in the general classification, but the big question is: can anybody unsettle Egan Bernal and wrestle that maglia rosa off him?
Catch up: Highlights from yesterday’s stage
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 16 at the Giro d’Italia, the 212-kilometre run from Sacile to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Yesterday’s stage may have been a been a little frustrating for those wanting to spend their Sunday afternoon watching a huge battle in the mountains, but anybody who has been paying attention over the last few years will have been delighted to see Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos), finally, win the first grand tour stage of his career. Admittedly, the general classification was a bit of a damp squib, but in theory that will mean today’s jaunt into the Dolomites should provide the fireworks. Before we have a look at today’s stage, though, let’s remind ourselves about the standings in the top classifications.
Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) crashed out following a pile-up at the beginning of yesterday’s stage meaning a whole raft of riders moved up the general classification by a single place, but there were no changes in the top five – the German had started the day in sixth spot. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) will wear the maglia rosa, or the pink jersey awarded to the race leader, for the seventh day.
Davide Cimolai and Fernando Gaviria both moved up a place the standings of the points classification after Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) abandoned shortly after the Monte Zoncolan stage, but Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) keeps hold of the maglia ciclamino, the cyclamen jersey, as leader in that competition.
With just three category four climbs on Sunday there was very little movement in the mountains competition and so Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën) will wear the maglia azzurra, the blue jersey, in one of the toughest stages in this year’s Giro as it enters the Dolomites.
Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) will again wear the maglia bianca, or the white jersey, on behalf of the maglia rosa Bernal.