The final week of the Giro d’Italia is the toughest of all, with a daunting series of climbs and a mountain time trial before a departing gift to the sprinters on the final stage.
Daniel Lloyd, who contested two of the hardest Giri in recent memory in 2009 and 2010, casts an expert eye over the challenges awaiting the riders after today’s rest day.
Some of the most iconic – and brutal – climbs of the Giro lie ahead, ensuring that the 96th corsa rosa is far from over.
Stage 19 will see the riders tackle the Passo Gavia, a relentless, 16.5km climb, unfolding at an average gradient of eight per cent.
If that wasn’t sufficient, the following climb is arguably the most iconic of them all – the Passo dello Stelvio. The riders will climb for 21.7km at an average gradient of 7.2 per cent to reach the Stelvio’s 2,758-metre summit.
On any other stage, and in any other race, two of the most ferocious climbs in Europe might be considered enough. Stage 19 of the 2013 Giro, however, will force the riders back over 2,000 metres on the stage-closing, first category summit of Val Martello Martelltal – a peak reached by 22.3km kilometres of riding at an average of 6.2 per cent.
Stage 20 offers more of the same, including the Passo Giau, one Lloyd identifies as unfolding over a nine per cent gradient for 15.6km. The climax of the stage is tougher still: the three summits of the appropriately-named Tre Cime di Laverdo.
Lloyd considers the prospects of the British riders, including those of BMC Racing’s Steve Cummings, a stage winner at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, and riding in the Giro in support of Cadel Evans, currently second overall
We’ll have race reports and full-screen galleries of each stage of the final week, starting tomorrow with stage 16.