Stage 20 – Saint-Vincent to Sestriere
This year’s Cima Coppi climb, crested solo by Dario Cataldo (Team Sky), was overshadowed by the controversy of treacherous weather conditions and the confusion surrounding whether the descent of the Stelvio, where Nairo Quintana attacked, had been neutralised.
Quintana’s phenomenal win on the stage, earned more on the final climb, and overall triumph, made it a mere sideshow but organisers will certainly hope for a more straightforward outing this time out.
The climb in question – the highest peak on this year’s route – is the Alpine ascent of the Colle delle Finestre, which is crested at a mind-boggling 2,718m up.
Arriving after a largely flat first 150km, the climb is fiercely steep and made the all the more difficult by the fact the latter half of it is not tarmacked.
Prior to the white gravel finale, the climb, which includes the twisting hairpins from Meanna di Susa, already boasts an average gradient of more than nine per cent, including the 14 per cent slope which marks the start of the climb.
The stage then goes on to finish in Sestriere, via a 9.2 kilometre ascent which marks the final – and potentially pivotal – climb of next year’s race.