Giro d'Italia - Stage 16

Fearsome Stelvio returns early in the stage before steep Santa Cristina mountain-top finish

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Giro d'Italia - Stage 16
Giro d'Italia - Stage 16
  • Dates 21 May
  • Race Length 118 kms
  • Start Laas/Lasa
  • Finish Santa Cristina Valgardena / St. Christina in Gröden (Monte Pana)
  • Race Category Elite Men

Published: 18 May 2024

Stage 16: Livigno – Santa Cristina Valgardena (206km)

If any of the riders were feeling relaxed after their second and final rest day, that won’t last long. The final week of the corsa rosa starts with a bang: the ascent of the fearsome Stelvio. Sadly for the climbers who are best at the highest altitudes, stage 16 has had a last-minute adjustment by race organisers RCS due to the heightened risk of avalanches on the mountain pass, meaning the Stelvio won’t actually be climbed in full.

Instead, the riders will tackle most of the mountain before descending via the Umbrailpass into Switzerland. It’s a long stage at 206km from Livigno to Santa Cristina Valgardena, with 16.7km of the Stelvio Pass intriguingly positioned as the first climb of the day. That tops out at 2,489m, the race’s Cima Coppi or highest point, down from the originally-planned 2,758m at the mountain’s peak.

Two short uncategorised climbs and a descent out of Livigno are all the preparation the riders get for that climb, which averages 7.1% but reaches 15% at its maximum. After that, it’s 120km of descending and riding on the flat until the next climb, making this stage a real tactical puzzle. While it’s possible that teams could send satellite riders into the breakaway to support their climbers later on in the race, they’ll have to weather a couple of hours of breakaway riding, while remaining far enough ahead of the peloton, to be at all useful on the final climbs.

With just over 40km left to ride the road pitches back up again, as the peloton will tackle two stern categorised climbs that will decide the order of the day and possibly blow apart the general classification race. First is the long but inconsistent Passo Pinei (23.4km, 4.7%) starting with 36km to go, which again reaches a max of 15%. Then there’s a short 5km descent before the climb to the finish at the Santa Cristina Valgardena (7.6km, 6.1%).

The last 3km are almost entirely uphill, averaging 12% but with pitches as steep as 16% in the opening section, which throws in some narrow hairpins for added difficulty. All three of the day’s climbs reach double-digit gradients, so it’s a long and brutal day in the saddle – even if it has been downgraded from a five-star to four-star difficulty by the official Giro d’Italia site – and is likely to have a huge impact on the GC.

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Provided by FirstCycling

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