2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 17 Preview
What happened on stage 16
It was yet another crazy and action-packed stage at the Corsa Rosa, sticking to the pattern of the previous two weeks. The race exploded when Alberto Contador had a mechanical problem on a descent right before Mortirolo, which made Katusha and Astana push hard at the front in order to distance the pink jersey. This doesn’t stopped the 32-year-old from coming back almost on his own, after an impressive ascent of the Mortirolo (45:07), where he also took advantage of the fact that Mikel Landa had to wait for Fabio Aru more than once, as the Italian had problems. Eventually, the Basque cyclist got a “carte blanche” from Astana after Contador attacked and the two of them, joined by Steven Kruijswijk, surged at the front. On the final ascent of the day, Landa – who’s out of contract at the end of the season – attacked and soloed to take the win, thus climbing to second in the overall classification (4:02 behind Contador) and becoming only the second rider victorious on Madonna di Campiglio and Aprica, after Marco Pantani.
What comes now
This stage (Tirano-Lugano, 134 kilometers) will partly allow the riders to regain their strength. It is most suitable to sprinters, but it is not completely flat. The only categorized climb of the stage is just after the start, with the Teglio ascent (7,4 kilometers, 6,5% average gradient). The Valtellina scenic route runs across Poggiridenti and leads to Sondrio. Here, the stage course enters the Adda River valley, and runs along it until it reaches the mouth of Lake Como. The roadway narrows all along the lakefront road leading to the short Croce di Menaggio climb. The following stretch of road leading to Lake Como has a few tunnels along the route.
The last three kilometers run across the urban area of Lugano. Watch out for a number of obstacles, such as roundabouts, speed bumps and traffic dividers, while crossing urban areas. The finish runs initially downhill (with two close hairpin bends three kilometers before the line), then along the shores of Lake Lugano, on well-paved roads. The route features one last bend, 750 meters from the finish, on 7-m wide asphalt road.
After the damages made by Mortirolo, the weather and the fast pace of stage 16, a breakaway – which can include Marco Bandiera, Silvan Dillier, Simon Geschke, Sonny Colbrelli, Ion Izagirre, Sylvain Chavanel or Luis Leon Sanchez – has a strong chance of going all the way to the line, especially as the peloton can break on the Teglio. If this won’t be the case and the peloton gets to control the escape, then the sprinters will get to fight at the finish for the first time in a week. Sacha Modolo, Elia Viviani and Giacomo Nizzolo are the top three favorites, the last two being interested not only in a win, but also in the red jersey classification.
Lugano returns in the Giro d’Italia for the third time in history. The previous visit here took place in 1998, when the Swiss city acted as finish for a 34-km long individual time trial, scheduled on the penultimate stage of the race. Riding for Cantina Tolo, Serhiy Honchar won on that day and was followed on the podium by Massimo Podenzana and Marco Pantani.