2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 19 Preview
What happened on stage 18
Philippe Gilbert became the first Belgian rider since Roger De Vlaeminck, in 1979, to take multiple stage wins in one edition of the Giro d’Italia, after attacking from the breakaway and soloing to the win in Verbania. On the Monte Ologno – the only climb of the day – Alberto Contador went clear after getting notice that Mikel Landa was involved in a crash and was two minutes behind. The Basque rider took back more than one minute, but once he returned to the Fabio Aru group he stopped, as another attack meant that his teammate would have risked losing the third place to Movistar’s Andrey Amador. As a result, Contador increased the gap in the general classification, more than five minutes being at the moment behind him and his Astana rival.
What comes now
This queen-stage (Gravelona Toce-Cervinia, 236 kilometers) throughout the Alps features a total difference in altitude of approximately 4800 meters, that is covered almost entirely over the last 100 kilometers, with three subsequent climbs, measuring up to almost 20 kilometers each. The route winds its long journey around the Alpine foothills through the districts of Borgomanero and Biella, and then it enters the Aosta Valley, where the last 150 kilometers of the day will roll out. The stage course tackles the St. Barthélemy ascent (16,5 kilometers at a 6,7% gradient), St. Pantaléon (16,5 kilometers at a 7,2% gradient) and, eventually, it ramps up the Cervinia climb (19,2 kilometers at a 5% gradient).
The last kilometers run entirely uphill. The route rises with the steepest slope just before, and while crossing, the town of Valtournenche. The climb starts to level out gently three kilometers before the finish. With less than 2000 meters remaining to go, the average gradient is 1,4%. The 450-m long home straight, on 7-m wide asphalt road, has a 4% gradient. Over the last six kilometers, the stage course features two well-lighted tunnels.
The headline of this stage should be the duel between Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa. The 32-year-old Spaniard is still in the hunt for his first ever Giro d’Italia stage and the Cervinia stage will provide him with the second-to-last opportunity to reach this goal, while his fellow countryman will hope to take his third victory at the race and increase his value for the upcoming transfer period, when many World Tour teams will be ready to fight for his signature.
Steven Kruijswijk and Ryder Hesjedal – who have hit top form in the last week of the Corsa Rosa – are two other strong contenders for the win, with the Dutchman being also interested in the blue jersey, which he wants to take home. If an escape will succeed, then look for cyclists like Franco Pellizotti, Carlos Betancur, Stefano Pirazzi, Igor Anton, Darwin Atapuma, Mikel Nieve and Rigoberto Uran, who all hope to get something from the race.
Cervinia will be a stage finish for the fourth time in 98 runnings of the Giro d’Italia, and will return to the race three years after witnessing an historic moment, the first Costa Rican victory in a Grand Tour. In 2012, from a breakaway that got a big gap at the start of the day, Andrey Amador outsprinted Jan Barta and scored his biggest win to date.