2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 20 Preview
What happened on stage 19
It was a mammoth day, won in the end by Fabio Aru, the best young rider in the race, who surged clear from the pink jersey group with around seven kilometers to go and catched Ryder Hesjedal, before leaving the 2012 champion behind and ploughing on to the finish line on Cervinia. The 24-year old scored his fourth Grand Tour victory and climbed to second in the overall classification, 38 seconds clear of Mikel Landa, his Astana teammate, who came in the same group as Alberto Contador. The Spaniard from Tinkoff-Saxo retained the maglia rosa, who now he’ll wear for the 21st day in his career, with just two stages left until the end.
What comes now
This high mountain stage (Saint-Vincent-Sestriere, 199 kilometers) features the last summit finish of this year’s Giro. The first 150 kilometers run across the whole upper Po Valley, and serve as warm up towards the Colle delle Finestre climb. The route rolls through the Canavese area via Ivrea and Rivarolo Canavese, it rolls past Venaria Reale and reaches the Susa Valley, before hitting Colle delle Finestre, which is Cima Coppi (the title given to the highest peak in the Giro d’Italia) in 2015. Colle delle Finestre has an elevation of 2178 meters and was already climbed (with its non-asphalted sector) in 2005 and in 2011. The winner of the stage featuring the Cima Coppi will be awarded the “Trofeo Torriani”, in memory of the legendary race director, who reigned between 1949 and 1993.
Colle delle Finestre (18,5 kilometers) climb features a steady 9,2% gradient, from foot to summit (with just a short spurt in Meana di Susa with a maximum 14% slope). The road is paved over the first 9 kilometers, while the remaining 9 kilometers run on dirt road, up to the summit. The first part of the ascent features as many as 29 hairpin turns in less than 4 kilometers (totalling 45 hairpins up to the crest). In the first part (up to Pian dell’Alpe), the descent is technical, narrow and not protected.
As the stage course goes back to ss. 23, the climb of Sestriere (9,2 kilometers, average gradient 5,4%) ramps up again, with affordable slopes, up to the finish. The last kilometers run along the ss. 23, with wide and well-paved roadway, with just a small roundabout 500 meters from the finish. The 400-m long home straight is on 6.5-m wide asphalt road.
Mikel Landa lies third in the overall standings, but he’ll look to climb back to second at Sestriere, where it all depends on the strategy of Astana and Fabio Aru’s legs, who seems to be going better and is very motivated to finish one place higher than he did last year. Landa can’t attack his teammate – whose resurgence could continue on Saturday – so his best hope is an acceleration of Alberto Contador, whom he can follow without being too concerned about Aru, in case the Italian has another bad moment.
Mikel Nieve, Ryder Hesjedal, Rigoberto Uran and Steven Kruijswijk can also be contenders, but for this they need a status quo among the main favorites, which isn’t very likely. Kruijswijk will also want to win the mountains classification, but it won’t be an easy task for the LottoNL-Jumbo, as Movistar can play two cards for this, Beñat Intxausti and Giovanni Visconti, who wears the blue jersey after Cervinia.
Sestriere will host a Giro d’Italia finish for the seventh time, and for the first time since 2011. Previous winners here are Eduardo Chozas (1991), Miguel Indurain (1993), Pascal Richard (1994), Jan Hruska (2000), Jose Rujano (2005) and Vasil Kiryienka (2011). The most famous winner is Indurain, but the most spectacular stage was the one of 2005, when Paolo Savoldelli, Gilberto Simoni, Jose Rujano and Danilo Di Luca where the protagonists of one of the best fights the race has ever witnessed.