Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Fabio Duarte, David Blanco and Gianpaolo Cheulthe on the Giau
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Valparola and Duran also included on road to Cortina
The Passo Giau will feature in a testing stage in the Dolomites in the final week of the 2012 Giro d’Italia. Gazzetta dello Sport has revealed details of the 187km stage on Wednesday May 23, which takes in four mountain passes on the road from Falzes to Cortina.
The first major obstacle of the day is the Passo Valparola, whose 13km of climbing brings the riders to an altitude of 2,197 metres. Though the average gradient is a manageable 6 per cent, the steepest sections of the climb come near the summit, including stretches of 13 per cent.
A long descent to the foot of the Passo Duran follows, and it is here that the stage’s difficulties begin in earnest – the final 70km see the peloton tackles three climbs in quick succession, with little if any opportunity for the race to come back together on the short descents between them. The Duran goes up for 12.2km, with an average gradient of 8.1 per cent but stretches of 14 per cent, and is followed immediately afterwards by the Forcella Staulanza (12.3km at an average of 6.9 per cent).
The final climb of the day is arguably the toughest, however, as the mighty Passo Giau awaits. The riders are faced with a series of 14per cent slopes at the foot of the climb, and there is little respite to be had all the way up the 9.9km pass, which has an average gradient of 9.3 per cent.
Included as part of the tappone to Gardeccia-Val di Fassa this year, the Passo Giau takes centre stage in 2012 and is just a short 17km descent from the finish in Cortina. The Dolomite town has itself hosted four Giro stage finishes in the past, including a victory from Fausto Coppi in 1948 after an attack on the Passo di Monte Croce.
While the Giro route is due to be presented in full on October 16, the map of the 2012 corsa rosa is already beginning to take shape. Organisers RCS last week announced that the penultimate stage of the race will take in the Mortirolo en route to a summit finish on the Stelvio, while details of the race’s opening stages in Denmark are due to be unveiled on Tuesday.
Tuttosport has also speculated that the Giro will feature a time trial in the Veneto after its arrival in Italy, and then travel southwards along the Adriatic coast. Its first summit finish is rumoured to take place at the end of week one at Lago Laceno, scene of an Alex Zulle stage victory in 1998. A stage to Cervinia, where Ivan Gotti rode to the pink jersey in 1997, is also touted to figure in the second week of the race.