Local authorities are working against the clock to ensure that the Passo Gavia is open for business for the Giro d’Italia’s queen stage next Tuesday. Having seen heavy snowfall, the Gavia has been a concern for some weeks, and race organisers stated on Tuesday that there's a 60 per cent chance the roads can be cleared ahead of stage 16 from Lovere to Ponte di Legno.
With its peak at over 2,600 metres, it is not always possible to go up and over the Gavia in May. Indeed, in 2013 the organisers were forced to cancel a stage that had planned to climb the Gavia and the Stelvio due to the snowy conditions. Even the proposed alternative route proved too dangerous.
Stage 16 of the 2019 Giro d’Italia is set to be the queen stage at 226 kilometres, with the Gavia - this year’s Cima Coppi as the highest point on the route - followed by the Mortirolo ahead of the descent towards Ponte di Legno. At present, the race’s biggest climb is currently buried under snow, four metres at some points. Ponte di Legno mayor Ennio Donati remains confident that all will be ok come next Tuesday, but it depends on the weather turning in their favour.
"We are working hard to clean the roadway from the snowpack," Donati told Il Giorno. "This means they are working a lot. If the weather improves, we can be sure that we can clean the road. The only element we cannot keep under control is the weather conditions.
"If that morning the weather is bad, for example, the race director could decide not to let the cyclists pass the Gavia. In 2013, when the start was in Ponte di Legno, the stage was even cancelled due to snowfall. We can only hope that this time the sun smiles at us. For the rest, we are very ready."
The passage over the Gavia has been a concern for some time and the Giro d’Italia’s race director Mauro Vegni said that a plan B had been made for the eventuality that the Gavia is not accessible. He did not divulge what that route entailed but said that the previously reported double ascent of the Mortirolo was not a possibility.
"As things stand today, there is a 60 per cent chance of being able to ride the Gavia," Vegni said in a statement from the race organisers on Tuesday. "If the weather remains favourable, we are certain that the stage will be unchanged. Otherwise, we have an alternative route which does not involve two climbs of the Moritirolo."
Speaking earlier to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Vegni had said: "We are monitoring the situation day-by-day and will evaluate as best we can. As far as the Gavia is concerned, it makes no sense to talk about it so far in advance. The provinces of Brescia and Sondrio have been working for days on both sides day and night. Our hope is that the weather improves. I am convinced that we will be able to pass by Cima Coppi."