Giro d'Italia's 17th stage from Chieti to Blockhaus has been shortened by 5.5 kilometres due to road problems. The 83-kilometre stage, May 27, will now finish with an 18-kilometre climb up the mythical area where cycling legend Eddy Merckx won his first ever mountaintop finish.
"We don't want to ask a region that is suffering from the earthquake to spend time and money to widen the road. We took the decision this morning to shorten the stage," said race director Angelo Zomegnan.
The stage will finish near Hotel Mamma Rosa, at 1631 metres. A representative from the hotel told Cyclingnews yesterday that "from the Pomilio refuge [1892m, -2km] and onwards, there has always been problems with passage" for large vehicles.
Snowfall in the winter reportedly prohibited work and the Abruzzo region dealt with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake on April 6.
To maintain the stage's distance an additional (flat) section will be included at the beginning of the stage. The subtraction of approximately 433 metres means the Cima Coppi (race's highest point) will be switched to stage 10's Colle del Sestriere (2035m). The Alpine pass was the first in the Giro to surpass 2000 metres when it was used in 1911.
Merckx won the Blockhaus stage in 1967, the first time organisers included it. Blockhaus featured three more times: In 1968 when Franco Bitossi won, in 1972 (José Manuel Fuente) and in 1984 (Moreno Argentin).