Stage Seventeen - Wednesday 23 May
187 kilometres, high mountain stage
Bluffers guide: Into the Dolomites proper with a humdinger over four passes. They’ll begin with Falzarego, one of the climbs immortalized by Fausto Coppi, then wade into Passo Duran and the Forcella Staulanza. All of which are legendary and brutally hard, but the real pain is to be found on the last climb of the day, the heinous Giau. Though the shortest of the bunch at “just” 12 kilometres, it’s gradients are never less then punishing. With an average height gain of 9.9% it will conclude a 4,500 metre climbing day which may well decide the outcome of the race. This is the stuff of Giro legend, so even if you can’t be there in person make sure you tune in, turn on and drop out.
Buon appetito: Not for nothing is Polenta known as the “Bread of the Dolomites”. A boiled cornmeal, it works with just about anything, just about any time. In these parts it’s often eaten with deer, or with sausage. Help it on its way, if you’re man enough, with a generous cherry strudel.
Local hero: Cesare Benedetti (NetApp) – An unfamiliar name even for Italian cycling fans, Benedetti rides for the German NetApp team which this year makes its Giro debut. Born in Rovereto, Benedetti will be all too au fait with the horrors in store along today’s route.
Bergonzi says: “It’s the Dolomite tappone, the big one. The Giau has a great history with the Giro, and that’s because it’s so hard. It has sections of 14% or so, but the real issue is that it doesn’t give you any respite; it’s never less than 7-8%. Therefore it’s normally the climb itself that makes natural selections. Thereafter they descend into Cortina, but in reality very few make up the difference there.”
Stage 17 Map
Stage 17 Profile