Blockhaus' roads prohibit Giro's arrival

Stage 17 to Blockhaus to be shortened?

Stage 17 to Blockhaus to be shortened? (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Giro d'Italia's mythical stage to Blockhaus in Abruzzo, Italy is at risk of being shortened due to the roadway's limited passage in the final four kilometres. While the tenth stage from Cuneo to Pinerolo was altered due to the possibility of roads becoming impassable due to snow, the Blockhaus stage may be shortened because the road is too narrow for the television trucks to pass.

"From the Pomilio refuge [1892m, -2km] and onwards, there has always been problems with passage," said a representative from Hotel Mamma Rosa, which lies on the route 5.8 kilometres from the planned finish line. "The last significant snow we had was at the end of March. Ten centimetres fell last week, but it passed in two to three hours."

The shortened stage would alter this year's Cima Coppi, the race's highest pass. Already changed from the now removed Col d' Izoard, which would have topped off at 2360m, a shortened Blockhaus climb (2064m) would move the Cima Coppi to stage 10's Colle del Sestriere (2035m).

The Blockhaus stage 17 promises to be one of the most explosive stages. At just 79 kilometres in length, it was slated to end on a punishing 22.5 kilometre ascent which climbs 1540 metres in altitude. The final kilometres to the top, which include a section of 11 percent grades, could be sacrificed due to narrow roads.

The climb is notable for being the place where cycling legend Eddy Merckx launched his stage racing career. Forty-two years ago when Merckx won his first career mountain top finish at Blockhaus, it was 220 kilometres long. It was the first time organisers used the climb.

Blockhaus featured three more times after 1967. In 1968, Franco Bitossi won the 198-kilometre stage; in 1972, José Manuel Fuente topped a 48-kilometre half-stage in the morning; and in 1984, Moreno Argentin won a 194-kilometre run from Numana.

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