It’s not over yet. Chris Froome’s startling 80km solo break on the road to Bardonecchia altered the entire tone of the Giro d’Italia and felt like the decisive blow, but Friday’s tappone was only the second of a three-part instalment in the Alps. Stage 20 to Cervinia is another brute.
If Friday’s stage was a grim battle of attrition from the off, Saturday’s stage is largely about the sting in the tail. The day’s trio of category 1 climbs – the Colle Tsecore, Col de Saint Pantaleon and Cervinia – are all shoehorned into the final 90 kilometres of racing.
The Dutchman produced one of the best rides of his career in the Alps on Friday, yet still finished the stage 3:23 down. Small wonder that he was cautious about his prospects of overhauling Froome on the road to Cervinia. Third-placed Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), meanwhile, will be focused on maintaining the 40-second lead he holds over Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana). His 4:17 deficit to Froome seems insurmountable, barring the most dramatic jour sans from the overall leader.
After a flat but likely fast opening 120 kilometres, stage 20 takes on a different complexion with the first of three climbs, the Col Tsecore. The ascent goes up for 16km at an average gradient of 7.7 per cent and with maximum gradients of 15 per cent near the summit, which comes 67.5km from the finish.
As on Friday, the gaps could well be counted in minutes by the summit.