Clearing the road for the Giro

The Kronplatz is being cleared for the arrival of the Giro d'Italia mountain time trial in late May

The Kronplatz is being cleared for the arrival of the Giro d'Italia mountain time trial in late May (Image credit: Press al plan)

April 13 was the last day of the skiing season on the Kronplatz, in South Tyrol. On April 14, workers got busy with clearing the forest roads that allow access to the top of the mountain. The earlier they start the better, to prepare for stage 16 in the Giro d'Italia, to be held on May 26. All 30 ski lifts have been closed as of Sunday.

Heavy machinery is used to clear the way, as there are still tremendous amounts of snow. Skiers who were looking for snow would be happy, with some areas have up to three metres. The last five kilometres of the road are between 1700 and 2275 metres of altitude.

One of the more difficult stages in the Giro's history, the riders will have to fight it out for themselves. Stage 16 is a mountain time trial, starting at the public swimming pool in St. Vigil di Marebbe and going up to the Kronplatz (Plan de Corones). This will be the first time the ride goes up there. In 2006, the stage got cancelled due to bad weather.

The time trial is 'only' 13.8 kilometres long, but the riders will have to tackle a maximum of 24% on their way up to the ski resort. The average gradient is 7.9 percent. The riders will face an altitude gain of 1080 metres. The first part is paved, but then the last five kilometres are marked by a very steep dirt road.

The riders will make a left and then immediately tackle the Passo di Furcia (20 percent), before hitting the final pitch at 24 percent.

The hope is that the weather cooperates this time as otherwise both skiers (for early closure of the lifts) and spectators (for missing yet another epic stage) will be unhappy.

The technical director of the local organising committee, Danny Kastlunger, is confident. "In a few days the road should be clear and then we just need a few sunny days. In about two weeks the course should be good to be ridden on." The manager of the organising committee, Willi Kastlunger, is equally happy, stating that "As always the responsible of the skiing area Kronplatz are precise like Swiss clocks. The organising machinery is started and heads towards the May 26 Giro stage. All we need is nice weather. We are all looking forward to the Giro."

(Additional reporting and research provided by Susan Westemeyer and Greg Johnson)

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