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Giro d'Italia adds new descending classification with segments including Passo dello Stelvio

The Giro d'Italia has added a new prize category for the 100th edition of the race, the Pirelli Premio Miglior Discesista – a contest for the fastest descender over 10 different segments, including that from the highest peak of the race, the Passo dello Stelvio. But the director of the ANAPRC riders organisation, which has successfully lobbied over the past two seasons for improvements in rider safety, called the competition "irresponsible".

The Giro organisers have picked 10 different segments from stage 8 to stage 20, and will award the fastest rider through each segment €500, a prize equal to what the rider in the best young rider's maglia bianca earns each day.

According to the rule book, times will be recorded along the following downhill stretches (starting kilometer):
Stage 8 – Monte Sant'Angelo (km. 100.7)
Stage 9 – Chieti (km. 91.2)
Stage 11 – Monte Fumaiolo (km. 135.8)
Stage 12 – Colla di Casaglia (km. 63.4)
Stage 15 – Selvino (km. 170.8)
Stage 16 – Passo dello Stelvio (km. 143.5)
Stage 17 – Passo del Tonale (km. 60.2)
Stage 18 – Passo Pordoi (km. 26.0)
Stage 19 – Sella Chianzutan (km. 104.7)
Stage 20 – Monte Grappa (km. 122.7)

The top five fastest times will be awarded with 8, 5, 3, 2 and 1 points, respectively. At the end of the Giro d'Italia, the rider with the most points will earn €5000, with €3000 for second and €2000 for third place. The winner of the descending competition earns the same amount as the winner of the mountains classification of overall best climber.

While most of the segments come early or mid-stage, the descending competition on stage 11 will be challenged alongside a push for the stage victory - the Monte Fumaiolo, which crests at km 135.8, begins the day's descending segment with just 25.2km left in the stage. The stage 15 Selvino descent comes with 28.2km to go. The Stelvio on stage 16 is the Cima Coppi - the highest point of the Giro - and its segment comes just before the decisive Umbrailpass and the downhill finish to Bormio.

In 2015, an attack by Nairo Quintana on the descent of the Stelvio in snowy conditions sparked controversy because some of the peloton had understood the racing to be neutralised for the descent for safety reasons.

There is no mention in the rule book of any provisions for neutralisation of the competition for inclement weather, and Michael Carcaise, the executive director of the ANAPRC riders union called the decision to hold a contest "dangerous and irresponsible".

"I won't give the competition sponsor what they seek by naming them again, but they and the Giro organizers should find another way to support this beautiful race and the riders who animate it," Carcaise said. "A 'fastest descender' competition is dangerous and irresponsible. Of course descending is already part of racing, but it should not be isolated into a new competition that incentivizes risk-taking for its own sake."

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