Giro d'Italia stage 19 rerouted after tragic cable car crash at Mottarone mountain

The new profile of stage 19 of the 2021 Giro d'Italia
The new profile of stage 19 of the 2021 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: RCS Sport)

Organisers of the Giro d’Italia announced that it will reroute stage 19 from Abbiategrasso to Alpe di Mera to bypass the mid-race climb at Mottarone mountain after a tragic cable car crash killed 14 people, including at least one child, on Sunday.

"Following the tragic events of last Sunday that involved the Mottarone Cableway - and in agreement with the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, the Piedmont Region and all the other institutions concerned, have decided to modify the route of stage 19 of the Corsa Rosa," RCS Sport wrote in a statement released on Tuesday.

The race observed a minute of silence before Monday's stage 16 to honour the 14 victims of the cable car crash.

Stage 19, set to take place on Friday, May 28, will be 10km shorter, with riders starting in Abbiategrasso before travelling northward toward Lago Maggiore, climbing up to Orta San Giulio, Miasino, and Armeno, as previously planned, but then bypassing the category 1 Mottarone. The race will instead travel over the category 4 climb to Gignese (83km) before descending down to Stresa.

The peloton will then follow the original route with an intermediate sprint in Baveno (107km), a climb over the Passo della Colma (127.4km), another intermediate sprint at Scopetta (151.5km) before finishing at the summit of Alpe di Mera (166km).

The route was originally designed to climb over the Mottarone, a 5.6km ascent averaging 6.5 per cent, peaking at the 85km-mark on the stage, before dropping down into Gignese and then into Stresa along the shores of Lago Maggiore.

The area is home to a popular cable car that takes tourist passengers from the resort town of Stresa to the top of the Mottarone mountain. 

The cable car crash happened about 12:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, however, the cause of the incident remains unclear. Local reports suggest the cable may have failed about 300m (984ft) from the top of the mountain, with the cabin falling 20 metres into the forested area below.

An investigation has been opened into the crash with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi describing it as a "tragic accident".

"I express the condolences of the whole government to the families of the victims, with a special thought for the seriously injured children and their families," he said in a statement, reported the BBC.

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Kirsten Frattini