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Giro loses its top

Organisers of the Giro d'Italia were forced to make last-minute changes to one of the key mountain stages of this year's race. RCS Sport announced Wednesday that the planned route for stage 10 would now take place entirely in Italian territory rather than crossing the border into France, and will not include the planned highest peak, the Col d'Izoard.

The stage, set to take place on May 19 from Cuneo to Pinerolo, was intended to duplicate the epic stage won by legend Fausto Coppi in the 1949 edition of the race. However, the descent from the Colla della Maddalena (Col de Larche) just over the border in France, has been closed for the winter due to avalanche risks.

RCS Sport said it was unable to have the travel ban lifted despite a favorable recommendation from officials. It also cited difficulties in settling on radio frequencies to be used by the race in France as a reason to keep the stage inside Italian borders.

Heavy late winter storms dumped up to 80cm of new snow in the Southern Alps at the end of March, with many roads being closed due to avalanches.

The organisers had devised an alternative course in December in case the roads were not open for travel. That detour took the race over the Colle dell'Agnello (Col d'Agnel), but this pass, too, is closed for the winter through June.

The Tour de France was modified to skip the Col de Larche on stage 15 for similar reasons last year, and the race went over the Col d'Agnel instead.

The new route for the Giro's stage 10 will tack on an additional 10km to an already lengthy stage. Now topping out at 260km, the stage drops the number of classified climbs from five to three. The first climb will come at km 131.9, the Moncenisio (1432m), followed by the climb to Sestrières, now at kilometre 201.7 rather than 195.4.

Instead of the 55km descent from Sestrières, the race will now detour to take in an additional climb, the Pramartino. the climb is just 918m, but coming at kilometre 252, just 8km before the finish line, it could provide a more suitable finish for the contenders for the overall classification to take time out of their rivals.

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