Stage 15: Base Area Rivolto to Piancavallo
Date: October 18, 2020
Stage start: 11:05am CEST
Stage type: Mountain
This stage start pays tribute to the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian aerobatics display team that is based at Rivolto and is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2020. Once they have performed overhead, there should be plenty more high-flying action with four climbs on the menu, the last of them up to Piancavallo where Marco Pantani was the solo winner on the Giro’s first visit in 1998. On the race’s return in 2017, Mikel Landa emulated Pantani, while Tom Dumoulin couldn’t stay with his GC rivals and lost the maglia rosa to Nairo Quintana.
The road to the ski resort begins on the Friuli plain. It rises gently for the opening 50 kilometres or so, the gradient kicking up significantly for the first time on the Sella Chianzutan, a second-category climb that averages 5.4 per cent over 10.6 kilometres. The first intermediate sprint lies in the valley beyond, where the riders are soon climbing again, initially to the uncategorised Forcella di Priuso and then to another cat 2 hurdle, the Forcella di Monte Rest. This one is not long at 7.4km, but averages a steady 8 per cent gradient once past its early ramps.
After running downhill for 25km, the road rears up again, passing through the second sprint at Poffabro on route to the third category 2 hill of the day, the Forcella di Pala Barzana, which extends 13.3 kilometres but averages just 4.4 per cent. Another long drop follows to reach Aviano, at the foot of the climb to the first-category finale at Piancavallo.
It’s been designated as this year’s Cima Pantani, the climb most representative of “Il Pirata”, honouring that 1998 stage win. At 14.5km long, its steepest sections come in the opening half-dozen kilometres, which average 9.4 per cent and feature several pitches that are two and three points above that. Any rider who loses even a little ground here is likely to yield a lot more on the second half of the climb, where the easier grades will enable rivals to increase their advantage, as Quintana was able to do three years ago.
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