Giro d'Italia 2020: Stage 17 preview

Stage 17: Bassano del Grappo to Madonna di Campiglio

Date: October 21, 2020 

Distance: 203km 

Stage start: 10:20am CEST

Stage type: Mountain

This is another summit finish, like Piancavallo, where Marco Pantani was the first victor, back in 1999, and it was in the wake of that success that the Italian was forced to quit the race as a result of an elevated haematocrit level. Coincidentally, as was the case at Piancavallo, when the Giro returned to Madonna di Campiglio in 2015, Mikel Landa was the stage winner.

This long day in the mountains begins at Bassano del Grappo. From the start, the route rises very gently for the opening 40km to reach the foot of the first-category ascent of the Forcella Valbona. It climbs for 22 kilometres, averaging 6.6 per cent, the gradient not fluctuating much either side of that figure for the most part, its sheer length the main difficulty.

The long drop away from the Valbona leads down into the valley carved by the Adige River and quickly reaches the bottom of another first-category test, Monte Bondone. Tackled from the opposite flank to the one made famous when Charly Gaul took control of the 1956 Giro in a snowstorm, it’s still a severe challenge. The climb averages 6.8 per cent for 20km, but the gradient varies much more than on the Valbona, with several pitches into double figures and one 4km section halfway at 10 per cent.

Another long descent leads down to the first intermediate sprint at Ponte Arche and onto the third-category Passo Durone, by every measure the easiest ascent of the day although it still contributes another 10km of climbing. After dropping away from it, the route climbs steadily towards the final test, passing the second sprint at Caderzone Terme.

A handful of kilometres beyond, the road ramps up towards Madonna di Campiglio, which is classified as first-category. Averaging 5.7 per cent gradient over 12.5 kilometres, it’s not especially hard in terms of profile, but coming onto it the riders will already have more than 50km of climbing in their legs. The 2015 stage suggests the gaps between the favourites will be small, but that there will be gaps.

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