Giro d'Italia 2020: Stage 18 preview

Stage 18: Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano

Date: October 22, 2020 

Distance: 207km 

Stage start: 10:15am CEST

Stage type: Mountain

Assuming the elements favour the race and the Stelvio pass is relatively snow-free in the latter part of October, this should be an epic stage, comprising more than 5,400 metres of vertical gain and a spectacular new finish at the Laghi di Cancano. This climb includes the “scale di Fraele”, 21 tightly-packed hairpins that have been compared with the Lacets de Montvernier in the French Alps.

The climbing begins right from the start in Pinzolo, the second-category Campo Carlo Magno above Madonna di Campiglio the day’s first test. Dropping away from it, the riders will arrive in the Val di Sole, but will soon be climbing away from it via a recently opened pass that appears on the route for the first time. Extending to 8.8 kilometres, the Passo Castrin/Hohmandjoch isn’t long but is consistently steep, averaging a shade over 9 per cent to its 1,704-metre summit. 

The descent takes the race into the Val d’Ultimo, passes Merano and turns west, tracking the River Adige upstream until it reaches the bottom of the Val Venosta, turning here to approach the Passo Stelvio from the Prato side. From this little town, the mythical ascent is close to 25km long, rising at an average of 7.5 per cent through 48 hairpins, many of the higher ones majestically engineered with the corners perched on towering walls of cut stone. The last third of the climb is above 2,000 metres, the altitude exacerbating the difficulty already posed by the Stelvio’s length and gradient.

The riders will descend most of the way towards Bormio, turning at Premadio to take on the ascent to the Laghi di Cancano. Averaging 6.8 per cent for 8.7 kilometres, it doesn’t compare with the Stelvio in stature, but, if the weather is fine, it will stand out both for the spectacular views and for the sheer beauty of the road, especially in those switchbacks towards the top from which the riders will emerge into two kilometres of flat to the finish next to the Cancano dam and lake.

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