Giro d'Italia 2021: Stage 20 preview

Stage 20: Verbania-Alpe Motta

Date: May 29, 2021 

Distance: 164km

Stage start: 12:30 p.m. CEST

Stage type: Mountains

The penultimate day brings the eighth summit finish of this Giro at the end of a stage with more than 4,200 metres of vertical gain, almost all of it packed into the second half of the 165km run to the first-time finish of the Alpe Motta.

The action starts in Filippo Ganna’s hometown of Verbania, the first intermediate sprint arriving quickly at Cannobio. The route continues along the northern shore of Lake Maggiore, passing into Switzerland. Beyond Lostallo, the road, which has been rising very gradually all the time, starts to get a little steeper on the early pitches of the 30-kilometre Passo di San Bernardino, the first of a trio of first-category ascents. Its gradient averages 5.3 per cent, a stat that conceals its difficulty, the road climbing in three hard steps with flat sections in between.

From the 2,065-metre summit of the beautiful San Bernardino pass, the riders will descend very steadily to Splügen and turn onto the shorter, but consistently steeper Passo della Spluga, which has only been tackled once before, way back in 1965 when Vittorio Adorni led over the top. The hardest sections come in the final 4km when the gradient remains stubbornly above 8 per cent.

Crossing the Spluga’s summit, the race returns to Italy. The second half of the 16km drop into Campodolcino is steep and fast, where the riders will turn onto the stunning old road that climbs initially to Madesimo. This was originally planned as the finish, but the stage has been extended to the Alpe Motta (8.1 per cent), making the final ascent 8.9km long, the steepest gradients coming in that final section into the foot of the ski slopes.

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