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Giro Stage 20 Preview: Bormio - Passo del Tonale

Stage 20 :: Saturday May 29, 2010
178km :: Bormio - Passo del Tonale

Cioppino. Amore. Prosciutto. Pizza Margherita. Valpolicella. These words could all compete for favorites in the Italian language for me, but for my money, nothing beats the two word combo of "Cima Coppi". It combines culture, sport, history, heroism, dedication and nationalism in two words that mean so much to folks like us.

To bear the imprimatur of Il Campionissimo means you are the highest mountain climbed in that year's Giro and the Centenary edition combines love of Coppi with love of PodiumCafe as the Passo di Gavia is the Cima Coppi this year.

While not Chris' beloved Stelvio, the Gavia (and how strange it is to write about it and not mean she of the floppy hat and salty plank) is epic in it's own right. 2618m high, 24.9km long, rising one and a third kilometers in elevation over that distance and averaging 5.6% while maxing out at 14%. But numbers don't tell the whole story. What does it take to win the Giro? What dedication to suffering? What limits must one push past? The Passo di Gavia provides the ultimate answer in a picture that is worth more than any words that could be spoken on the topic. Andy Hampsten, Stage 14, Giro d'Italia, 1988.

Five rated climbs on Saturday: Forcola di Livigno (a brute and a half), the Passo di Eira, Passo di Foscagno, Passo di Gavia and the final summit finish in Ponte di Legno.  I don't think there's a single section without a gradient in the whole stage.  We also cross from Italy into Switzerland (Hey Will! Moo!) and then back into Italy.

La Passo's Prognostication:

I ain't pasting the surf report this time. Gavia's namesake mountain is in tomorrow's stage so she has no excuse for slacking this time around :) Gavia stage! Yew! I have a longer story coming on today's stage and tomorrow's adventures. À presto!

Professor Frink, Professor Frink, He'll make you laugh, He'll make you think:

Basso's got it! Arroyo takes it back! Flying downhill. WTF. They are screwing it up.. Basso takes it!

That was the stage. In Between a lot of Bah's or Dammit's from cracked Evans, Porte, Vino and Sastre. Good old has to retire Sastre.

Chapeau to Liqui. They did as expected.. But they could done as expected. Ok. My favorite Polish lumber is getting old but Kiserlovski is the star for the future and takes his place.

Cap of the day.. A devasted Arroyo who already turned back when the Rabo-train was coming in.

Tomorrow? Liqui has it. Nothing to win tomorrow. Gained time on everyone. Only Nibali in second.. So the concept is easy tomorrow. Climb up. Let Nibali descend like he has .. the Devil on his tail on the Gavia downhill. And you've got yourself a second place... If he doesn't drop Basso too far back.. Because will they let Nibali ride if it seems that he is going to win the Giro? We'll see about that tomorrow. For now.. He takes it. At least the stage.. At least

Chris somehow managed not to mention Coppi or Stelvio.  I'm baffled.

Action: Last chance for the climbers to make their point. Of course, in past years when the Giro has been this ridiculously hard, the race has ended early, so expecting the GC battle to still be taking shape may be too much to hope for. Nevertheless, we don't name our co-editors after lesser climbs than the Passo di Gavia. Oh, and the Forcola di Livigno is about as hard. And the stage finishes with a 12km hump to Tonale Pass.

Pageantry: There's nothing fun about watching grown men cry.

The Plan: Honestly, it's pretty shameful that they still haven't settled the North Seattle Little League Tee-Ball umpire's strike. Shouldn't someone have called the NLRB by now?

Another balloon shaped stage.  The riders head south out of Bormio and make a large loop, heading up to the first climb, the Forcola di Livigno.

A valley ride is held, passing by a picturesque little lake, and then at Poschiavo, it's on.  Business Time.  Forcola di Livigno: 2315m in elevation, 18km long rising 1278m and has a higher average gradient than the Passo di Gavia at 7.1%.  The route climbs through a little town called "Sfazu" which I believe is named after the Galactic Overlord that will eventually return to enslave the population of Earth.

Once over the Forcola di Livigno, it's a fairly simple descent to the feed zone in Livigno before climbing immediately to the Passo di Eira at 2211m

In rapid succession you have to climbs...

  1. Passo di Eira: 2211m high, 6.2km long.  Rises 395m averaging 6.4% and maxing at 10%
  2. Passo di Foscagno: 2291m.  4.6km long rising 270m averaging 5.9% and maxing at 10% as well.

The descent from the Passo di Foscagno back to Bormio to complete the balloon is a little naughty with several sharp hairpins by the look of it (you must have ridden this, right Will?) and then through Bormio its onto the string holding the balloon and to the Cima Coppi.

The Cima Coppi; Passo di Gavia.  2618m.

And the final climb of the stage and the 2010 Giro: Passo del Tonale, 1883m.  12.1km long, rising 631m.  Average is 5.2% and max is 10%.

Here are the official materials from La Gazetta:

  1. Stage Map
  2. Stage Profile
  3. Timetable
  4. Climb Details

Here's PodiumCafe's Google Earth map file for the stage.