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Giro Stage 16 Preview: Belluno-Nevegal, Cronoscalata, 12.6 km

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Cronoscalata!

It’s all uphill for this stage 16 time trial. The course runs 12.6 kilometers from Belluno to Nevegal. The Nevegal climb is of the switch-backing persuasion. (You can stop climbing at Nevegal, though the profile continues a few kilometers further uphill.) The climb starts out easy, then pitches up steeply to 11%. As the road wends its way to the top, there are "easier" sections intermixed with steep ramps. I use that term "easy" rather loosely, of course. Definitely, this stage won’t tickle.

Stage Battle: This stage is for the super climbers, though these short climbs tend to suit a fairly specific sort of rider. The diesel climbers like Gilbert Simoni, who prefer several passes lined up one after the other, do not necessarily thrive on these short, intense time trial efforts. Giro d'Italia Podium CafeAt the moment, it’s difficult to imagine anyone out-climbing Alberto Contador on this stage, as he has dominated the mountains so far. A rider like Igor Anton could surprise here, but it is more likely that we will see the stage victory go to one of the bigs of this Giro d’Italia.

Maglia Rosa Matters: At only 12.6 kilometers, this time trial is too short to overturn the general classification. Typically, the standings reshuffle slightly on stages like this one, but it remains for the big mountain stages with their long passes to wreak their havoc on the general classification.

Already after two weeks of racing, the time gaps in the general classification have opened wide. Alberto Contador leads second-placed Michele Scarponi by 4:20. Only a really bad day in the coming mountain stages can defeat Contador now.

But further down the classification, the time gaps remain considerably closer and there is plenty of road left to reshuffle the standings. Only 51 seconds separates Scarponi from third-placed Vincenzo Nibali. John Gadret sits 57 seconds behind Nibali and Mikel Nieve, who won a stage last week in the mountains, is 55 seconds down on Gadret. The podium remains in play, and for all of these riders, this time trial is a red letter day. A good ride here could significantly improve their chances of standing on the final podium in Milano.

Cue Opera For: Even the sprinters must ride hard here, because a fast time from the leading rider could make the time cut tight. For the non-climbers, there’s nothing much to like about 12.6 kilometers of intense, straight uphill racing. That 14% gradient at kilometer 6.8 will not bring the smiles.

Stage 16 Maps and Profile at La Gazzetta. (Click Altimetria for the profile.)