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Giro Stage 17: Tonally Strange

Hey! It’s a non-mountain mountains stage! But it’ll hurt anyway

Passo del Tonale
Tim de Waele

Stage 17: Tirano — Canzei, 219km

Wow, that’s another long stage. What this race lacks in amazing vertical, it makes up for it in horizontal I guess.


Stage 17 map


Stage 17 profile

Passo del Tonale

Passo del Tonale

AmyBC’s Wine of the Day

Cantina Furlani Rosso Alpino

From the importer: Towering over the alpine city of Trento, at some 700+ meters of altitude, are the tiny parcels of vines tended by Matteo Furlani. Matteo is the current custodian of his family plots high in the Dolomites; he is a fourth generation winemaker.

After studying agronomy, Matteo set his sights on working his land in the most natural of ways. Chemicals were never a part of what Matteo's predecessors used to tend the vines yet Matteo took an even more rigorous approach, incorporating biodynamic preparations and methodologies in the vineyards.

Did You Know?

That Italy has five autonomous regions, one of which is being visited on this stage? The race enters Alto Adige, a.k.a. SudTirol or South Tyrol, depending on which of several languages you want to go by. It’s the Italian alpine border that has changed the most in the last 100 years, and has autonomous status in order to keep the peace. Historically, the high mountains have seen lots of population movement passing through, and the Romans, Ostragoths and others helped establish the permanent population. At some point the Counts of Tirol established independence for the region, but Napoleon overran it and split it in half, with the southern portion belonging to Napoleonic Italy, which then went to the Austrian Empire until World War I, at which point the allied forces promised to annex it to Italy as an inducement to entering the conflict.

From 1943 to 1946 it was absorbed by Germany, but once the second world war started sorting out borders, South Tyrol was Italian again. But with a large German-speaking “minority” permanently ensconced there, something had to be done to prevent permanent unrest. The area was declared an autonomous region in 1946, but there was still so much friction between the different ethnic groups that terrorism sprung up, with a few deaths and considerable vandalism. Eventually, in 1971 the region was given such extensive self-rule powers that everyone accepted the outcome and peace was found at last.

Italy has four other autonomous regions: Sardinia, Sicily, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the Aosta Valley. The Friulian one actually doesn’t include Venice, but does include Trieste — another city that has had several owners, and with strong Croatian cultural influences. The Aosta Valley is a mix of Italian and French, with a local language of Valdotain thrown in for kicks. All of these regions, along with South Tyrol/Alto Adige, are considered autonomous. But Alto Adige is unique even in this unique group, because the regional government does nothing more than coordinate the two subregions Trentino and Sudtirol, who have all the actual authority. Language and shifting borders can lead to some real spaghetti administrative arrangements, but whatever works.

Austrian soldiers in South Tyrol, WWI

What’s the Stage About?

There are actually three rated climbs, the first one the Aprica ascent, and the second, the Tonale... both of which remind you that you’re in Gavia-Mortirolo territory, except neither of them is on the menu today. Oh well.

The stage barely merits a mention in Will’s Mountains Preview, which should tell you a little something -- namely, that while it’s hilly, it’s not going to create a selection. Unless someone gets aggressive and makes a selection, the prospects of which aren’t great, but we’ve seen these overlooked stages in the past end up as a place where a key rider makes his stand. About the only drama is whether overall leader Tom Dumoulin is fit enough to stay in contact, given the stomach issues he suffered on Tuesday, but after he limited his losses on a major climb, I’ll guess yes for now.

The length of the stage and the lack of exciting features means that the breakaway will be given some rope. It’s a long day though, so for someone to succeed from there they would have to put out a pretty heroic effort... or be given an awful lot of rope. Anyone’s guess as to how that plays out but there won’t be any gifts after this stage.

Pick to Win

The break, which means one of 50 or so riders I can think of. How bout one of those nice Gazprom boys? I’ll go with Foliforov.