The Giro d’Italia arrives in the Aosta Valley
The Giro d’Italia is coming back to Breuil-Cervinia. The third from last of the twenty-one stages scheduled for this year’s 263 kilometre-long Giro d’Italia route, the Gravellona Toce-Breuil-Cervinia will be the second longest stage of the whole Giro, but certainly one of the most difficult. The cyclists will have to tackle the 1,638 m Saint-Barthélemy and the 1,664 Col de Saint- Panthaléon, before getting to 2,001 m above sea level of Cervinia. This 19th stage is a real marathon in length and has three long climbs, one after the other. A really tricky series of ups and downs encountering the unexpected at every bend.
After the stretch in Piedmont, the route continues along the Aosta Valley floor, with mountains, castles and wonderful views all around. However, the difficult parts of the stage are concentrated in the last 100 km, when the competitors will not have the chance to catch their breath, with the climbs of Saint- Barthélemy, Saint-Pantaléon and Breuil-Cervinia, where the Matterhorn, silhouetted against a backdrop of the Valtournenche, majestically awaits the cyclists’ arrival.
The mountain stages are the main feature of the Giro d’Italia. They have a very steep average gradient (exceeding 20% at times), which do not necessarily always shorten the length of the route; this distinguishes them from the Tour stages and makes them extremely hard: the mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia put the world’s best climbers to the test, who, by tradition, are almost always the only ones who succeed in winning the Pink Race.
The cycling history of Cervinia is short but of serious quality. Three people have made it up there. In 1960 the stage was won by Aldo Kazianka. In ’97, with an attack on the Saint Pantaléon, Ivan Gotti caused a turn of fate in the race, taking the pink jersey from Tonkov and carrying it to the finishing line. In 2012 Andrey Amador was the winner, with a sprint from afar, but the success at Cervinia was above all Ryder Hesjedal’s victory. With general indifference, the Canadian won a handful of seconds which at the end of the Giro would result in him picking up the pink jersey.
The day after the Cervinia stage, the Giro cyclists will depart from Saint-Vincent (May 30th) for Sestriere (196 km), the penultimate stage before the grand finale with the Turin-Milan “parade” on 31 May 2015.
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