Giro forced to tone down major mountain stage due to COVID restrictions
COVID restrictions have forced the Giro d’Italia to remove some of the sting from Stage 20. The difficult mountain stage won’t climb the 2744m-high Colle dell’Agnello or cross into France for the Col d’Izoard. Instead, it will climb Sestriere three times.
It will still be a hard day with 4,000 meters of climbing, but is quite a bit easier than the 5,500-meter day that was planned. The Colle d’Agnelo was seen as a likely contender for the most decisive climb of this Giro.
The decision was forced by French authorities withdrawing permission for the race to cross into French soil.
“We’re definitely going up the Stelvio [on stage 18] but we’ve got to change the penultimate stage,” Mauro Vegni told Italian TV. “I can confirm the rumors that we’ll climb up to Sestriere three times, once from Pragelato and then twice from the Susa/Cesena Torinese side.” Pragelato is the eastern approach of Sestriere and Susa/Cesena Torinese is the western approach.
An early plan B had the route crossing the dirt-surfaced Colle delle Finestre ahead of Sestriere, but that had to be scrapped as the road is already impassible by road bike due to snow. The eventual re-route includes only wide roads up to Sestriere that should be more easily cleared should it snow.
“The new stage gives us the guarantees that it can be held if there’s bad weather,” Vegni said. “We haven’t been able to create the amount or difficulty of climbing but there will still be around 4,000 meters of climbing.”
The announcement of the re-route came hours after the Mayor of Briançon, Arnaud Murgia, announced that the Interministerial Crisis Centre (CIC) was not allowing the race to pass through his town. He was “sad and disappointed,” he said, after pushing for the town’s inclusion in the race through the COVID summer.
Earlier in the day, Arnaud Murgia, Mayor of Briançon (through which the GIro was due to pass) announced that the Interministerial Crisis Centre (CIC) decided not to allow the race to pass through his town, noting that he was “sad and disappointed” by the news and had fought for months to host the race.