Monday 24 May - Stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia is an arduous test in the Dolomites. The race between Sacile and Cortina d’Ampezzo is 212 kilometres long and takes in an elevation gain of 5,700 metres.
The label Queen Stage is in order, since the riders tackle the Passo Pordoi and reach the highest point of the 2021 Giro. The first climber over the Pordoi earns this year’s Cima Coppi.
The riders start to climb from the gun, although the first 10 kilometres are merely false flat. Then La Crosetta begins. The 11.6 kilometres climb goes up at 7.1%. A huge battle for the breakaway is to be expected on the ascent.
After La Crosetta the riders enter the calm before the storm. Some 70 kilometers run false flat uphill to the foot of the first of three huge ascents. Starting in Caprile, the Passo Fedaia is 14 kilometres long and averages 7.6%. The first half climbs at shallow gradients, while the last 5.5 kilometres ramp up to 11%.
The downhill leads straight onto the Passo Pordoi. The highest point of the 2021 Giro peaks out at 2,239 metres, which is a far cry from the Stelvio’s 2,758 metres. Featuring 28 hairpins, the steady ascent is 11.8 kilometres long and the average gradient sits at 6.8%.
Back in the valley the riders tackle some minor climbs before entering the last ascent of the day. The Passo Giau is almost as high as the Pordoi – just 6 metres less -, but much harder. The 9.9 kilometres climb averages 9.3%.
The finale of the Queen Stage is a 17 kilometres descent into Cortina d’Ampezzo.
It has been nine years since the Giro last visited Cortina d’Ampezzo. Back then, Joaquim Rodriguez won the stage – with a similar finale – ahead of Ivan Basso, Ryder Hesjedal, Rigoberto Uran, Michele Scarponi, and Domenico Pozzovivo. At the end of the day it proved to be insufficient, as Hesjedal won the GC in 2012 16 seconds ahead of ‘Purito’.
The second intermediate sprint comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds, while time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds are awarded to the first three riders on the line.
The 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia starts at 10.50 and the race is expected to finish around 17.15 – both are local times (CEST).