Peaks and shocks: the third and last week of the Giro d’Italia promises to be terrible from Tuesday with a succession of mountain passes where the final victory will be played out and where many pages of cycling legend have been written.
Of the six remaining stages, four will send the peloton to high altitude where the big favorites will be able to explain themselves before the flat finish on Sunday in Rome. Three days promise to be particularly decisive, Tuesday towards Monte Bondone, Friday at Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the time trial uphill on Saturday to the sanctuary of Monte Lussari.
Monte Bondone, in the lair of the Angel of the Mountain
The day after the rest day, the riders will enter directly into the tough Tuesday with five passes including the final, legendary climb to Monte Bondone, above Trento.
The climb was catapulted into legend when it first appeared in 1956 when Luxembourg’s Charly Gaul knocked down the Giro there in extreme conditions.
Braving a snowstorm, the Angel of the Mountain erased a disbursement of 16 minutes on the pink jersey Pasquale Fornar, stopped by force by his sports director who feared for his health.
On arrival, Gaul had to be literally ripped off his bike and his jersey cut with scissors because of the frost. Since then, the ascent has become a classic. Tuesday the runners will climb it for the 14th time, by the Aldeno side, not the steepest (6.7% all the same) but very long (21.4 km).
Tre Cime di Lavaredo, in the footsteps of Merckx
If Monte Bondone is the mountain of Gaul, the Tre Cime are the stronghold of Eddy Merckx. Emblem of the Dolomites, these three fingers of rotten rock have been on the program since 1967.
The following year, the Belgian forged his nascent legend there by attacking in the rain which quickly turned to snow. Unleashed, he took nine minutes from the 16 breakaways to win his first Grand Tour a few days later. He will qualify his flight as his greatest performance in the mountains.
Tuesday, the Giro will pass for the 8th time at the Tre Cime which has become, at 2,304 m, the roof of this 106th edition after the withdrawal of the Grand-Saint-Bernard course.
The slope (7.2 km at 7.6%) becomes terrible in the last four kilometers, at 12%. The Giro could be played out during this royal stage which also includes the terrible Passo Giau (9.9 km at 9.3%) where Egan Bernal had cemented his success in the Giro in 2021.
Monte Lussari, a dizzying first
This is the great novelty of this Giro 2023 and it risks causing a stir: on the eve of the arrival in Rome, the 18.6 km individual time trial leading to Lussari will serve as the ultimate justice of the peace.
Until a few months ago, the road leading from Ponte del Torrente Saisera to the 16th century sanctuary was a simple mule track. Then the local authorities decided to asphalt it and offer the Giro a new playground.
And it is dizzying: with an average gradient of 7.3 km at 12.1%, the narrow path that leads to the finish line at an altitude of 1,790 m is truly frightening and will punish any failure in minutes.