Cold and snow may force organizers to alter Friday's and Saturday's routes
VICENZA, Italy (AFP) — Wintry weather in the Italian Dolomites could force changes to the route of the final two mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia, according to organizers on Wednesday.
Concerns over the conditions expected on Friday’s 19th stage from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello, which will go through the Gavia and Stelvio mountain passes, were raised last week due to the unseasonably cold weather in the high mountains.
At 2,758 meters in altitude, the Stelvio is the highest point of this year’s race, which Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is currently leading with a 1:26 advantage over Australian Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
Organizers said the road over the Stelvio was clear and could be raced, but the climb and descent could be hit by severe weather.
Saturday’s 20th stage, the final day in the mountains, begins in Silandro and takes in four mountain passes with altitudes over 1,700 meters, before finishing at the legendary Trois Cimes de Lavaredo (2,304 meters).
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, whose parent company RCS organizes the race, the temperature could fall to as low as minus 14 degrees Celsius on Friday.
Organizers said they are “studying all possible routes” with a view to making last minute changes if necessary.”
Adverse weather conditions have already forced changes to the route.
Last Saturday, organizers had to pull the Col de Sestrieres from stage 14 because of freezing temperatures in the Italian Alps.
A day later, the finish line of the 15th stage, initially set up at the summit of the legendary Galibier climb in France, was moved 4.2 kilometers down the mountain because of snowy conditions.
The race finishes Sunday when the 21st stage leads the peloton over a mostly flat 197km from Riese Pio X to Brescia.