Giro d'Italia
Photo: Tim De Waele (FILE)

Risk of avalanche, icy roads forces Giro to remove Gavia climb

A risk of avalanches and icy roads has forced organizers to remove the Gavia from this year's Giro.

A risk of avalanche and icy roads has forced the hand of Giro d’Italia organizers, who decided to remove the emblematic Passo Gavia from Tuesday’s 16th stage.

Race director Mauro Vegni said worsening forecasts for the 2,618-meter climb meant it was just too dangerous to try to take the Giro peloton over what would have been the highest point of this year’s route.

“The real concern was the descent,” Vegni said Saturday. “The road is passable, but if the conditions worsen as the forecasts suggest, there is a risk that the road would be icy. And that is too much of a risk for the athletes.”

The adjusted route will start in Lovere and end in Ponte di Legno as scheduled. A new climb at the Cevo summit before Edolo will be introduced early in the route to make up for the Gavia’s absence. Instead of passing through Ponte di Legno and climbing the Gavia, the route will head west over the Aprica climb, descend to Mazzo di Valtellina before climbing the northern approach of the fearsome Mortirolo. From there, it descends and concludes in Ponti di Legno.The stage will be shorter at 194km compared to the 226km Gavia distance, with 4,800m of climbing.

“This was the only solution we had,” Vegni said. “It’s a real shame to take out the Gavia. It was best to make the decision now so that the teams and athletes can prepare adequately for the new situation.”

Vegni thanked crews and officials who have been working hard the past week to try to clear up to 15 feet of snow from the upper reaches of the famed Gavia climb.

Some riders will be relieved to not to have to climb Gavia, but it will likely make the final ascent of the Mortirolo even more decisive.