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Giro d’Italia 2014: Week 3 Preview

The 2014 Giro d'Italia wraps up with three big days in the mountains and an uphill time trial

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Climber’s paradise

The third week is all about going up

The closing week could be dubbed the Giro d’Italia’s greatest hits, with the Gavia, Stelvio and Monte Zoncolan included in a brutal string of climbing stages across the Alps and Dolomites. A climbing time trial at Monte Grappa could prove decisive, but it will be the lithe climbers who carry the day, and likely the pink jersey, into Trieste.

The Giro clicks back into gear following the third and final rest day with a brutal climbing stage in the short, but action-packed 139km stage ending atop Val Martello. Before the final summit, the ever-weary peloton will tackle the Gavia and the Stelvio on the “easy side,” meaning they will snake down the Stelvio’s north-face switchbacks leading to the base of Val Martello. Buckle your seatbelts.

Stage hunters will get another chance in the 204km 17th stage into Vittorio Veneto before heading into the three-climb 18th stage, which ends atop Valsugana. Two early climbs will likely see breakaways pull clear; the GC faves will surely hold fire until the final, 16km climb to the summit. The 19.3km climbing time trial up Cima Grappa, with an average grade of eight percent and maximum ramps of 14 percent, will see the GC favorites gritting their teeth to defend, or improve, their positions.

More than three weeks of racing comes to a roaring crescendo in the penultimate stage, which ends atop the punishingly steep ramps of Monte Zoncolan. Steep, technical roads lace over two summits before hitting the base of Italy’s steepest road. The pink jersey could well be decided, but the final podium could see some reshuffling. Zoncolan is so steep that it’s very difficult to accelerate or attack, but anyone on a bad day will hemorrhage time. Drama is assured no matter what happens in what will likely be a two-front race: the first between stage hunters, and a second among the final GC contenders.

Any surviving sprinters will have a shot at glory when the 97th Giro culminates in Trieste for the first time in race history.

Stage 16: May 27, Ponte di Legno — Val Martello/Martelltal (139km)
Stage 17: May 28, Sarnonico — Vittorio Veneto (204km)
Stage 18: May 29, Belluno — Rif. Panarotta (171km)
Stage 19: May 30, Bassano del Grappa — Cima Grappa (26.8km ITT)
Stage 20: May 31, Maniago — Monte Zoncolan (167km)
Stage 21: June 1, Gemona del Fruili — Trieste (169km)

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