Giro d'Italia 2014, stage 19 description, map and profile: Friday, May 30
When Friday May 30
From Bassano del Grappa
To Cima Grappa (Crespano del Grappa)
Category Mountain time trial
As in most Giros of this decade, there will be a mountain time trial in the final week to pit the riders mano-a-mano against one another up one of the nation’s toughest climbs — this year, it’s the historic Monte Grappa.
When included, this is usually one of the most crucial disciplines in a Grand Tour, and has regularly proved decisive; Vincenzo Nibali in 2013 and Alberto Contador in 2011 won the equivalent wearing the pink jersey, en route to overall victories (although Contador’s win would later be voided due to a backdated doping violation).
After an eight-kilometre ride to the foot of the climb, the gradient tilts up to seven per cent and hardly lets up for the rest of the 19km. In fact, after a series of switchbacks on the lower the slopes, the gradient increases to nearly nine per cent in the second half of the climb, ensuring big time gaps between riders at the finish.
Legends such as Eddy Merckx have won here before, but the Grappa is renowned for being a favourite of amateurs — cyclists from Padua, for instance, assemble here every year on June 13th to celebrate their city’s patron St Anthony.
Did you know?
Grappa gives its name to the eponymous alcoholic beverage, which was invented here, probably by monks in the 11th century. Made from pomace that is put through a second process of distillation, the brandy is often served as an after-dinner drink. The riders may think twice about trying some at their post-race meal — but with the Zoncolan awaiting them tomorrow.