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Giro d’Italia 2021 Stage 20 (5 stars)
VERBANIA–VALLE SPLUGA-ALPE MOTTA
Saturday, May 29
164km (mountains, summit finish)
This final day of climbing can either be sensational or a dud. Last Giro’s stage 20 to Sestriere was spectacular and ended with Geoghegan Hart and Hindley tied on overall time before the TT finale in Milan. Such a conclusion was unprecedented, so what’s more likely is that the climbers fighting for the podium will be seeking as many seconds’ advantage over the stronger time trialists on this last mountaintop finish. So, it shouldn’t be a dud. Maybe it will even see a conclusion like that achieved by Froome when he overcame a three-minute deficit with a massive solo break to take the pink jersey in 2018; but more likely is the stage win being fought out between members of an early breakaway.
The course favors such an outcome, because the flat opening kilometers along the north shore of Lake Maggiore and another hour of racing through Switzerland favor the formation of a big break. And though they will face two high-altitude mountain passes, the San Bernardino and Splügen, respectively 24 and 9 kilometers long, these climbs both average in the 6- to 7-percent range on well-engineered Swiss highways. The final 7.3-kilometer ascent to the tiny Alpe Motta ski station is somewhat steeper but it does have a 13-percent pitch 1.5 kilometers before the summit finish. Let’s hope it’s a sensational one.
SCHEDULE (all times EDT)
Verbania start (0km) after 6.2km neutral (6:30 a.m.); Cannobio (sprint), 147.9km to go (6:53 a.m.); Passo San Bernardino (Cat. 1), 57.8km to go (9:29 a.m.); Splügenpass (Cat. 1), 29.2km to go (10:22 a.m.); Madesimo (sprint), 2.4km to go (11:05 a.m.); Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta (Cat. 1 finish), 165km (11:13 a.m.).