Start location: Sabbio Chiese
Finish location: Monte Bondone
Start time: 10:50 CEST
Finish time (approx): 17:15 CEST
When the Giro d’Italia visited Monte Bondone for the first time in 1956, legendary Luxembourg climber Charlie Gaul appeared to be out of contention in the race for the pink jersey. He was down in 24th place on GC, over a quarter of an hour behind the leader Pasquale Fornara, and, with just two flat stages left to race afterwards, overall victory was surely out of reach. But when extreme snow storms unexpectedly occurred overnight, conditions were in place for one of the most dramatic stages and all-time great comeback in cycling history.
The stage has gone down in history as one of the most brutal in cycling history. There was carnage in the peloton as a blizzard raged and the temperature plummeted, with half of the peloton dropping out of the race, among them Gaul’s great climbing rival Federico Bahamontes, and Fornara in the pink jersey. Excelling in such difficult weather was part of what made Gaul such a mythic figure, and while others simply couldn’t carry on, with some even collapsing in the cold, he was able to dig deep and keep going, hauling himself up Monte Bondone to win the stage by a mile and claim the pink jersey as his own.
Such conditions would of course cause the stage to be cancelled under modern cycling’s extreme weather protocol, but Monte Bondone is still a fearsome test whatever the weather. The highest mountain of the Granda Prealps, it’s known as the Mountain of Trento for the way it towers over that town
Stage 16 profile sourced on the Giro d’Italia website
Monte Bondone will today host a Giro d’Italia stage finish for the fourth time since that legendary day in 1956, and for the first time since 2006. On that occasion, Ivan Basso attacked halfway up in the pink jersey, putting himself in an even more commanding position by winning the stage 1-26 ahead of Gilberto Simoni in second, and 1-37 ahead of his nearest rival in the GC, José Enrique Gutiérrez.
It was possible to gain so much time as the climb is so long, and this time, tackled via its eastern side by the Aldeno road, the riders will spend a total of 21km going uphill, with the second half averaging an unforgiving 8.2%.
It’s sure to be one of the most important tests of the race, even more so considering all the climbing that precedes it. Though, at 1,632m high, Monte Bondone is the hardest of the five…
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