Stage 20: Belluno to Marmolada (Fedaia Pass)
Date: May 28, 2022
Race times: 12:15-17:15 (CEST)
stage type: Mountains
The corsa rosa heads into the Dolomites for the final day of head-to-head racing, for an incredible queen stage that includes 4,490 meters of altitude gain, and a second summit finish in as many days.
Rolling out of the beautiful town of Belluno, the gateway to the Dolomites, the riders spend the first portion of the day on undulating terrain, yet it will feel flat compared with what’s to come. Following an intermediate sprint at 63.4km, the riders face the first of three category 1 ascents, the Passo San Pellegrino. It’s a long, arduous grind of 18.5km, and although the average gradient settles at 6.2 per cent, it’s a climb that intensifies as it goes along – the first 8.5km average just 4.4 per cent, before the central portion of the climb – 3.1 km at 5.9 per cent average. The final 5.8km rise at an average of 9 per cent with pitches of up to 15 per cent, and it will test the legs on what will undoubtedly be a decisive day across the board.
The central climb of the day holds an important place in the race as a whole: the Passo Pordoi is the cima coppi of the 2022 Giro d’Italia. The highest point reached by the race, the cima coppi carries special significance in terms of KOM points, so expect the battle for the maglia azzura to be won and lost here, if the standings are still close at this late stage in the game. It’s the first time in 20 years that the Pordoi has been the cima coppi.
At 11.8km with a 6.8 per cent average gradient, the penultimate climb in this year’s Giro is steady, unlike the final climb, the Passo Fedaia, which lies on the highest peak of the Dolomites, the Marmolada. While the average gradient on the 14km climb is 7.6 per cent, this belies the formidable nature of the final 5.4km, which sees the average closer to 11.2 per cent, with the pitch reaching an intimidating 18 per cent in places. Expect characteristic hairpins and breath-taking scenery as the riders do battle with their final daunting challenge of three weeks of racing.
It’s a summit finish befitting the final proper racing stage of a Grand Tour. If the GC standings hang in the balance at this late stage, those who can’t rely on their final time trial will have no choice but to attack, and try to endure the demands of these awe-inspiring ascents.