The Toughest Stage Of The Giro d’Italia (It’s Snow Joke) | Stage 16 Preview

The Toughest Stage Of The Giro d’Italia (It’s Snow Joke) | Stage 16 Preview


(dramatic music) (singers vocalizing) – Whoo! (laughs) (upbeat pop music) Not all Grand Tour
stages are created equal. Some are little more than a gentle spin down some pristine roads,
and others are monsters. – And this is a monster. Stage 16 of the Giro
starts here on the shores of Lake Iseo, and it’s 226 kilometers long with over 6,000 meters of elevation, including the utterly bonkers climbs of the Gavia and the
Mortirolo back to back. I mean, it sounds
absolutely brutal, James, but how hard do you reckon it is? – Well, I guess we’re going
to have to ride it, mate. Come on.
– I guess we are. – Come on. – In the absence of our team
bus and hordes of adoring fans that are normally greeting us
at the start of a big ride, we’re taking the opportunity to have a nice chilled-out, pre-ride espresso. And interestingly, for
the start of this stage, the organizers have pushed
the start back to 10:30 a.m., so it’s earlier than normal
because it’s expected that the winner will take seven hours, and you can expect that
the gruppetto and sprinters could take 40 minutes to
an hour longer than that. It’s going to be a massive day out. – You’re saying that,
Ollie, it’s 10:30 already. – What?
– Well, it’s 10:30. We need to get cracking. – It’s going to be a
long day, this, innit? – Well, that’s if we can even do it. – The route of the stage leaves Lovere and climbs up to the
first summit of the day, the Passo della Presolana,
then just 17 kilometers later, topping out at another
climb, the Croce de Salven. In the shadow of what’s to
come, they look pretty modest, but at 1,300 meters,
I suspect they will be tough tests in their own right. After that, the fun really begins as the road pitches
upwards for 70 kilometers to what will be the highest
point of this year’s race, the Cima Coppi, the Gavia, which tops out at 2,618 meters. Then there’s the actual fun part, 50 kilometers of descending
before the Mortirolo. Short at only 12 kilometers, but the average gradient is brutal. There’s even a solid six
kilometers in the middle where the gradient averages over 12%. After that, it’s just
a casual 15 kilometers of gentle uphill to the finish. (dynamic music) This first section of the stage as it goes through the town is actually the neutralized zone, and
that’s, well, for safety and the fact there’ll
be loads of crowds here. But it means that we have
to ride an extra, well, a couple of kilometers
that don’t even count. – (laughs) Hold on, mate, we
are coming up to the start. – Yeah?
– You ready? Kilometer zero!
– What– – Let’s do it!
– Oh. (lively dance music) – Now I would say the difference
between us and the pros is that we don’t have a
peloton to show off behind. So we’re going to be
pushing the wind all day. You all right there, Ollie? – (laughs) We’ve only just started, and it’s already climbing
out of the gate. (laughs) (mellow dance music) (dramatic music) So one of the things about the Giro and being a pro in general is that you don’t get to pick the weather. It is what it is. In some ways, this is one of the things that’s nice about not being a pro in that if you were to
come and have a go at this, you can just pick a sunny
day, and if it was like today where it’s looking like
it’s going to tip it down, I mean, it’s starting to,
then you can just say, no, we’ll do it tomorrow. (laughs) Well, ah, mate. (laughs) – It’s also worth mentioning this is where the
domestiques will go back, get the capes from the team car and bring them back up to the leaders so the leaders can hold position and they don’t expend energy. – Generally–
– Do you want a cape, man? – (laughs) No, I’m all right, dude. All right in a minute. But generally speaking, the professionals are going to be praying that
when the Giro comes through here, it doesn’t rain, ’cause on
a killer stage like this, it just makes it exponentially harder if the weather’s terrible. (mellow electronic music) Even though this is a three
week race and this killer stage comes 2/3 of the way through that race, it’s not going to be about
conserving energy or taking it easy for most of the riders. Some of the guys will
be flogging themselves and going really hard,
attacking out of the block just to try and make the day’s breakaway for a chance of glory. Other riders will be
counterattacking that breakaway, and this attacking and
counterattacking could happen probably up until the
top of the second climb. For other riders, they’ll just
be going as hard as they can just to stay in the bunch. Sprinters, they can’t afford
to get dropped by the peloton because doing so will most likely mean they miss the time cut and
get eliminated from the race. (dramatic music) – On days like today, all
the peloton is thinking about is trying to stay warm
and get into the finish. No chat, no jokes, just silence. They’re like us, really. Just five hours to go, mate. (mellow electronic music) Just gone over the top of the first climb, but even for the guys at the back, there’ll be no respite. If the race is full gas on the front, there could easily be a split because there’s heavy
braking and big accelerating, especially in conditions like this. (moves into inspiring music) – We’re not even a third
of the way (laughs). (Hank laughs) (singers vocalizing) Don’t know about you, mate, but after coming down that wet descent, I am glad I’ve got this race. What a view. The scenery on this stage
is absolutely breathtaking, and we’re about 45
kilometers into the stage on the second categorized
climb, the Croce de Salven. And it’s about 1,107
meters high, I believe, and when we get to the top of this, we just descend into Edolo,
where we begin the long drag up the valley road towards
the fearsome Gavia, but, well, Hank’s got to
fix his puncture first before we can crack on. (mid-tempo dance music)
(singer vocalizing) – Whoo! (laughs) Wet or dry, the pros will
be smashing these descents, and the speeds they go up to, it’s pretty incredible, really. All right, do you want the
good news or the bad news? – Good news, mate. – Well, the good news is
we’re over the second climb. The bad news is the profile
shows a 54-kilometer drag all the way up to the Gavia. – It’s misleading, the profile, isn’t it? – Yeah, it is. – Do you know what, 65K’s
a big day out for me still, and like, quick maths, right? That means we’ve still got 160K to go. – 160K?
– We’ve been riding for like, what, best part
of three hours? (laughs) (Hank sighs) (dynamic electronic music) That’s not too good, the sign
says the Mortirolo’s closed, which means the snow hasn’t melted, but the Giro comes through
here in a week (laughs). – I hope they clear the snow. – Yeah, I hope they clear it by then, but it means we might not be
able to get over it today, as well, unfortunately, eh. – I guess we’ll go as far as we can. – Gutted, I mean, if we can’t
climb it, gutted. (laughs) – We’ll have to come back
when it’s a bit sunnier. (peaceful guitar music) – Just gone past the
sign for Ponte di Legno, which is nestled down there
at the foot of the Gavia, and that’s because once the riders go over the top of the Gavia, they loop back ’round over the Mortirolo, back up the valley and finish here, so little bit depressing
going past the finish knowing you’ve still got, like, 100 kilometers to go (laughs). So the pros might be trying
to make the time cut, but to be honest, I’m
just trying to complete it before it gets dark. (dramatic music) – So we’ve just been through
the sign at le Gavia. This is a 16-kilometer climb averaging 8% and maxing out at 16%. This is an utter beast of a climb. – It is, but it tops out
at about 2,700 meters, and the sign back there
said it’s currently shut. This doesn’t bode well for
us because the Mortirolo sign also said that was shut,
which means if they are, we might not be able to
complete our route today. But we’ll try and get as far as we can and see what we can do, but (laughs) yeah, it is a savage climb,
this, absolutely killer. The Gavia has been a
decisive feature of the Giro on several occasions. Some of you may remember Andy Hampsten taking the Maglia Rosa up this climb in atrocious weather
conditions, and more recently, in 2014, the race came over here and Nairo Quintana took
the Maglia Rosa that day, and it was also atrocious conditions. So (laughs) the fact that we can’t go all the way up the top, well, that’s just typical of
this climb, really. (gasps) It’s deceptively steep up here. There are a few sections later on, I know ’cause I’ve ridden it before, that it kind of falls
flat, sort of, two, 3%, and so that average
gradient is very misleading. This bit on here on my
Wahoo, I mean this is 10, sometimes ramping up to 12, and when you get into double
digits, it’s just hard, especially after 100-odd K (laughs). – It’s not easy.
– I’m feeling it, man. This is a killer stage,
and the other thing that makes the Gavia especially difficult is how high it is, because the altitude, you just can’t get the power out unless you’re Nairo Quintana. – Of which we’re not. (both laugh) Oh. (mellow electronic music) Oh, no, this isn’t a good sign. – No.
– My guess, this is the end of our road. – Yeah, well, the sign back there saying that the Gavia was
shut wasn’t lying (laughs). – No, definitely not. – I guess this means, well, if the Gavia’s shut and
the Mortirolo’s shut, unfortunately, we can’t
complete the recon. We can’t ride the full stage. – No, how long have we done? – We’ve done, well,
according to the Wahoo, 130 kilometers and 2,700
meters of climbing, so just over halfway (laughs). – And it’s been absolutely
brutal, hasn’t it? – Yeah.
– So I don’t think we would’ve finished it. – Well, I think we probably
would’ve finished it in the dark.
(Hank laughs) There’s no doubt in my mind
that this stage is savage. – Yeah.
– It is a ridiculously hard stage, and it’ll be an amazing spectacle
to watch on TV. (sighs) I’m quite relieved we don’t
have to do it today (laughs). – Yeah, it’s been really tough, and if you’ve enjoyed seeing us suffer, then make sure you give
this video a big thumbs up. And for more Giro content,
why don’t you click on Ollie? – I think we should go for a pizza now. I want to get warm (laughs), get pizza. – This has been a long day, hasn’t it? – And cold (laughs). (gentle piano music)

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