After a much needed rest day in Bergamo, we felt suitably recharged and ready for yet another Queen stage. Thankfully the torrential downpour the night before had passed and we were greeted by bright sunshine.
Today’s Queen stage beckoned from Rovetta so a short transfer was required. It cuts across the Alps and features a double pass over the legendary Stelvio, first along the Bormio side, and then taking a first ever climb up the Swiss side.
Initially Mick climbed slightly through some beautiful villages, the highlight was Lovere which hugs lake d’iseo. Mick then cut across the Val Camonica, the luscious greenery being enhanced by the sunlight.
Mick was making good progress but after 55 kilometres the gradient increased sometimes topping 16% upto the Mortirolo Pass which was last used in the 1990 race route.
The climb was taking its toll on Mick, however as always he battled way and finally cleared the top. Next was a narrow and quick descent down to Grosio.
The route then followed the Adda river with the occasional small climb upto Bormio
We finished in Bormio, the itinerary was to split stage 16 into 2 days because of its length and the amount of climbing required.
On reflection it was a great day, the only negative was the rather tricky descent from Mortirolo but as always Mick coped exceptionally and time for some rest before the prospect of the Stelvio tomorrow.
After a cold night in ski chalet dominated Bormio (population 4100). We were once again on the road early.
Immediately out of Bormio we hit the infamous Stelvio climb, the sun had now awoken and Mick was pushing hard. The draw of the Stelvio is obvious, however the amount of riders (especially in organised groups) was astonishing and slightly off-putting.
The zigzagging hairpins is synonymous with the climb and Mick once again made good progress, he was passing groups with ease and joking as he did so.
As we approached the summit of the Cima Coppi, the snow was over six foot deep in places. We later discovered the the pass had been open for the last couple of days.
The Passo dello Stelvio, ten time Cima Coppi since the category was introduced, is the highest peak of this year’s Giro and the winner of the stage will be awarded the Trofeo Torriani.
Mick’s descent into Switzerland was at times treacherous and cold so he took it steady, his fingers now numb before heading up the Umbrailpass (Giogo di Santa Maria).
The ascent totals 13.5km, at a steady 9% gradient, with peaks topping out at 12%, once again showed great resolve and beat the ascent before 20km of speedy downhill into Bormio.