Cycling spectacle at the Plan de Corones
Once again, on 25 May, there will be a special type of sporting event at the Plan de Corones (ITA). At the place where winter skiers throng, cyclists will have to overcome the forest road up to the summit. After only a year's break, the Giro d'Italia is returning to the Plan de Corones.
The 16th leg will be held as an uphill time trial. The start will take place in San Vigilio di Marebbe at 1,200 meters and the finish will be at the highest point of the ski resort, at 2,275 meters. Over a route of 12.9 kilometers, the cyclists will have to ascend more than 1,000 meters.
The large quantity of snow that was still lying on the slopes at the end of the season gave the organizers a major challenge. On 18 April, the ski season finished on the Olang side of the Plan de Corones. On 20 April, the clearing works had already begun on the forest road. On 29 April, the road was then passable and the favorites, Cadel Evans and Gilberto Simoni, took advantage of the opportunity for the first test ride. The precipitation of the past weeks brought several centimeters of new snow again, but the organizers are optimistic that the route will be open by 25 May.
The last five kilometers, from the Furkel Pass to the Plan de Corones, are particularly tough. This section is not paved, but rather, is covered with a special coating made of stabilized scree. "On 11 May, we started to prepare the forest road. The steepest points have been processed with a concrete mixture, in order to give the road some more stability," reports Press Officer, Diego Clara. The professionals are therefore moving on unfamiliar terrain. The narrow tyres of the racing bikes are being put to a tough test. The extreme steepness of the terrain, with an average gradient of 7.9% does the rest.
The leg will be a spectacle which will attract thousands of cycle sport fans to the Plan de Corones again this year. In any case, one thing is already certain: Whoever intends to be right at the top at the end of the Giro, needs to conquer the Plan de Corones first.
Photograph: A great deal of snow needed to be removed on this forest road.