The Climbs of the Giro d’Italia 2022

Laghi di Cancano – Italy – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – Joao Almeida (POR – Deceuninck – Quick Step) pictured during 103rd Giro dÕItalia (2.UWT) stage 18 from Pinzolo > Laghi di Cancano (207KM) – photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2020

The Giro d’Italia is famous for legendary mountains like the Stelvio, Mortirolo or the Zoncolan, but which climbs await the riders in the 2022 edition of the race? Below we will take a closer look at the main climbing obstacles of this year’s route.

Mt Etna Stage 4

A stage finishing on Mount Etna in week one of the Giro has become a recent tradition of the race. Just like in 2011, 2017, 2018 and 2020, this year’s race will face the volcanic mountain before the first rest day. The Etna isn’t the steepest or most decisive climb, but its incredible length of 22.7km at an average of 6% certainly make it challenging. The riders will also face the climb from a new side this year, starting from Biancavilla and ending at the Rifugio Sapienza at 1900 meters of altitude. The stage could see a change in the lead of the overall classification, but a significant gap between the main contenders is unlikely. This stems from the fact, that the drafting benefit on these gradients is still very high and the hardest section of the climb, a kilometre at 9.9%, comes with nearly eight kilometers left. The likeliest scenario is a break victory (see Polanc in 2017), with a secondary GC threat slipping away for a few seconds in the last kilometre, (see Zakarin in 2017).

Mt Etna 2017, Polanc wins and Zakarin attacks

Alternatively, a team like Movistar may control for a small group sprint, playing into the cards of riders like Valverde and Almeida. With all this in mind, a relatively slow tempo, that reduces the group to the main contenders, but does not challenge them too hard can be expected, particularly if there is a headwind on the climb.

W/kg prediction: 5.70w/kg* – 54’31min – 24.98km/h – 1499 VAM
* – est. using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and weight.

Monte Scuro, Stage 7

Stage 7 of the Giro is one of the dangerous medium mountain stages that does not have the most difficult high mountain climbs, but can still lead to significant gaps in the general classification if the big contenders attack – especially when you take a closer look at the Monte Scuro – a nasty 6.1km climb at 9.51%. This stage has a similar stage design to stage 20 of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana, when INEOS and Bahrain set up a raid and that distanced Lopez, boosting Jack Haig onto the overall podium.

INEOS set up Yates and Mader to counter, dropping Lopez

That much tension is unlikely on this stage, as it comes quite early in the race rather than that final throw of the dice in Stage 20 of the Vuelta, but some teams will certainly try something here. If the stage is ridden hard and especially if it rains, a lot of time can be lost if a GC contender has a bad day or if a rider is exposed on the descents. Landa and Carapaz look like the main contenders to set something up on this stage with their strong teams, while riders who struggle on messy stages and descents, such as Almeida will just try to survive. This climb is a new addition to the race as well and the w/kg will really depend on the situation on the road. If the race explodes here they can reach up to 6.3w/kg but with no rider willing to attack, they could ride below 6w/kg in the end.

W/kg prediction: 6.30w/kg* – 19’23min – 18.87km/h – 1795 VAM
* – est. using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and weight

Blockhaus, Stage 9

Blockhaus, Stage 9

Blockhaus is back in the Giro d’Italia after Nairo Quintana’s incredible win in 2017. It is the hardest finishing climb of the entire race: 12.8km at 8.69%. Before this stage, many riders will still be in GC contention, but after the Blockhaus climb, the number of serious GC contenders should be reduced to around five. Overall, the climb is quite exposed, so the wind could play a part in how the stage plays out. Last year’s Giro featured a very similar climb, Sega di Ala, where Joao Almeida dropped the rest of the contenders, so the Portugese star should back himself on this finish in his first Grand Tour for UAE Emirates.

Almeida drops Bernal and Yates on Sega di Ala, Giro 2021

Due to his very limited climbing support, he will have to rely on Bahrain or Ineos to make the stage hard for Landa or Carapaz who also thrive on these climbs. The Passo Lanciano is featured before the Blockhaus climb, which should add extra fatigue before this mountain-top finish. With riders still fresh in the first week and wanting to make early differences in the general classification, a high climbing effort should be expected here and matching the climbing time, if not the w/kg, of Nairo Quintana in 2017 (38’36mins – 6.26w/kg) is actually possible, as it was achieved into a strong headwind.

W/kg prediction: 6,15w/kg* – 38’36min – 19,89km/h – 1729 VAM
* – est. using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and weight.

Mortirolo, Stage 16

The Mortirolo – one of the famous climbs of the Giro d’Italia – synonymous with the race deciding ascents of Marco Pantani, Ivan Gotti or Alberto Contador, is in the route again this year. The surprising part however is that the riders will tackle the climb from Monno and not the traditional side that starts in Mazzo di Valtellina. This means we will not see the brutal 11.8km at 10.9%. Instead the climb will be 12.7km at ‘only’ 7.51% and with it topping at still over 70km to go it should not have a massive impact on the race, except some added fatigue before the final challenge of the day. This leads me to believe the riders won’t climb at more than 5.4w/kg unless once again INEOS or Bahrain want to set up a long range attack for Landa or Carapaz.

W/kg prediction: 5.40w/kg* – 37’44min – 20.19km/h – 1517 VAM
* – est. using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and weight.

Valico di Santa Cristina, Stage 16

The climb to Santa Cristina is one of the classic 30min+ climbs (12.6km at 8,33%), that are found in every Grand Tour. Interestingly enough, this climb is not used as an uphill finish, so the following 6km descent with a few technical sections could hurt the poor descenders. The climb starts off relatively easy and then gradually gets steeper with the last 6.8km being at an average of 9.69% and multiple kilometres hitting over 11%, perfect for an on-form Simon Yates.

13/03/2022 – Paris Nice – Etape 8 – Nice / Nice (115,6km) – Simon YATES (TEAM BIKEEXCHANGE-JAYCO)

With these super-steep gradients and a very hard stage including the Mortirolo before, the pure climbers will have a big advantage here and can create huge gaps. The full climb is new in the Giro, but the steep last 6.8km have been climbed a few times before. The climbing record unsurprisingly belongs to Marco Pantani (22’24min) from his raid in the 1994 Giro d’Italia, when he put 3mins into his closest competitor. The performances this year will not be quite as nuclear, but we can expect around 6.2w/kg, with Simon Yates able to go even faster on a good day.

W/kg prediction: 6.20w/kg* – 36’26min – 20.75km/h – 1726 VAM
* – est. using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and weight.

Monterovere, Stage 17

The ascent to Monterovere is another of the many new climbs in this year’s Giro d’Italia, a clear trend that has been noticeable in the route. The climb falls into the same length-category as the Santa Cristina the day before and also features 8km of rolling terrain and descents to the finish, which makes both stages very comparable. With 8km at 9.69%, the gradients are even more brutal than the day before, especially when you look at the 3km section at 11.2% near the top. The scenario should be similar to the day before, but even if a rider can get a gap on the climb, they will need an engine to stay away on the following 8 kilometres of rolling terrain. This could hurt a rider like Mikel Landa, but help a rider like Almeida who has a great TT to limit losses or get a bigger gap.

Richard Carapaz (ECU – INEOS Grenadiers) pictured during the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2022 – 101st Edition – stage 4 between La Seu d’Urgell and Bo’ TaŸll (166.7KM) – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2022

Another thing to consider is the group two syndrome that has been seen frequently in the past year. This was also visible on stage 14 of the 2019 Giro d’Italia, when Carapaz gained over a minute on a 9km uphill false-flat over a big chasing group in the stage to Courmayeur, as the cooperation between Nibali and Roglic was non-existent. A similar situation could occur here. If a team can pace the early slopes, the w/kg could be quite high, but the race is now nearing the end of the third week with a tough stage beforehand, so the riders who can recover should shine on this stage.

W/kg prediction: 6.25w/kg* – 26’03min – 18.42km/h – 1785 VAM
* – est. using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and weight.

Passo Pordoi, Stage 20

Stage 20 of this year’s Giro is reminiscent of Stage 20 of last year. It once again features three climbs that go above 2000m. With such a hard stage before the final time-trial, the parcours offers ample opportunity to riders who need to embark on a long-range move to turn the GC upside down. Such a move could start on the descent before the penultimate climb, like the Bardet and Caruso move of last year, or on this climb – the Passo Pordoi (11.3km at 6,81%). The likeliest contenders for such a move are riders with a weak ITT like Landa or Carapaz. The different possible scenarios mean that it’s hard to predict the w/kg, but a performance of around 5.7w/kg seems likely. The climbing record of Gianni Bugno from 1996 (28’26min – 6.17w/kg), who was the fastest of the chase behind Zaina, who had launched on an earlier climb, should be safe considering how early the climb is in the stage.

Hoogvliet – Netherlands – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – Gianni Bugno (Techogym) – Giro D’Italie 1996 – colorslidescan – archives – archief – stock – photo Cor Vos © 2020

W/kg prediction: 5.70w/kg* – 29’48min – 22.75km/h – 1550 VAM
* – est. using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and weight.

Marmolada Passo Fedaia, Stage 20

The ascent to the Marmolada – Passo Fedaia is the final uphill finish of the Giro d’Italia and the only one uphill finish above 2000 meters of altitude. With such a demanding final climb after a hard stage, this has to be considered the Queen stage of the race. It is a classic stage design and certainly a worthy final road stage of the Giro d’Italia. The Marmolada starts off with a few kilometres at shallower gradients, before hitting the serious part of the ascent: 5.3km at 11,11%. The drafting benefit is minimal here and the gaps will be decided based on the legs of the riders. The high altitude will benefit the South American GC riders, Lopez and Carapaz, however the altitude is not extreme, as we ‘only’ reach 2052m and not the extreme heights of climbs like the Stelvio (2746m) or the Agnello (2733m).

Rohan Dennis on the Stelvio during 103rd Giro d’talia (2.UWT) – photo Dario Belingheri/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2020

With the hard stage before, more than 6.3w/kg for the best riders would be very surprising. Miguel Angel Lopez has won the Queen stage of the 2020 Tour de France and 2021 Vuelta, both from the GC group in the third week of each race and is a big contender for this stage. The nuclear climbing record of Enrico Zaina is safe, no matter what. He launched his race deciding attack on this climb, with 6.73w/kg for 18’27min, before finishing the move on the Passo Pordoi (as mentioned above).

W/kg prediction: 6.30w/kg* – 19’17min – 16.48km/h – 1833 VAM
* – est. using standard values for wind, draft, temperature and weight.

The lower time trial kilometres and the finish in Verona rather than Milan are not the only things different in this year’s edition of the Giro. As you have seen above, there are only three pure mountain top finishes in the Giro d’Italia 2022 (Etna, Blockhaus and Fedaia), but no shortage of hard climbs pieced together in various stages. The high altitude climbs to 2700m like the Stelvio have been replaced with new climbs with irregular gradients, such as the ascent to Monterovere. With a startlist featuring many of the world’s top featherweight climbers, all of whom have their flaws and inconsistencies, it is set to be an exciting and unpredictable edition in the mountains, whilst we watch on with our stopwatch and calculator eagerly poised.

Make sure to check in here during the race for watts estimations and articles on the various climbing performances in the next three weeks.

Gabriel Stróżyk (@NaichacaCycling)

  1. This is the single best piece of cycling commentary I’ve ever read. No bs gut feel stuff. You actually took the time to dig in. Thank you.

    An interesting follow up would be to overlay the power curves you have on each rider to guess winners!

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