Giro d’Italia avoids Stelvio Pass in stage 16 due to avalanche risk

grey asphalt road on mountain stelvio

In an expected, unfortunate change to this year’s Giro d’Italia, the iconic Passo dello Stelvio has been omitted from stage 16 owing to significant avalanche risks. This decision comes after careful monitoring of the recent heavy snowfall and rising temperatures which heightened the dangers on this well-known Alpine ascent.

RCS Sport, the race organiser, has announced that the route will now divert through Switzerland, incorporating the Umbrail Pass, standing at 2,489 metres. The re-routed stage will circumvent the traditional climb to the snow-laden summit of Stelvio, now taking a loop around it instead.

According to the officials, this adjustment aims to ensure the safety of the Carovana Rosa—the name given to the ensemble of riders and race personnel. “The recent snowfalls on the Passo dello Stelvio and the subsequent rise in temperatures are increasing the risks of avalanches,” a spokesperson from RCS Sport explained.

The alteration to the route means that the Umbrail Pass will now feature as the stage’s opening climb and will also take over the honour of being this year’s Cima Coppi—the highest point in the Giro d’Italia.

Local authorities and the head of the local avalanche commission had been in discussions about the viability of crossing the Stelvio in the weeks leading up to the race. These talks followed reports from local media that revealed the precarious conditions on the pass.

The length of the stage now extends to 206 km, with the race passing through the scenic valleys of Adige and Eisack before reaching the daunting 16.7 km ascent of the Umbrail Pass, which boasts an average gradient of 7.1%.

Stage 16 will conclude with a challenging summit finish in Santa Cristina Val Gardena, featuring a steep final 3 km climb that promises a dramatic end to the day’s racing. The finale will test the riders with gradients reaching 16%, sure to draw a spectacular showdown among the contenders.