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May 24 post: Stage 17 was much harder before it was altered for safety reasons at the end of March. The 230 km trek across the entire Trento province, starting in Feltre, is classified a mountain stage although it has only two climbs (a cat 2 and a cat 3) on the way to the finish in Tirano to the west. Both climbs, Passo del Tonale and Aprica have been usually frequently by the Giro. Turning north from Passo del Tonale would take you up the infamous Passo di Gavia and Aprica was the finish for one of the most entertaining stages at last year's Giro, stage 19, won by Michele Scarponi.

The 8 km run into in the small ancient medieval town, Tirano, after the technical Aprica descent is flat and wide. In 2008, Emanuele Sella soloed into Tirano for the win, one of three mountain stages he made a mockery of before testing positive for CERA several months later and confessing. It's interesting to note that he denied legendary Giro d'Italia champion Gilberto Simoni his final stage win. Gilberto Simoni had rolled off the peloton over the Aprica in pursuit of Sella but was unsuccessful in his attempt to bridge up. He finished a minute back on his own.

The last 35 km of the 2008 stage looks indentical to this year's finish; however, the rest of the 2008 stage leading up to the finish was much more difficult. Nonetheless, a break will probably succeed in Tirano like it did in 2008 since we are in the last week and there are few sprinters left in the race. If the race comes back together on the Aprica climb then look for Vincenzo Nibali to attempt a solo win on the technical descent. — Steve

 Stage 17 Flyover (00:46) —
 3D Google Earth Tour of Passo del Tonalecyclingthealps
 3D Google Earth Tour of Passo del Apricacyclingthealps