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In 2004, Damiano Cunego won a mountainous stage by over one minute that finished with a descent into Falzes and took the Pink Jersey. The run up to the finish in Falzes is very different this year.
May 21 update: After Monday's rest day, we'll ease back into racing with a flat/slight uphill stage that ends in an uphill finish.
Stage 16 starts from Limone sul Garda (nice photos), named for its famous cultivation of lemons along Lago di Garda, a stunning lake in northern Italy. Up until 1940, this town was only reachable by boat or a narrow road through the mountains. Tune in early to the video coverage for highlights from the start because it will be a picturesque rollout along the lake (weather permitting).
After heading north along the west shores of Lake Garda, we'll continue to head northeast following the Adige and Isarco rivers and valleys where the only possible obstacles correspond to the crossing of the main townships (Trento, Bolzano/Bozen. Bressanone/Brixen). This is the area of the mountainous stage race Giro del Trentino which Domenico Pozzovivo won last month. However, this stage avoids all the serious climbs along either side of the route. In fact, in the latter half of this stage we'll partially round the perimeter of the Dolomites, the setting for the third mountain stage, stage 17 on Wednesday.
The second half of this stage enters the German speaking part of Italy and by the finish in Falzes/Pfalzen, in the South Tyrol, we'll be near the border with Austria.
At 5 km to go, the road finally kicks up. For 2.5 km on a road that becomes narrow, stone-paved and very twisty, the average grade is 9% with a maximum 12%. The last 2 km is on a country road which descends slightly to the finish.
Falzes has hosted two Giro finishes in the past with the last visit being 2004, when Damiano Cunego won a mountainous stage by over one minute (report) and gained the Pink Jersey. Cunego then went on to win his first and only Giro d'Italia.
Falzes is just a few kms from the Kronplatz-Plan de Corones holiday resorts, one of the largest skiing facilities complex in the Upper Adige. In 2010, there was an incredibly steep individual time-trial up Plan de Corones (big photos). — Steve