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Avalanche threat causes Giro organizers to cut Gavia from queen stage

Cima Coppi is now Stage 20's Passo Manghen

There was a week’s speculation that Giro d’Italia organizers might reroute Tuesday’s queen stage due to the risk of snow and ice on the famed Gavia climb, and on Saturday RCS Sport, worried about the threat of avalanches, officially change the course, replacing the 16.5 km, 7.9 percent Gavia with the Cevo and Aprica climbs.

The original route of Stage 16.

Although crews have been doggedly working to clear the snow, there are stalactites of ice reported in tunnels and the forecast called for snow that would make the descent treacherous.

There are still heaps of snow on the upper reaches of the Gavia.

Although Tuesday has the same start and finish, it is 34 km shorter than the original route. The riders still face the Mortirolo (12.1 km at 10.8 percent) before a final long drag to the finish in Ponte di Legno.

The Gavia was supposed to be the Cima Coppi, the highest point of the race where the KOM points are doubled, but that will now be will be Passo Manghen on stage 20.

The Gavia was last used in the Giro on Stage 16 in 2014, with Robinson Chalapud the first to the top and Nairo Quintana claiming the day’s victory. In 1988, riders climbed it in a June snowstorm on the way to Bormio, with American Andy Hampsten famously taking over the race lead that day before going on to win the title.