Giro 101: by bike and cable car to the Matterhorn
That final parade through Rome has to be earned. With sweat, exhaustion and the 4,000-metre elevation change that precedes Valtournenche and the legendary Matterhorn. In the 217-kilometre penultimate Alpine stage of the Giro, the riders start from Susa, the Gateway to Italy, in the shadow of Enel Green Power’s historic Venaus hydroelectric power station, a clean energy factory that recently celebrated a half-century of service, before embarking on a climb right through the heart of Valle d’Aosta. “Watch out for those climbs,” warns sports journalist Paolo Viberti, “but the descents are even more treacherous as they are always wet and slippery.” Things start to get serious in the Valley: first comes the unprecedented Col Tsecore, then the Colle Saint Pantaleon (where Ivan Gotti started the break in 1997 that saw him win his first Giro d'Italia), and then the climb to Cervinia that takes the cyclists within a hair’s breadth of a little known village of Chamois which, at an altitude of 1,815 metres, is also the only town in Italy that can be reached solely by cable car or on foot, making it a model of green, sustainable living.