Giro d'Italia 2023 stage 13 preview - a crucial stage in the mountains
Stage 13 will be a decisive day in the Alps as the riders cross the border into Switzerland
Start location: Borgofranco d'Ivrea
Finish location: Crans-Montana
Start time: 11:00 CEST
Finish time (approx): 17:11 CEST
For the first and only time at this year’s Giro d’Italia, the riders will leave the boundaries of Italy during stage 13, crossing the border into Switzerland to take on some of the mighty summits of the Swiss Alps. Here they will be greeted by the welcome sensation of riding along the smoothly tarmacked roads that the country is renowned for, but this will serve to make the unforgiving terrain of the mountains only a little more bearable.
The last of the day’s mountains will take the riders to the finish at Crans Montana, a ski resort where former James Bond actor Roger Moore lived before his death in 2017. The town also hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1987, and is due to do so again in 2027 — who knows, maybe among the competitors will be a future Primož Roglič ready to replicate his transition from skis to bikes?
Updated stage 13 profile sourced on the Giro d'Italia website
On the morning of the stage, the Giro d'Italia organisation has announced that given the adverse weather conditions, especially on the Italian side, the Commission has to meet the athletes' requests by applying the Extreme Weather Protocol. This means that riders will roll out to the official start, but then get back into their team buses and drive to Le Chable, at the bottom of the Croix de Couer and complete the final 74.6km of the stage. The final part of the stage remains unchanged.
The Croix de Coeur ascends a hairpin-filled road to the summit of Verbier, which played a significant role at the 2009 Tour de France when Alberto Contador attacked to win the stage and take the yellow jersey, asserting himself as Astana’s strongest rider ahead of a disgruntled Lance Armstrong. After that, the riders will climb for another 7km to the never before used peak at Croix de Coeur, where the gradients between 9 and 10% are even steeper than those which preceded it.
Finally, after a descent and flat valley road, they will, arrive at the foot of Crans Montana, which, although has never been used at the Giro, will be familiar to past participants of the Tour de Romandie and Tour de Suisse — especially Bauke Mollema, who won a stage of the latter race that finished here in 2013. That time seven chasers finished in a group 11 seconds behind him, reflecting how, with an average gradient of 7.2% across 13.1km, it is the least severe of today’s climbs. But now with the shorter stage and fewer elevation metres, the peloton could ride the remaining climbs even more aggressively, meaning this could still be one of the decisive stages of the Giro.
So far, we haven't been treated to a real GC battle in the mountains. Instead, the breakaway has been taking the limelight – even at the summit of the Gran Sasso, where wildcard team Eolo-Kometa took all the glory from an unlikely breakaway. But as the peloton faces the Alps head-on, today could be the day.
The main battle will be between Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who are only two seconds apart. With little buffer between the rivals, it'll be a close call as to who will be wearing the pink jersey going into stage 14. Both riders are supported by strong teams and will closely mark each other on the brutal climbs.
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) sits fourth in the GC, 22 seconds behind Thomas, with previous maglia rosa wearer Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) close behind, trailing by 35 seconds. Almeida shouldn't be put in too much trouble by the day's final climb at this point in the race, but it'll be the first real test Leknessund's ability to hang-in with the big guns. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) is another rider in the mix on GC and could be one to watch as he continues to fly somewhat under the radar. The stage also suits his teammate Jack Haig, who is not far behind him in the general classification.
However, if today's stage follows in the footsteps of stage seven, it might once again be the breakaway that succeeds. Still leading in the blue jersey, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) is a strong contender for the stage. He finished sixth at the Gran Sasso, crossing the line with the GC leaders. The American team EF Education-EasyPost has had a successful Giro so far, with two stage wins in the bag, and this stage suits the team's pure climber Hugh Carthy.
Filippo Zana (Jayco-Alula), Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), and Ilan Van Wilder (Soudal - Quick-Step) could also be climbing well enough to give themselves a chance.
We think it’ll be a fight for the pink with Primož Roglič taking victory on the summit finish. The Slovenian is yet to don the maglia rosa and he’ll be looking to start making gains heading into the final week.