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2012 Giro d'Italia Stage 20: Joaquim Rodriguez Takes 17-Second Lead Into Penultimate Stage

The 2012 Giro d'Italia winds down this weekend, and the competition between Joaquim Rodriguez and Garmin's Ryder Hesjedal at the top of the general standings is tight -- Hesjedal trails by just 17 seconds.

Related: Giro d'Italia 2012 Results: Ryder Hesjedal Finishes 2nd On Stage 19, Cuts Delay To 17 Seconds

He'll try to make up some ground during Stage 20 on Saturday; the high mountain course (map), which spans 219 kilometers, will take the riders from Caldes/Val di Sole to Passo dello Stelvio. Like Stage 19, Stage 20 includes several big climbs, including one right up to the finish line.

So the climb of the Passo dello Stelvio begins in Bormio and from that point there’s 22.4 kilometres to go. The average is 6.9 percent, which seems pretty easy compared to some other climbs in recent days. But it must be said: this is the 'easy side' of the Stelvio.

The length of the climb will be the most important difficulty. Now and then there are some steeper parts with a peak of twelve percent halfway through, but every time they are followed by more even parts. The last three kilometres it should be possible to make a difference, because the average gradient rises to 8.7 percent.

For more on the 2012 Giro d'Italia, stick with SB Nation Denver and visit cycling blog Podium Cafe.

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