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Photo essay: On the Mortirolo… savage climbing, suffering & helping hands

Chosen by the tifosi and chosen by Phil Gale too the iconic climb delivers some memorable pictures

The result of this year's Giro d'Italia came down to two crucial stages one in the mountains and one in the streets of Milan this weekend - Phil Gale and his camera were at both to capture a gallery of stunning pictures of the action to give you a real flavour of the action.

First up is Saturday's queen stage of the race featuring climbs nominated by the race fans on Twitter and Facebook - the stage, possibly the toughest in Giro history culminated with a climb of the Stelvio and the highest finish the race has ever seen (check out Dan Lloyd's video preview for a flavour of what lay in store on the Stelvio). Before the Stelvio though came the super steep Mortirolo 56Km from the finish and the point where Thomas de Gendt launched the decisive move of the day to ride to the stage win and on to the podium. Indeed after the Belgian's heroics in the mountains for many people he became the most credible challenger to Ryder Hesjedal for the overall win.

The tifosi chose the Mortirolo and as Phil's pictures show they were out in force on the mountain where in places the gradient is as steep as 23 per cent to lend support and in many cases a helping hand to riders and even team cars struggling in the fight against gravity. As you can also see from the shots the road on the Mortitorolo isn't a super-smooth strip of tarmac snaking up the mountain - for much of it's length it is little more than a singletrack lane of rough concrete slabs regularly bisected with drainage channels…

Oliver Zaugg leads the way

The tifosi were out in force

Everyone had to focus

A little assistance on the steepest section

…even the cars needed a little push

Gasparotto digs deep

De Gendt looks strong

Ryder Hesjedal digs deep over the 23 percent gradient

Cav - certainly not his terrain but looking good

Chewing on his tongue to get to the top

Making the most of the descents… it was uphill all the way for the last 30km

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