Sh*t is about to get real.
Weather expected to be sunny and warm.Eshnar said:STAGE 13: Palmanova – Cividale del Friuli 170 km
Stage start: 12.30 CET, 20 May
The Giro hits the Alps with an extremely hard low mountain stage. Starting from the pretty citadel of Palmanova (see picture at the bottom), the riders will head almost directly to the finishing town of Cividale, where they'll have to get back twice, later in the day. After little less than 50 km of flat roads, the peloton will hit the first GPM (arguably the hardest) of the day, the GPM1 of Montemaggiore (8.3 km at 9.3%), which is just part of the mighty Matajur. Luckily for the riders, they will not have to climb all of it (since there would be no way to descend), instead they will tackle the first of a series of narrow and twisty descents that might very well be the key factor of this stage. After this first descent comes the little climb of the Passo di San Martino (uncategorized, 2.5 km at 7.6%), and then another descent, shorter but steeper than the first one... a descent that is even mentioned in the official website as “challenging”, so go figure.
Whoever is still upright will then start climbing again, towards the GPM2 Crai(8.8 km at 6.3%), which features a very steep first half and it flattens out all the way to the top. This climb is followed by roughly 10 km of descending false flat, and then by a short proper descent that will bring the peloton to almost sea level.
Here starts the weakest section of the stage, where the peloton will make the second of the three passages in Cividale and move to north-west, for a total of around 30 flat km, all the way to the intermediate sprint in the town of Attimis, where the final part of the stage begins. The GPM1 Cima Porzus (8.7 km at 8.2%) is the key point of this stage, with its last 7 km at 9% that are very well suited to be the launching pad for a GC attack. The top of the climb is at 31.5 km from the finishing line, a challenging but not unreasonable distance. The following descent, technical just like all the others here, measures 11 km and connects seamlessly with the final climb of the day, the GPM2 Valle(6.2 km at 7.8%). This last climb is also hard enough to favor GC attacks, if necessary. At the top there will be only 14 km to go, roughly 6.5 km of descent and 7.5 km of flat and easy roads.
With 2700m of altitude gain, 2 GPM1 and 2 GPM2, this is definitely the hillier stage of the Giro at this point. It's quite interesting to note that all these climbs are new to the Giro.
Montemaggiore (Matajur) GPM1
The average gradient of this climb is lowered by its reasonable initial ramps, that average 6.6% for 2.5 km. However, the road then kicks up to an average of 10.5% (pretty constant) over the remaining 6 km. As indicated within brackets, this road is the first part of a bigger climb, the Matajur, a one-way climb that tops 4 km further up the road, with a gradient slightly lower than 10%. As a whole it is a heck of a climb, comparable to the Mortirolo. This is the first time the Giro even gets near it.
This climb starts with a very steep ramp of 4 km at 9.7% and then suddenly becomes a false flat, measuring 4.8 km at only 3.6%
Cima Porzus GPM1
Just like Montemaggiore, this climb features an easy first section that lowers its statistics. However, its 7 km at 9% are quite easily noticeable at a glance. Here the gradient is not constant, as there is an easier section at 7-8% about two thirds up the climb, and then a very steep section straight after it. The latter is probably the best spot to launch an attack.
Guess what, this climb also has an easy first ramp. The serious part of this climb measures a pretty decent 5 km at 8.5%, short enough to not be scary, but steep enough to be selective.
What to expect:
The first all-out GC battle. Of course, being the first of three consecutive days in the mountains, this stage might be disregarded by the riders, but it would be really stupid as it provides plenty of terrain to use to attack. A GC rider willing to attack will be free to do so pretty much anywhere from 40 km to go, climbing, descending or even on the flat before the finish. Worst case scenario, I cannot expect more than 5-6 riders in the GC group in Cividale.