Preview from Eshnar:
Eshnar said:STAGE 4: Cefalù – Etna (Rif. Sapienza) 181 km
START TIME: 12.00 CEST
The race moves to the other major Italian island after a rest day, and goes for the hardest early MTF stage of recent times. From Cefalù, on the north coast, the peloton will stroll by the sea for 54 kms, before turning right and climbing a pretty good warm-up climb. Portella Femmina Morta (GPM2, 32.8km at 4.5%) is just a (very) long, regular drag that will bring the riders in the inner part of the island. From there, a fast descent, with a few tricky sections, will lead to a small uncategorized climb with the intermediate sprint of Bronte. After that, the riders will head towards the highest (3300m+ a.s.l.) volcano in Europe, one of the most active in the world. Mount Etna (GPM1, 17.9km at 6.6%) has been climbed three times in the Giro (1967, 1989 and 2011), all of them as MTF to Rifugio Sapienza (~1900m). The road they will climb this time is different than last time though, featuring shorter but steeper and irregular slopes. It is also preceded by a small climb of 6.8km at 5.5% to get to Nicolosi, where the final climb officially starts.
Portella di Femmina Morta GPM2
Extremely long and regular climb. Great for warming up.
Quite an irregular climb, that averages around 7% but hides 9-10% km alternated with short false flats here and there. Not to be underestimated.
What to expect:
This is an extremely serious MTF for just a stage 4. I expect a solo winner and decent gaps.
If the stage can be raced, that is. The volcano might decide to mess with it. Fingers crossed.