Eshnar said:STAGE 14: Castellania – Oropa 131 km
START TIME: 13.40 CEST
What to say about this stage. It's really depressing. To think that anybody would even just conceive the idea of honouring Coppi and Pantani with this kind of profile... Looks like even the RCS profile guy didn't really feel motivated with this stage, judging from the huge filter he used, which makes most of the stage look unnaturally smooth. However, perhaps the filter is due to the fact that, this stage being the shortest of the race, the profile without it would look even worse than it does now.
Anyway, starting from Castellania, birthplace of Fausto Coppi, the riders will go though a pretty long neutral zone that will bring them down the hill all the way to the flats they will race in for 120 km, until the town of Biella, where the road will finally go uphill. The final climb to the famous (for cycling fans) Santuario di Oropa (GPM1, 11.8 km at 6.2%) starts very gently, and gets much steeper in the second part.
Only the last 5 km are hard.
What to expect:
An uphill sprint. The stage is not selective enough for a mediocre climb like Oropa to allow meaningful attacks. I'll be very surprised otherwise.
Fausto Coppi was born in Castellania on September 15th, 1919. One of the most prominent Italian athletes in history, his body looked totally different than the usual athlete. In particular, his toracic cavity was amazingly large and disproportionate, making him look like a freak when he was off his bike. On it, however, it was a completely different story. He started his pro career in 1939, racking up good placements from the get go. In 1940 he is hired for the team Legnano, as a domestique of Bartali. He participates to his first Giro, and the misfortunes of Bartali, who crashes and goes out of gc contention very early on, allow him to act freely and win the Giro, the youngest ever winner in history at age 20. In 1942 he established the hour record, with 45,871 km, just before being called to duty in the army. He would get captured while in service in Tunisia, and will get back to Italy only in 1945. In 1946 he'll resume his pro career with the team Bianchi, and start his legendary rivalry with Bartali. He immediately triumphs in the first of his three Milano-Sanremo, attacking on the Turchino with other 4 riders and winning alone with 14 minutes over the second place. He loses the Giro against Bartali but wins the Lombardia for the first of his 5 times. In 1947 wins the Giro again, and after a troubled 1948, he will get back to full force in 1949, when he will win both Giro (triumphing in the most famous stage of all time, the Cuneo-Pinerolo) and Tour (coming back from a 37' deficit), both against Bartali. He will repeat the double in 1952, and in 1953 he will win his fifth and last Giro, as well as his only world championship. He will win his last Giro stage in 1955, losing the GC for only 13'' against Fiorenzo Magni. His career will go on for another few years with lesser wins and some injuries, leading him to decide that 1960 would be his last season. Sadly, things would go differently.
On December 1959 he went to race a criterium in current-day Burkina Faso with a handful of other famous riders, like Anquetil and Géminiani. After the criterium they went to a hunting session, and during the night camp both Coppi and Géminiani contracted a very serious form of malaria. The first symptoms occured to Géminiani (who went on a coma for days but survived) much earlier than Coppi, and when Coppi fell ill, on December 27th, the doctors in Italy didn't believe it could be the same desease Géminiani was cured for in France, but just a heavy flu. Coppi's condition however got worse very quickly, and he ultimately died in the hospital of Tortona on January 2nd, 1960, at age 40.