Eshnar said:STAGE 19: S.Candido/Innichen – Piancavallo 191 km
START TIME: 12.00 CEST
The last MTF of the race. From Innichen, in Südtirol, the peloton will head south-east towards the Friuli region. The first climb comes immediately: Passo Monte Croce Comelico (GPM3, 7.9 km at 4.3%) will be useful to define the daily breakaway, even though it won't even serve as a proper warm-up for the peloton. A long and easy descent down the valley will bring the riders to the uncategorized climb of Cima Sappada, which is mostly a false flat besides one ramp of roughly 2.5 km at 6% just before the intermediate sprint of Sappada. The top of the climb leads to a short descent and a long descending false flat, that will bring to the only real climb of the day besides the last one. Sella Chianzutan (GPM2, 11.7 km at 5.6%) is a good climb, whose average gradient is lowered by a short descending section in the first part. Unfortunately, after a pretty technical descent, there are 60 km mostly flat on wide and exposed roads, which kills any chance of attacks on the previous climb. At 15.5 km to go the final climb finally begins: Piancavallo (GPM1, 15.4 km at 7.3%) is a really hard climb, which should provide good racing as its hardest gradients are in the first half. The finale is pretty easy, with only a 2 km ramp at a steady 7% in the last 5 km. In particular, the last 1.5 km are basically flat. The selection has to be made before...
Passo Monte Croce Comelico GPM3
A very gentle climb. Nothing much to add.
Sella Chianzutan GPM2
The first half of this climb is very irregular, ending with a descending section, but then the second half is much more regular, with ramps in the range of 5-8%
Used only twice in the Giro. The first was in 1998 as a MTF, the second was in 2011, as the first climb of the mythical stage to Rifugio Gardeccia. The first 6 km are the hardest, with an average of 9.4%.
What to expect:
Nothing more than attacks on the last climb I'm afraid. Luckily Piancavallo has its steeper section at the beginning, so those attacks will probably come out earlier than the last 3 kms. The stage win will probably go to the breakaway, unless gc teams go berserk on the previous climb.
Marco Pantani, born in the town of Cesenatico in 1970, is one of the most prominent figures in the modern age of Italian cycling. Considered one of the best pure climbers ever, he had a troubled career, at first because of his frequent crashes and injuries, and later because of even worse stuff. His endeavours and his charisma on the bike made him a huge media phenomenon in Italy, and made cycling as popular as football again for the first time since Coppi and Bartali's years. His breakthrough was the Giro 1994, on his second season as a pro, that he started as a domestique for his leader Chiappucci. He got his first stage win on stage 14, in Merano, after attacking from the peloton on Passo Monte Giovo and be let go by the favourites.
The following day he made his first and probably greatest feat. On the queen stage from Merano to Aprica, widely considered today as one of the greatest stages of all time, he attacked the leader, Berzin, on the Passo del Mortirolo, at over 50 km to go, followed only by Indurain and Cacaito Rodriguez. On the last climb of the day, Passo S.Cristina, Pantani dropped both and went to win solo with almost 3' on the second (Chiappucci) and over 4' on Berzin who kept the jersey, with Pantani reaching the second place in GC. On the stage to Les Deux Alpes, Pantani attacked on the Colle dell'Agnello at over 100 km to go, blowing up the race and causing the other favourites to chase him but, being left alone on a windy valley, he had to surrender to the chasers. He finished that Giro in second place. The same year he participated to his first Tour, getting on the final podium as third, and winning the white jersey.
At the end of 1995 he suffered a huge crash during Milano-Torino, getting run over by an SUV who was driving on the closed road of the race. He basically lost the whole 1996, but he got back in a good shape in 1997. At the Tour of that year he finished 3rd, and established the all-time record of the Alpe d'Huez.
In 1998 he finally had a year without misfortunes. He won the first big MTF of the Giro in Piancavallo, and finally got the pink jersey by attacking on Passo Fedaia on the way to Selva di Valgardena. He then won in Montecampione to cement his overall win. The same year, he won the Tour by attacking on the Col du Galibier, on the way to Les Deux Alpes, accomplishing the last double in history.
In 1999 he started in full force, winning the Giro stages to Oropa and Madonna di Campiglio while looking unstoppable. On the morning of the queen stage, from Madonna di Campiglio to Aprica, where he was due to climb the Mortirolo and S.Cristina again, for the first time since his breakthrough in 1994, he was suspended for 15 days due to a 52% level of hematocrit. Having previously become a huge personality for the Italian media, this incident was blown out of proportion, and he fell into depression. In 2000 he participated to the Giro by riding into shape day by day, and he was ultimately decisive (with his pulling on the Izoard) for his teammate Garzelli to win the Giro. At the Tour of the same year Pantani started badly, losing a lot of time in Hautacam, but on the stage to Mont Ventoux he resurrected, winning the stage over Armstrong. Pantani got angry at the american (since he later claimed that he gifted that win), and kept attacking him during the whole Tour, dropping him in Courchevel, where he got his second win, and arriving to the point of attacking on the stage to Morzine at 100+ to go. The attack failed, and Pantani dropped out of the Tour that evening, causing the wrath of ASO, that would never invite his team again.
As Pantani's depression got worse and worse, he never got to his former levels in 2001 and 2002. At the Giro 2003 he seemed on the way to get back, producing pretty good results for the first time since 2000, but disappeared again after it. He was found dead for cocaine overdose in a hotel room in Rimini on February 14th, 2004.