Preview from Eshnar:
Eshnar said:STAGE 9: Montenero di Bisaccia – Blockhaus 149 km
START TIME: 13.00 CEST
The second weekend find its peak (literally) with the hardest MTF of the race. The first half of this short but demanding stage are very easy, along the Adriatic coast. After reaching the town of Francavilla al Mare, however, the peloton will head towards the highest mountain range of the Appennines. There are no categorized climbs before the MTF, but a few little bumps will provide a proper warmup. First, the climb to the intermediate sprint in Chieti (~5km at 5%, very different from the usual steep wall in the recent editions of Tirreno-Adriatico), and then the long and gentle drag to Lettomanoppello will bring the riders to the town of Scafa, where the mighty Blockhaus (aka Maielletta), the hardest climb in the Appennines, starts. The first 10 km at 4% leading to the town of Roccamorice are just a teaser though, as the climb officially starts just there. The Blockhaus (GPM1, 13 km at 8.4%), hasn't been climbed from this side since the '70s, its hardest side, that has been a race designer's wet dream since a long time. All the MTFs on it were climbed from the easiest of all its sides, the one from Pretoro, but the Blockhaus has seen champions of the magnitude of Merckx, Fuente and Argentin. This year they won't go to the top, as they will finish at the Rifugio Mammarosa, like they did the last time they went to this mountain, in 2009 (the century celebration edition). Even without the 6 km at 7% that lead to the very top of this monster, the riders won't really have it easy, since the main section of the climb features almost 10km at 9.4% average.
A monstrous climb, without crazy gradients but always at 9-10% after the first 3.5 km. There is a little descent at 0.5 km to the end, around 100-200m long.
What to expect:
Carnage on the last climb, a clear winner and half the forum claiming the Giro is over and complaining about such a hard finish on stage 9.
It was the Giro 1967, stage 12. From Caserta to Blockhaus, over a hilly terrain that ended with a new long and hard climb. The Spaniard José Pérez Francés was the pink jersey that day, a long, hard day on the saddle, which the favourites rode the modern way... all together until the last kms of the Blockhaus. At two kms to go, Italo Zilioli attacked from the front group. Nobody but one could follow. That young Belgian "sprinter" who had won the Milano-Sanremo that year, and arrived with the best already on the Etna MTF, at his first GT ever. Eddy Merckx followed Zilioli for a km, then dropped him to get the first GT win of his career. His legend was yet to start, as the not-yet-Cannibal would arrive 9th in Milan at more than 11' from Gimondi... but it was now clear that the guy was not just a one-day racer. Merckx won the Giro and the Tour 5 times, wore the pink jersey (as well as yellow) for most days than any other, won the triple (Giro, Tour, WC) twice, won all the monuments at least once, and is the rider with most wins at Milano-Sanremo. As far as GTs go, he started here.