Boys and girls. First and final volcano finish of Il Grandissimo. The location of the forges of Hephaestus himself. Who will forge a great win atop Mount Etna. Who will forge his One Ring To Rule Them All?
Stage 3: Enna – Etna 150 km
Monday, October 5th, 12:10 CEST
The first MTF of the race comes immediately on the first Monday. This short stage starts from the town of Enna, in the middle of the island, and heads east through a sequence of shallow climbs and descents, rarely surpassing 5%, heading towards the highest active volcano in (geographical) Europe. None of these climbs is categorized, as the final climb will easily take all the attention, however some of them would deserve a category. For example, the climb that starts in Paternò and finishes just before Nicolosi measures about 13 km at 4%. It brings to the foot of the mountain (Nicolosi is the starting town of one of the roads that bring uphill), but the riders won’t start the real climbing yet. Instead, they’ll go around the mountain, from south to north through the eastern side. During the process, besides the stunning views, there will be two intermediate sprints, first in Zafferana Etnea and then, after a couple minor climbs, in Linguaglossa, where the climb finally starts. Mount Etna (GPM1, 18.8 km at 6.6%) has recently been a very common sight in the Giro, but often from different sides. The one of today is relatively new, having only been climbed in the 2011 stage, but not all the way to the top, as the road diverges 3 km before today’s finish. Those new 3 km are also the steepest part of the climb, which doesn’t bode well for long-range attacks, but being only stage 3 I think it’s fine. It is definitely a great climb to shake the GC up and to provide a first chance to gauge the strength of the climbers.
Mount Etna: GPM1, 18.8 km at 6.6%
Yet another ascent to the volcano. This time it’s from the northern side, with a finish at Piano Provenzana. A very regular climb at 7% in the first two thirds, followed then by an easier and a harder section.
What to expect:
Hopefully attacks in the last 3 km (I would be very surprised if they come before that). Recently the Etna did not see good racing, mainly due to the wind and its usual early placement in the race. We’ll see this time.