Race Design Challenge

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Jul 24, 2014
Giro di Stromeon Stage 13: Vittorio Veneto - Passo San Pellegrino 151km

After yesterday's architecturally scenic tour, today we enter the mountains in the first of a group of four varied and challenging stages, finishing at the Passo San Pellegrino, one of the Giro's most well-used and well-known passes.

We begin the day at the historically significant town of Vittorio Veneto, site of the last battle between Italy and Austria-Hungary during World War I, paving way for the Austrian-Italian Armistice of Villa Giusti that ended the bloody conflict between the two countries. We travel through the Piave valley, past Belluno, an important town in the region and a fairly common Giro stop-off, before tackling the second-category Passo Croce d'Aune. This should soften the peloton up a bit, but is unlikely to have much impact on the stage as there is quite a bit of false flat after the descent as we slowly wind our way up to Fiera di Primiero, and the start of the Passo Rolle. This long but fairly steady climb, perhaps more typical of the French Alps than the Italian Dolomites, was last climbed in full in 2003, when the very same combination of Rolle-Valles-San Pellegrino that is being used today was used, albeit preceding a finish in Alpe di Pampeago that time. The Passo Rolle was also climbed in 2009, but spread across two stages - the first a mountain sprint to the ski resort of San Martino di Castrozza, about two-thirds of the way up the climb, and then the second on the ridiculously short and rather anticlimactic Alpe di Siusi stage the next day. However the climb has great history in the Giro, and in the 50s and 60s in particular it was almost an annual fixture, including in the famous Monte Bondone stage of 1956, won by Charly Gaul in appalling weather conditions.

The length of this climb will certainly sap the riders, but they will have no time to recover as we go up again to the Passo Valles. Slightly overshadowed by its two neighbours, it is nevertheless a nice little climb that offers an excellent springboard for attacks before the climb, topping out just 12km from the finish. However, we are not done yet, as we ascend the Passo San Pellegrino, which, as you can see from this profile (we join the climb at 'bivio Passo Valles') kicks up immediately to over 10% before lessening a little to around 8% at the finish. This is the same side as used as the stage finish in the 2006 Giro stage won by Juan Manuel Gárate, but cutting out the first half of the climb and replacing it with climbing instead of false flat directly beforehand.

In my opinion, the combination of these three classic but not recently overused climbs coming quickly after each other with barely any respite in between should make for some great racing, and it is also a chance to remember this epic stage from the 1963 Giro d'Italia, finishing in Moena after a small descent from San Pellegrino. It was won by eventual KoM winner Vito Taccone with a splendid solo, finishing over 4 minutes ahead of the second-placed rider after nearly 8 hours in the saddle. In third was Franco Balmamion, the winner of the race, who took nearly three minutes out of Vittorio Adorni, the previous maglia rosa, to set him on his way to eventual victory.

Vittorio Veneto:

Passo San Pellegrino:
@Barmaher: Your route reminds me on my start of the giro. A stage to Bologna and one to Padova, featuring the euganean hills.
@Brullnux: Guess what I just did after I finished my post. Yes I made my homework until now :( . Believe it or not but "I had to post a giro stage for the Race Design Challenge" doesnt work as an excuse ;) .
@Everyone: How often do you think we will see the Zoncolan on the 13th, 14th and 15th stage? :D I expect the Zoncolan 4 times (maybe even 5), during these stages, including Libertine's stage.
Jul 24, 2014
No Zoncolan from me, I'm afraid. But, like several other famous climbs (seeing how we seemed to have an impressive collective mindset about Montalcino) I wouldn't be surprised if it makes it into quite a few editions.

Stromeon said:
No Zoncolan from me, I'm afraid. But, like several other famous climbs (seeing how we seemed to have an impressive collective mindset about Montalcino) I wouldn't be surprised if it makes it into quite a few editions.
Good to hear that. I feared that you would put the zoncolan on the sunday, so every action on the two days before would be killed. Would have been a pity because your stage today was absolutely great :D
Once again sorry for the delay, and sorry Eshnar :eek:
I'm going to post the profile now so that Pricey can see it and mark it, and my write up will follow very soon

Big stage. Huge stage. Monte Grappa is a hard climb but only gaps of about a minute or so can really appear, but Crostis-Zoncolan can create gaps over the 5 minutes mark between favourites. RoboBasso™ managed to crush the field in 2010 without Crostis, although hat was probably a blessing for him, as he would have been dropped on the descent pretty easily. Like for Libertine, it is a problem that this stage has to come on a Friday, however it is a Friday all the same, and I'm sure the bosses in Friuli and Veneto will allow employees a day off to enjoy the best cycling race in the world, and some live streaming at work won't hurt :)

The day starts where yesterday finished, and although yesterday the sprinters would have been coming first, today they will be coming way down today, The time limit will be extended to make it more easy for them. The first 30km are all slighlty uphill, at abut 4% with only 5km of serious pressure, where the gradient reaches 7%.

Not much else happens before an intermediate sprint at Sappadaand another descent and MONTE CROSTIS. Libertine explained the 2011 fiasco pretty well, so I will add that this Giro will have ski-race like netting down most of this descent to make it safer and avoid anyone complaining. Skiers sometimes hit these nets at >100kmh so cyclists will be fine, as they all weigh like 60kg instead of 100kg so it's safer for cyclists than skiers. Monte Crostis is a friggin' killer. 14km at 10.1%, it is one of the hardest climbs in all of Italy, and Europe. Here it will be used mainly to thin the group out to circa 5-10 riders, and the riders dropped will be looking at damage limitation, especially if it Astana a la Giro 2015 going at it.

Then comes Zoncolan. It was here that Gilbo destroyed the field, not once but twice. Where RoboBasso™ monstered his way to the top. The hardest climb in any GT, and hardest in Europe (unless an unknown climb in Austria/Switzerland that unfortunately does not get the same coverage is harder). Mario Cipollini threatened to ride it with a MTB as a protest.
The natural amphitheater here will create an unforgettable atmosphere, unknown elsewhere in cycling, amplified by 10 as its the 100th Giro. The riders will be deaf with encouragement/abuse from the fans by the end of it.

Judge 1:
Brullnux T:5/5 C:4/5
Barmaher T:2/5 C:3/5
Gigs98 T:3/5 C:5/5
Billie T:3/5 C:3/5
Finn84 T:2/5 C:2/5
Libertine T:4/5 C:4/5
Stromeon T:4/5 C:2/5

Judge 2:
Brullnux T: 4/5 C: 2/5
Barmaher T: 2/5 C: 4/5
Gigs_98 T: 3/5 C: 5/5 (interesting idea... but especially awesome start and finish town)
Billie T: 5/5 C: 3/5 (that's quite a good amount of ITT. I like)
Finn84 T: 2/5 C: 3/5
Libertine: T: 4/5 C: 2/5
Stromeon T: 3/5 C: 4/5 (Y U NO finish in Moena?!?)

Judge 3:
Brullnux T: 5/5 C: 3/5 (Awesome, I like the fact that you have some climbs before Crostis)
Barmaher T: 3/5 C: 5/5 (a good stage and I just love the Euganean hills)
Gigs_98 T: 2/5 C: 3/5
Billie T: 4/5 C: 2/5 (A very good 2nd ITT)
Finn84 T: 2/5 C: 2/5
Libertine: T: 4/5 C: 3/5 (Great stage)
Stromeon T: 3/5 C: 4/5 (Should be at 4, but I think that the other 2 MTF and the ITT are better, sorry)

GC after stage 13:
Gigs 306
Barmaher 303
Libertine 293
Stromeon 284
Brullnux 277
Billie 261
Finn 221

Watch out, the next stage is the end of the second week! And that means that the second overall evaluation is coming!!!
100th GIRO D'ITALIA stage 14: Pisa - Rapallo (219 km)

Normally I say that a mountain stage either has to include one real monster climb, or the finish has to be really difficult and include at least one 1st category climb. Otherwise I only call the stage a "medium mountain"stage. Well, this one is an exception because although there is no 1st category climb in the whole stage this day will be really difficult. However the first part of the stage is panflat. This part goes from Pisa to La Spezia and both TV's of the day are located there. The first one in Lido di Camaiore and the second one in La Spezia itself. La Spezia is surely one of the most scenic cities in Italy and probably even Europe, and it also has a cycling history. First of all Massimo Podenzana and Alessandro Petacchi were both born in La Spezia. Secondly there were also some giro stages finishing in La Spezia, at last this year when Davide Formolo won one of the best gt stages of the last years. And who knows, maybe in 2 years Formolo will ride through this town again but then as a gc contender.
La Spezia:

However while in 2015 the stage finished there, in 2017 the climbing will start there, because here we will ride into the Cinque Terre, a rugged portion of coast which was also used in this years giro stage to la spezia. For example the first climb I use today was also used in the giro, but from the other side so it wasnt categorized. However from this side the Colle del Telegrafo is definitely worth categorizing. The next two climbs are Fornacchi and the Passo del Termine, both 3rd category and although they wont cause action these climbs might be important because later on team leaders will miss some domestiques, which they lost in this first section of mountains. This Cinque Terre section finishes with the Passo del Bracco. This pass which was part of the course several times (like this year but it wasnt categorized) also was part of the first giro 1909. At this point I have to write that this is maybe the most scenic part of my whole giro. There are little, narrow villages built on the slopes of the coast and as soon as you ride up to a climb you have a beautiful view of the sea (but I guess its nothing new for anyone that Liguria is extremely beautiful).

After a flat section on the top of the mountain, and another descent, the next climbs will be a little bit easier again. I talk about Tassani (4th cat.), Colla della Chiappa (3rd cat.) and the Monte San Giacomo (3rd cat.), which are kind of like the calm before the storm. Thats because of the next two climbs which come almost directly after each other. Firstly the Passo di Romaggi a rather flat but long 2nd category climb. However 1.) the climb is definitely difficult enough to isolate someone if he has a weak team and another one is setting a really high pace and 2.) The descent is very difficult so someone could attack there, at least the flat section between descent and descent hardly exists and the last climb isnt too difficult.However that doesnt mean, it will get easier. No the Passo della Crocetta is really difficult and really steep its just not that long so the time gaps wont be huge if you drop on this final climb. Once again the descent could be crucial. If the road is wet and you take some risks you can get quite some time here. Btw, the descents of these last two climbs aren't difficult because the road surface isnt good, the street is just narrow and twisty.
The finish line is located directly after the the end of the downhill section, in Rapallo, so if you can gap someone there, the gap will still be there at the finish. Rapallo's role in the cycling history, surely isnt that big but its very sad. 2011 the 3rd stage of the Giro d'Italia finished there. This was the stage in which Wouter Weylandt died after a crash on a descent. Yes, a cycling race should be fun to watch, but in the 100th giro we also should be reminded about the horrible sides of this sport and about the dangers for the riders, and I think we should remember the whole history of the giro and not only the bright one.

So, what do I expect from such a stage. Probably it would go to the break, but I'd still expect time gaps between gc contenders. Thats because stage 15 probably isnt gc relevant so the riders can probably already go all out. Whatever will happen, It should be fun.
Stage 14, La Spezia - Monte Penice, 219 km

La Spezia can hold an easy stage or tough stage. After riders have experienced a rare opportunity to continue from the place the previous stage finished.

The stage will feature climbs, climbs and climbs. Not much flat throughout the long stage. While the majority of the climbs is 4th category, the stage might be a good for someone who targets the victory in mountains classification. The hardest climb (profiled) is the last one, so the favourites don't want to lose too much energy earlier on.

Climbs listed:
Telegrafo 6.7/5.8%
Termine 8.9/6.0%
Montale 5.9/6.7%
Bracco 10.1/4.3%
Velva 14.1/3.7%
Cento Croci 12.3/5.8%
Tomarlo 14.3/5.3%
Mercatello 9.0/4.8%
Monte Penice 16.9/7.0%

Arguably the biggest and hardest stage of the Giro comes on the second weekend, on Stage 14. 770m more climbing than this year's Vuelta stage 11, It will have the potential to put in minutes to the other competitors. Also, as you may have noticed, I have fallen victim of Libertine's Fedaia propaganda. Its beauty has infected me too. :p

The day starts off in the town of Santo Stefano di Cadore. Our first climb of the day is Passo San Antonio. A tricky climb, it measures 7.1% over 5.5km. It will probably decide the day's break, but could well not, if the teams decide to go crazy from the outset. A short kick up precedes a technical descent and 20km of false flat before we reach the Passo Tre Croci.This is a much more famous climb, used in the Giro 5 times previously, but often from the other side. The two sides do not differ much in difficulty, and if anything, this side is harder. We have our descent into the most beautiful town IMO of all the alps, Cortina d'Ampezzo. Stunningly beautiful, it is home to the women's ski race Tour every year and is a regular feature of the Giro.

After Cortina, we head up the first of 3 first category climbs: Passo Valparola. we head up it the easier side, but it is still a formidable beast. 17.6km at 5.3%, it is irregular and will provide the first true difficulty of the day. No one will attack on this climb, most like, but many people will wish to speed up the process of ther climb by putting in an ordinate amount of pressure on other riders to tire them out before the Giau-Falzarego-Fedaia combo at the end. the good thing about having a stage wholly in the true Dolomites are the absolutely stunning views. Having been born in Italy to Italian parents, before moving to the UK, my whole family is in agreement that the most beautiful mountain range in the world are the Dolomites. It is possibly the most beautiful part of all of Italy. Rocks seemingly planted there at surreal angles and out of nowhere. Incredible.

After the technical but wide descent of Passo Valparola (which sean kelly will no doubt have difficulty pronouncing), we have the short Passo Campolongo, which will be used twice in two days, also in an *ahem* interesting stage tomorrow. Here we catch a glimpse of the Sella Group, another incredible place. A slab of stone chucked on the floor. a huge slab, mind you.

After a long descent, we reach Caprile, which is where i expect most of the racing to begin for real. Because now we hit the mythical Passo Giau. A monster. 14.4km at 8%. Where Contador kicked off proceedings in the 2011 Gardeccia stage, now engrained in history. Whether or not we will have AC in 2017 is unknown, but maybe Nibali can attempt a long-range attack. There is much to say about Passo Giau that you guys don't already know.

And we keep going! Down slightly for 7km before Passo Falzarego. This is really the second part of the Passo Valparola, but has a different name because it ends after a left turn to go back into the valley of Caprile. It is a long descent before Caprile, and a good descender like Bardet/Sanchez/Nibali at his best could put a lot of time into chasers before the final climb of the day: Passo Fedaia.

Under the looming, ominous shadow of the queen of the dolomites, Fedaia is a great climb. It is very hard and it possesses the most beautiful scenery of any climb in the world. This combo has been used before in 2008, and there attacks came from everywhere int he last 50km, but the race ultimately decided on the slope of Fedaia, although the stage winner Sella had been up the road all day.

The climb is a killer, the second half of it averaging <10%.

Libertine's stage 14:

Libertine Seguros said:
Tolmezzo - Corvara in Badia, 183km

It's the first of multiple queen stages as we visit the majestic Dolomites in all their glory. After Monte Zoncolan yesterday, a second day of punishment awaits as the riders look at a packed schedule, including three cat.1 climbs among five categorized climbs, one of them the greatest climb in world cycling of course, because no satisfactory centenary Giro is ever quite complete without Fedaia (Fedaia!!!) and I shall wreak great vengeance upon any of you who have had the temerity not to include it in your editions.


Anyway: following the long-standing Giro tradition of stupendous stinginess with regards to mountains points, with the Sella Corso and Passo di Mauria, both with their own histories, not even meriting points being given.

In one of my early Giri in the RDT I started similarly and went on to a finish in Caprile after a descent of the mighty Fedaia (Fedaia!!!), going for Tre Croci south and Giau. Today, however, I forgo these legendary summits (Tre Croci and Giau, obviously), instead opting for some similarly famous climbs slightly further to the south. First up are the scenic switchbacks of the Passo Cibiana.

A fairly short climb, the steep middle section makes this a cat.2 climb to warn riders of the impending difficulties. We descend, fittingly, through to Zoldo Alto, where Paolo Savoldelli took the win that led to his 2005 Giro triumph so memorably defended in that epic Finestre stage. That was, however, after a climb of the Passo Duran, which we are avoiding as we instead turn north to the Forcella Staulanza.

With 12,6km @ 6,7% this is the most consistent climb of the day, and crests 72km from the line. It has some stunning switchbacks and, like anywhere else in this region, stunning scenery. But honestly, who really gives a flying one? We have more important fish to fry today, because next up is FEDAIA!!!

There is only one type of cycling fan: they who adore the Passo Fedaia (Fedaia!!!). Those that don't love the Passo Fedaia are not cycling fans. I shouldn't have to repeat its stats. The TV cameras can fill our eyes with amazing if the riders ride like cowards, which they may as there is a tough day tomorrow and the summit is 42km out - though the last 6km of the climb are the steepest all day and the best launchpad for an attack. Tactical racing could be very important here, if some leaders have teammates up the road who sat up yesterday on the Zonc, and off the back of Crostis-Zoncolan controlling this could be very difficult. And if the riders do soft-pedal it, it just means that the cameras get more time to linger on the sights of the Passo di Fedaia, and WE ALL WIN.

Oh yea, it also has some pretty epic Giro history as well, perhaps most vividly the 1998 stage to Selva di Val Gardena that I have used as a slight inspiration for this stage, where Pantani wrestled the lead of the Giro into his hands on its slopes, paving the way for the double that turned him from a great rider to a legend. It has only had one MTF, in 2008 when Sella triumphed, and hasn't been seen since 2011 which is TOO LONG BY ABOUT FOUR YEARS.

After the descent from Fedaia we move the stage on to another stage that was a partial inspiration, the excellent 2002 stage to Corvara from Conegliano, the finale of which I have replicated, and which was won spectacularly from the break by Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio, the Mexican climber who used to light up the Giro in the early 2000s. First up is Passo Pordoi, a spectacular ascent with generations of Giro history.

Of course, Pordoi has its famous Coppi memorial, but instead let's see the man himself grinding up the climb in 1949:

The Passo di Pordoi has been climbed no fewer than 37 times since 1940, and the first rider over the pass includes a great many of the legends of the sport - Bartali, Coppi, Koblet, Bitossi, Marino Basso, Lejarreta, Fignon, Mottet, Chioccioli, Indurain and Chiapucci. Though it's appeared in the Giro del Trentino and, more bizarrely, the Tour de Pologne, we haven't seen it for a few years in the Corsa Rosa though, so we're overdue a return.

With 13km at a fairly consistent 6% and cresting 18,5km from the finish, the climb isn't the best set to break the race up on its own, but after the race that we've had thus far, a lack of domestiques plus a lot of tired legs will make this one particularly difficult, especially as Campolongo from this side is only a short, 3rd-category rise, before a technical descent packed with hairpin bends and lacets straight to the finish in Corvara.

Corvara in Badia is one of Italy's main Alpine skiing stations, and a regular host of the World Cup in Alpine skiing (as opposed to, you know, proper skiing ;) ). It has hosted the Giro a number of times in the late 80s and early 90s, although not since that great 2002 stage. Winners here include Moreno Argentin and Claudio Chiapucci, so it has plenty of heritage. It allows us to bring several classic passes together without the stage being about any one climb and, with another stage tomorrow to give people headaches and break their legs and their spirits, even if the leaders leave it until Campolongo, they'll be alone for a while before that so this could still be a winner.

And Barmaher's

barmaher said:
Giro di Barmaher

Treviso to Zoncolan 223km

So here we are. Stage 14, and it is the first MTF of this year’s Giro. There are only three bona fide mountain top finishes in this year’s race, so climbers will want to make use of the steep gradients of the final climb today, Monte Zoncolan.

Riders will travel from Veneto to the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia for a long slog in the saddle. Rather than go the direct route into Zoncolan, I have added a few tough climbs in before we hit the finale. Although these climbs are tough in their own right, I don’t expect anything other than fireworks on the Zoncolan. The approach is identical to the one that was used in Giro 2014, with Pura and Sella Razzo serving as appetizers once more.

Treviso is an attractive town in the Veneto region of north-east Italy, with a population of around 80,000. Rebuilt and restored after Second World War bombing, the town centre is a rambling maze of streets lined with arcaded walkways. Looking up, you'll see fragments of the painted frescoes which once decorated Treviso's houses. The town is circled by a town wall and by waterways. Treviso’s defensive walls, moat and imposing gateways are impressive sights.

One of Treviso's other notable features is its comfortable air of prosperity. The town is home to the clothing empire Benetton, which has a large store behind the Palazzo dei Trecento in the town centre.

As you can see from the profile below, tomorrow is a tough day whatever way you look at it. 223km from pillar to post. 4500m of climbing. One category two climb and three category one climbs, including the legendary Zoncolan.

Category 2 Sella Chianzutan. 952m altitude. 9km @ 6.2%
Category 1 Passo del Pura. 1439m altitude. 11.8km @ 7.7%
Category 1 Sella Razzo. 1810m altitude. 11.3km @ 7%
Category 1 Monte Zoncolan. 1742m altitude 10.1km @ 11.9%

The first 100km are nothing special. It is going to be a long day in the saddle, with lots of KOM points available. So expect to see a group of strong non-GC climbers in the hunt for a stage win or the mountains jersey. The first climb begins after 115km, the Sella Chianzutan. This has been used in the Giro in 2010 when the riders then took a more direct route to the final climb. This climb is not too difficult; I am just classifying the last 9km.

The riders will then go through Ampezzo before taking the first category 1 climb of the day, the Passo del Pura. This climb combined with the Sella Razzo offers a real test for riders. Both climbs provide over 800m of altitude gain, with a short descent in between. Given the long descent into Ovaro, they will serve more as leg softeners than launching pads for attack.

And what can we say about the final climb into Zoncolan? Libertine has said it all. It is a killer, and we should start to really see the GC battle shape up after this climb and the ITT two days ago.

This is a Saturday, in the middle of May on a legendary mountain. This is going to be great fun.

Man of the Stage
"Want to go for a spin?" the poet and maestro of Italian cinema asked the rent boy, according to the latter's confession to the police. "Come ride with me, and I'll give you a present."

So began the events leading to the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini, brilliant intellectual, director and homosexual whose political vision – based on a singular entwinement of Eros, Catholicism and Marxism – foresaw Italian history after his death, and the burgeoning of global consumerism. It was a murder that, four decades later, remains shrouded in the kind of mystery and opacity Italy specialises in – un giallo, a black thriller.

There are many theories about his death, far better to celebrate his life.

Pier Paolo Pasolini, although born in Bologna, was raised in Friuli after his mother moved the children there after the father of the family was caught in in gambling debts.

Pasolini distinguished himself as a poet, journalist, philosopher, novelist, playwright, filmmaker, newspaper and magazine columnist, actor, painter and political figure. He demonstrated a unique and extraordinary cultural versatility, becoming a highly controversial figure in the process. While his work remains controversial to this day, in the years since his death Pasolini has come to be valued by many as a visionary thinker and a major figure in Italian literature and art. American literary critic Harold Bloom considers Pasolini to be a major European poet and important in 20th-century poetry, including his works in his collection of the Western canon.

Pasolini, inspired by the panoramic landscapes of Casarsa in the province of Pordenone, began writing poetry at the age of seven. Later on, while his high-school classmates and friends joined the school football team, Pasolini established his own group dedicated to literary discussions. After publishing several poetry collections, Pasolini went on to direct legendary films throughout the ’60s that depicted the neorealistic movement of the 20th century.

Some of Pasolini’s most legendary films include Mamma Roma and Il Fiore delle mille e una notte, which was released in English as Arabian Nights.

Munch for the Bunch
This is going to be a tough day. Riders will expend a lot of calories with 200km plus of riding and 4000m plus of vertical gain. Carbohydrates are going to be the order of the day

Orzotto is an Italian dish similar to risotto, but made with pearl barley instead of rice. Orzotti are a speciality of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy. Orzotto is a portmanteau of risotto and orzo, the Italian word for barley.

Like risotto, Orzotto dishes can range from the very plain to the elaborate. Riders will be served a big bowl of orzotto with garlic prawns and fennel.

Giro d'Italia - Stage 14: Palù di Giovo - Val di Mules/Mausertal (173 km)

We've had the timetrials, now it's time for the mountains. The weekend at the end of the 2nd week is the perfect spot to place to proper hard stages in what is my favourite part of Italy for route designing: Trentino-Alte Adige.

Start is in Palù di Giovo. A small frazione North of Trento. Home to about 500 people. That seems very small to host a Giro start but there is a reason. It's the home town of not one but two Giro champions. Francesco Moser and Gilberto Simoni. And the other Moser (Aldo and Enzo) brothers aswel ofcourse.

A rather flat first part of the stage until the mountains start in Cavalese. First up is the Passo di Lavazè (10.7km @ 7.5%). A good warm up for what is to come.

There is a long descent from the top of Passo di Lavazè towards Bozen but we're taking a small detour over the Obergummer. We're only doing the last 6 kms on this profile (from the link with Costalunga) which are at little over 8%. It's quite a wide road for an Italian climb but has a nice stretch of hairpins.

After a bit of flat at the top we'll descend to Bozen where we immediately start climbing again. The Oberinn/Auna di Sopra (20.4 km @ 5.1%). A much longer rolling climb. It has quite an open character with good views over some grass fields.

Another short descent brings us to what is without doubt the toughest climb of the day. We'll do the last 36 kms of the South-side of the Passo di Pennes/Penserjoch. Most of those 36 kms are false flat though so it might be more reasonable to look at the final 9 km (@ 8%) to see any serious action between the big guns. The top is less than 25 kms from the finish and it's followed by quite a steep descent with some nasty hairpins.

After descending towards Mules the riders will tackle the last obstacle of the day. The Val di Mules climb to the finish. It's quite short (7.0 km @ 8.7) but that's on purpose. It's always better to have tougher climbs earlier to force the action a bit further from the finish.

All this makes for over 5000 metres of altitude gain and hopefully some serious hard fought racing!
Jul 24, 2014
Giro di Stromeon Stage 14: Vigo di Fassa - Passo Pordoi 139km

Last but not least it's time for the last in what has been a set of cracking mountain stages today, and like Libertine and Brullnux I am attempting to bring out the best of my favourite area for stage-designing, the Dolomites proper. This area is packed full of tough climbs that not only offer absolutely stunning scenery and a whole load of Giro history, but connect extremely well together, and I am attempting to use them to their full potential to create a stage that would have our dear friend Zomegnan salivating at the very prospect.

As this is one of my favourite areas in the world, and especially for cycling, I've included more pictures than the usual two per write-up in a little gallery at the foot of the post.

We start the day in Vigo di Fassa, just a little bit up the road from Moena, at the foot of the descent down from the Passo San Pellegrino, where we finished yesterday. There's a little bit of false flat up until we go through Canazei for the first time, but after that I mean it when I say there is genuinely no flat kilometre afterwards (well maybe one at the top of Fedaia :p ). The first climb on the menu today is the Passo Sella, tackled in full from the south. This is a well-traversed climb in the Giro, but astonishingly we haven't seen it since 2005, which is absolutely shameful considering the simply awesome views of the Torri del Sella it offers. This will be important in sorting the breakaway out, as no doubt many riders will want to go on the attack as the stage is pretty short but there are tons of mountain points out there for the adventurous and all sorts of fun and games to be had. The Passo Sella is almost immediately followed by the Passo Gardena, comfortably the easiest categorised climb today but that's because we join it about 5/6ths of the way to the top - the Passo Gardena in full from Ponte Gardena, which incidentally has to the best of my knowledge never been used in the Giro before, is 32km at 5.2%, a long and unrelenting climb indeed! In terms of overall scenery Fedaia, with its grand vistas of the Marmolada, the beautiful lake and the enchanting caves and steep rocky valleys, may just take the biscuit but in terms of spectacular mountain scenery Gardena is the winner for me, with views of the Sella massif and the sheer Sassolungo massif to the west, and past the Brunecker Turm towards the Alta Badia to the east.

The descent of the Gardena is very twisty and technical, and it brings us down to Corvara where, instead of taking the short loop round the Sellaronda, approaching Pordoi from the east, we head north for a little bit before we turn back east and head up the Passo Valparola. This is probably the least important of the big five climbs of the day, as the break is likely to be well-established by now and we will probably be seeing tempo riding from all groups at this point. Nevertheless, it's still a challenging climb and once we reach the business end of the stage the accumulated fatigue that has built up will be extremely important. We descend down towards Cortina but we don't actually reach there as at Pocol we make almost a 180 degree turn that sends us onto the Passo Giau. This means we won't be tackling the majestic Giau in its full splendour à la Gardeccia 2011, cutting off the initial Cortina to Pocol section, but the main body of the climb is still preserved and it's still as challenging as ever. This stage nevertheless looks to pay homage to that epic stage by using a Giau-Fedaia-finish climb combo, but in historic terms we go one better than Rifugio Gardeccia by finishing on the Pordoi (more on that later). The Passo Giau has seen more regular visits by the Giro in recent years: in 2007 preceding Tre Cime (alas, a repeat of this was not to be seen in 2013), in 2008 on the way to Fedaia, in 2011 on that stage, and in 2012 in that beautifully designed but appallingly raced descent finish into Cortina. It's beautiful, it's steep, and it often provides good action (unless you have Ryder Hesjedal and Joaquim Rodríguez trying their level best to strangle any life out of the race); with 57km to go from the summit to the finish you might think that it was a little too far out for a serious GC contender to show their cards, but then again 1) This is a pretty crazy stage, and if the riders are to live up to the spirit of the Giro they should do it justice and 2) Gardeccia 2011.

On the descent I opted to include the uncategorised but noteworthy bump that is the Colle Santa Lucia. It only adds an extra 4km between the tops of Giau and Fedaia, and could be an interesting little point should the race have broken apart on the Giau. The descent off this brings us to Caprile, and you know that means only one thing: it's Fedaia time! Libertine eulogised this amazing climb far better than I ever could so if you want to know everything there is to know about Fedaia and you haven't read that write-up, go and read it now. Essentially it combines magnificent scenery at almost every corner, cascading waterfalls, racing in what is basically a chasm, prolonged very steep gradients, and a generous dollop of Giro history into one melting-pot of awesomeness. Fedaia was a focal point of the epic Gardeccia stage in 2011; Fedaia was a focal point in Emanuele Sella's mind-boggling solo win in 2008; Fedaia was a focal point in 2001 when Simoni seized the maglia rosa from Frigo en route to overall victory in an action-packed stage; Fedaia was a focal point in 1998 when Pantani attacked and put four minutes into Zulle to claim the maglia rosa in a breathtaking ride; Fedaia was a focal point in 1996 using the same Fedaia-Pordoi combo as today as Enrico Zaina took a great win; and again in 1991 and 1990... I could go on and on about this but I won't bore you too much :p

As I said, the Fedaia-Pordoi combination is steeped in Giro history, having been used in 2001, 1996, 1991 and 1990, and finishing in Corvara after Campolongo in 2002, 1993 and 1989, and having witnessed so many great stages I think it would be criminal for me to leave it out in my 100th Giro. And of course a massive multi-mountain stage wouldn't be complete without paying tribute to Italy's greatest, the legendary Fausto Coppi, and what better way to do that than by finishing on the Passo Pordoi? Hopefully we will have seen some serious attacks on Fedaia, if not then the riders should be rounded up and shot, so the race should be pretty chaotic by the time we turn straight off the descent of Fedaia at Canazei (we came through here before this madness started, remember?) and onto the climb. While not as steep as Fedaia, Pordoi is nevertheless challenging, but not challenging enough to discourage attacks on the penultimate climb, which is why it's worked so well as a combination in the past. It has been used many times over the years, indeed it between 1983 and 1993 it was the Cima Coppi in 8 out of those 11 editions, but as we can see with a worrying trend in the Dolomites, not so much recently - the most recent outing was at the start of the Giro 2008 Fedaia stage where it was all over and done with within 9km of the stage, not covering itself in glory. The 100th Giro is a perfect time to bring back such a legendary climb. Our poor weary riders will perhaps not take quite such a favourable view as they struggle up the climb after some intense racing, to come to a welcome halt in front of the famous Fausto Coppi statue at the summit.

This should be an absolute treat to watch.

Vigo di Fassa:

Passo Sella:

Passo Gardena:

Passo Valparola:

Passo Giau:

Passo Fedaia:

(Sorry Libertine, I know one photo isn't enough to do justice to Fedaia, and you used most of the best ones!)

Passo Pordoi:
When you post this stage

and its the by far easiest one of the day, you know that its a weekend :D
I am already afraid of the points, because if I understood the rules correctly two of us will get a 2 in the technical rating :eek:
Judge 1:
Brullnux T:3/5 C:4/5 W:3/5
Barmaher T:3/5 C:2/5 W:4/5
Gigs98 T:4/5 C:5/5 W:3/5
Billie T:2/5 C:2/5 W:4/5
Finn84 T:2/5 C:2/5 W:2/5
Libertine T:5/5 C:3/5 W:2/5
(Best Fedaia stage) (Fedaia!!!)
Stromeon T:4/5 C:4/5 W:5/5

Judge 2:
Brullnux T:4/5 C:4/5 W:5/5
Barmaher T:3/5 C:5/5 W:4/5
Gigs98 T:2/5 C:4/5 W:3/5
Billie T:3/5 C:3/5 W:2/5
Finn84 T:2/5 C:2/5 W:2/5
Libertine T:4/5 C:3/5 W:4/5
Stromeon T:5/5 C:2/5 W:3/5

Judge 3:
Brullnux T: 3/5 C 4/5 W:5/5
Barmaher T: 3/5 C: 3/5 W:4/5
Gigs_98 T: 4/5 C: 2/5 W:3/5
Billie T: 2/5 C: 3/5 W:2/5
Finn84 T: 2/5 C: 2/5 W:2/5
Libertine: T: 4/5 C: 5/5 W:4/5
Stromeon T: 5/5 C: 3/5 W:3/5

(Everyone did a great job and created a great stage, that made my job very hard, I had to give a 2 in the technical rating to two great stages.)


Today the judges weren't so talkative :p

The GC after two weeks is extremely close at the top!

Barmaher 358
Gigs 354
Libertine 347
Stromeon 340
Brullnux 338
Billie 300
Finn 252
I echoe Eshnars words, it was incredibly tough to judge yesterday. All 7 stages were great and I had to give 2 of them a 2/5! I obstained from giving comments yesterday as I didn't want to sound like a hypocrite praising a stage that had been given a poor score. It was the toughest day to score by far.

Eshnar you are cruel with your scoring system. :p
Stage 15, Castellania - Genova, 150.5 km

Prior to second rest day, the riders have another hilly stage. This is a challenge itself as roads are very narrow for majority of the stage. The stage will start in a small village of Castellania - the birthplace of Fausto Coppi.

The finish is in major city on the coast but the riders may not enjoy it for a long time - a transfer waits before the final week.

Vigobonzo 5.6/6.6%
Prato 5.1/6.9%
San Fermo 13.4/5.1%
Crocefieschi 6.0/7.6%
Frassinetto 2.5/7.5%
Fontanegli 2.9/7.8%
Giro di Barmaher

Stage 15 Pieve di Cadore to Arabba (147km)

The Dolomites are really the best area in Europe to draw a cycling race. There are legendary climbs. They link together well. The scenery is fantastic. There are so many climbs in such a short area that it is difficult for Giro organisers to be too repetitive.

And anywhere you look, the towns and the climbs bring back memories of Giri gone past.

Take our start town. Pieve di Cadore. This is the town that saw two pivotal days in the famous 1947 Giro. The battle between Coppi and Bartali. Everybody had an opinion on who would win. By stage 15, Bartali fans had started to believe. Their rider was 2’41” ahead of Coppi. And some people thought that Giuio Bresci was a danger to a seemingly listless Coppi. That changed in the first Dolomite stage. Coppi and Bartali repeatedly attacked each other. Although Bartali looked stronger, he couldn’t shift Coppi. They did distance Bresci, and the two rest days in Pieve di Cadore only heightened the expectation about the next stage, which would go over many of the climbs we see today. It is a nice town in its own right.

It’s this stage, stage sixteen of 1947, that cycling fans still talk about. The ride over the Falzarego and Pordoi passes to Trento. Originally the Sella had also been part of the day’s race route, but it was snowed in and had to be eliminated.

On the Falzarego Bartali dropped his chain and instantly Coppi was gone. But on the descent Coppi had his own chain troubles, allowing Bartali to regain contact. Then on the unpaved switchbacks of the Pordoi, Coppi attacked and this time there was no remedy for Bartali. Italian writers called long-armed Coppi “the Heron”, and here he spread his wings and soared away from his nemesis. Bartali gathered up all the help he could get, including Magni, Maes, Bresci and Alfredo Martini, but it was to no avail. Coppi rode into Trento alone, 4 minutes 24 seconds ahead of the Bartali group, allowing him to take the lead.

Anyway, I am getting distracted. Where was I? Ah, the Giro di Barmaher. An even tougher day lies in store for the riders. I have structured my weekend like this intentionally. I made the first MTF on the Saturday. Riders are probably going to save everything for the Zoncolan; the earlier climbs are leg looseners. And I hope that the Zoncolan climb is not going to have a negative impact on today's racing. In fact, a weakness yesterday might try to be exploited again by crafty GC riders.

The Sunday is positioned as it is to encourage riders to go balls out. Rest day tomorrow. And if a GC contender is showing signs of weakness, the attacks can start on the Fedaia, maybe even the Falzarego. The stage is short (147km) but it has 5100m of climbing. There are lots of tough mountains in my Giro, but this is one of the twin queen stages.

Cat 2 Passo Cibiana 1533m altitude. 9km @ 8.2%
Cat 2 Forcella Staulanza. 1756m altitude. 15.6km @ 6%
Cat 1 Passo Giau. 2174m altitude. 9.5km @ 8.9%
Cat 2 Passo di Falzarego. 2095m altitude. 10.5km @ 5.6%
Cat 1 Passo Fedaia. 2062m altitude. 13.1km @ 7.9%
Cat 1 Passo Pordoi (Cima Coppi) 2238m altitude. 11.1km @ 7.1%


After riders leave Pieve di Cadore, we have ten flat kilometres. This is all they have today, so they might as well enjoy them!. First up Passo Cibiana from the east. This climb is short by Dolomites standards, but very steep at the top. The views are very nice, but expect nothing more than the train of one of the GC teams tapping out a rhythm at the front of the bunch, with the grupetto forming at the back. The climb was used in the 2011 Giro (Garzelli) also in 88, 70 and 66. Most of the time it is in the first half of stages, given the beasts of the Dolomites in close proximity.

Then Forcella Staulanza, used in 2012, 2006, 2004, 2002 and 1998. And probably countless other times. This is a real long killer of a climb, without the massively tough gradients. We are just going over the final 16km from the profile below. It was used to link the Duran and the Giau in the 2012 race. This was the stage that Purito won in pink after the descent. Lots of naysayers were warning that he needed to put more time into his rivals, but with lots of mountains to come, and only a short ITT, surely he wasn’t going to lose to Hesjedal?

Then we hit the Passo di Giau, which has been used many times recently (2013, 2012, 11, 08 and 07). We approach this climb from the south, using the last 9.5km from the below image. As you can see from this profile, it is easy to see why this climb is so popular. But with a lot of riding still to do, I expect to see more action from the back of the peloton than from the front. It killed me not to use this climb a bit more prominently in my Giro. I love the views a lot. But such is life.

Next up we have the Passo di Falzarego. Similar to the Staulanza, this does not have very steep gradients, but it is another staple of Giro from the 40s through the 70s to today. In 1948, the year after the Giro above, the climb of Falzarego saw controversy. It was here and on the Pordoi that Magni apparently received the pushes from fans that so incensed Coppi that he withdrew from the Giro. On the profile below the climb joins at the 10.5km to go point, the blue line where Giau joins on the image.

Then Fedaia. Once again, Libertine says it better than I ever could. I just want to show you the picture of Ricco finishing the stage at the top of the climb. It is so tough, even a suitcase full of gear won’t make you feel better. If riders aren’t strewn across this climb in 1s and 2s, the organiser is going to pull out of the race (that would be novel) in protest. You guys have the parcours, there is a rest tomorrow, now use it!

Finally Passo Pordoi. Another Giro staple. Lots of memories here, but Charly Mottet fans will have mixed feelings about the stage in 1990 that saw a double ascent of the Pordoi. Mottet tried and tried to shift Bugno but couldn’t. The Italian gifted the Frenchman the stage, but the Giro was Bugno’s.

The finish will take in Arabba, which will be reached after a short (8.5km) fast descent from the Pordoi. As you may have gathered from the fact that I have only had one MTF so far, I think mountain top finishes are too common in GT’s these days. But finishing in Arabba was also inspired by the infamous Giro stage of 1984. You may remember that the Stelvio stage in 1984 was cancelled due to snow. At this height (nearly 2800m) snow is common in May. And, here's where the news is dicey. Organizers reported that either the roads were clear or that they could be made clear with a snowplow. But, an official had said the road was impassable and had to be rerouted. The organizers agreed. Fignon claimed the Stelvio road was clear. "They knew I was capable of winning the Giro and they made sure I lost. They knew Moser couldn't have followed me. He was being pushed all the time and he was never penalized. I got penalties. Everyone got penalties, but not him."

One French writer claimed that the staircase in his hotel was the hardest climb of the day. Others argued, including Renault coach Cyrille Guimard that Moser had been pushed half way up the easier Tonale climb by other riders, spectators and his brothers.

So Arabba it is, and hopefully the weather will allo for riders to climb the Fedaia, Pordoi and Giau. If not, there are many different ways to get to Arabba, avoiding passes over 2000m. Riders will be absolutely shattered, and will be transferring to Lombardy for the rest day. Whoever is in pink will be happy, but surely nervous about the week ahead.

Man of the Stage
Pieve di Cadore is a commune with less than 5,000 people. But there was quite a choice in this small town. Maybe the most productive town in Italy for producing famous people? Olympic and world championship gold medallist in skiing Pietro Piller Cottrer, numerous famous hockey players, an actress and a handful of politicians all hail from this small place.

And believe me, I tried to dig some scandal or smutty stories from these. But nothing. So I will go with comfortably the most famous resident. And there is no shame in that.

Tiziano Vecellio (ca. 1488–1576), known as Titian, was the greatest Venetian artist of the sixteenth century, eventually gaining international fame. Titian is known above all for his remarkable use of colour; his painterly approach was highly influential well into the seventeenth century. Titian contributed to all of the major areas of Renaissance art, painting altarpieces, portraits, mythologies, and pastoral landscapes with figures.

Two of Titian's works in private hands have been up for sale after 2008. One of these works, Diana and Actaeon, was purchased by London's National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland on 2 February 2009 for ₤50 million ($71 million).

The sale has created controversy with politicians who said, "The money, some of which came from government funds, could have been spent more wisely during a deepening recession." The Scottish government offered ₤12.5 million and ₤10 million came from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The rest of the money came from the National Galleries in London and from private donations.

On 11 February 2009, an argument about Titian's age at death arose between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Leader of the Opposition David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions, where Cameron was attempting to ridicule Brown's general factual accuracy. This debate spilt over onto Titian's entry on Wikipedia, when an editor from Conservative Party HQ altered Titian's dates to substantiate David Cameron's claim and then directed the BBC to the article for them to use as verification. Cameron later apologized and said the staff member had been "disciplined". The precise date of Titian's birth is uncertain.

The reference was to Brown's comment on 30 January 2009 to the World Economic Forum in Davos:

This is the first financial crisis of the global age, and there is no clear map that has been set out from past experience to deal with it. I'm reminded of the story of Titian, who's the great painter who reached the age of 90, finished the last of his nearly 100 brilliant paintings, and he said at the end of it, "I'm finally beginning to learn how to paint," and that is where we are.

Diana and Callisto is a painting completed between 1556 and 1559 by Titian. Shown below, it portrays the moment in which the goddess Diana discovers that her maid Callisto has become pregnant by Jupiter.

Munch for the Bunch
It is a rest day tomorrow, so two courses are on offer. Both courses showcase the Austrian influence on Dolomites cooking.

Tris di Canederli (three tastings of canederli) – this is basically three delicious balls of bread (farm-style dumplings approaching the size of tennis balls!). The canederli usually contain Speck, a type of cured ham similar to proscutto and produced only in the South Tyrol, and are served “en brood” or a soup-like broth. Here you can see they have been prepared to resemble the Italia flag

And for dessert, we are going to dish up Apfelstrudel Dolomiti – you’ve probably heard of or even tried this treat – apple strudel in English! – but you’ve never had it prepared as good as the Italians make it!