Stage 14 :: Saturday May 22, 2010
201km :: Ferrara - Asolo
Mountains! Finally! Or rather... a mountain! Only one rated climb on this, but it's nice leg stretcher to get everyone ready for the fireworks that start on Sunday.
The climb from Semonzo to the summit of Monte Grappa will be an arduous one and comes 40km from the finish in Asolo, so while GC might not get itself sorted on this stage (in fact, most assuredly wont), expect the GPM contenders to be riding off the front for the tasty, tasty points. The profile for this stage looks like a car after a road accident: nice and smooth and sleek and flat until you see a couple dents and then the massive OMG.
Mountains! Or, at least, one mountain. It's a long flat jaunt north from Ferrar to Asolo. After reaching Asolo, the course makes a loop around hte outside of the city, where the Monte Grappa lies in wait. A few small bumps announce the day's major climb which begins at kilometer 140. The Monte Grappa, she is long, spanning 18.9 kilometers from bottom to top. The average gradient is 8%, and there is a section of 14% to add that oh-so-special something to the proceedings. From the summit of the Monte Grappa, there remains 40 kilometers to race, much of it downhill. The final fifteen kilometers are false flat descending. The finish looks mostly flat, if not slightly downhill.
The Giro has not gone entirely according to prediction in recent days. With the Zoncolan on the program for Sunday's stage and the long descent to the finish, the climb to Monte Grappa may not prove especially decisive. Certainly, it is long enough to cause problems for a rider whose form is on the decline. The stage also offers a big test for the young Maglia Rosa, Richie Porte. Can Porte climb the big mountains late in a grand tour? We'll see soon enough. Behind him, Arroyo and Sastre stalk the jersey, and both will take their chances as the road turns up. For Liquigas, the big team of this Giro, the next few days should be interesting, to say the least. Do they support their riders, Kiserlovski and Agnoli, in the top ten? Or, do Basso and Nibali try desperately to gain a result and save face? Quite the dilemma there in the House of Liquigas. Sleep well, Amadio. Two hard climbing stages back-to-back after eleven straight days of racing. This Giro, she is difficult.
And there we have it. A real mountain! A REAL mountain. After we saw the GC man flyoing everywhere on some bumps this is going to be spectacle.. A downhill and some km flat after the mountain. Liquigas is going to be allll over the mountain. They want it.. They want it bad.. Kiserlovski in the attack. Blowing up the whole top 10 and there is The Smile. Smiling his way to the top.. Too bad the descent is not good for him. Also not too good acceleration.. Soo.. Nibali FTW!
Action: Monte Grappa will be the story of the day -- a 19km brute averaging 8% and topping out close enough to the line to matter. The mega-favorites might not attack each other much, given the magnitude of the coming stages, but on a climb like this the GC will at least start to take shape, and if there's a dominant winner, we should know by day's end.
Pageantry: It's business time at the 2010 Giro, as well as the 11th day without a rest and the day before Monte Zoncolan. For the usual frivolty, tune in to Giro Notte, or come back on the rest day.The Plan: Boy, you'd think they would have sorted out that tee-ball umpire's strike by now, wouldn't you? I mean, do they even have umpires in tee-ball? Ah well, what can you do?
The Monte Grappa, 40km from the finish line at an elevation of 1675m. The climb is 18.9km long and rises 1501m over that length, averaging 7.9% but maxing out at 14%. In fact, if you look at the climb detail published by Gazzetta, there is a full kilometer above 11%, immediately after il bivio di Campo Solagna. Naughty climb.
Here are the official materials from La Gazetta:
Here's PodiumCafe's Google Earth map file for Stage 14.