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Giro d'Italia: On the scene at stage 19

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There's been a lot of riding in the rain at this year's Giro, for racers and bike tourists alike, and yesterday was no exception.  We started out from our hotel in Iseo for the 70-kilometer ride to the finishing climb at Monte Pora under a cloudy sky.  The rain began just as the road started to turn up, about half way through our ride. 

Our route went over the Passo della Presolana, the penultimate climb of the race stage.  I knew it would be steep, with an 8.2% average grade, but at least it wouldn't be too long, at only 4.8 kilometers.  What I hadn't taken into account was that since we were starting at 200 meters elevation in Iseo, we would have a good deal of uphill riding to get to the point where we would join the race route at the base of the climb to Passo della Presolana, which was at 900 meters elevation.

It was a hard ride, but beautiful.  The Presolana climb itself wasn't so scenic -- though perhaps it might have been without the low clouds and rain -- but the ride up to the base of the climb was spectacular.  The road followed a roaring mountain river, all rapids and waterfalls, through a rock-walled canyon.  If it hadn't been raining, I would have had a lot of excuses to stop and take pictures (and catch my breath).

The first few kilometers of the Presolana climb itself were vicious.  There were three stretches marked "14%," and the rest wasn't much better.

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The last kilometer was easier, and then, after a quick photo at the pass, came a pretty fun downhill, made trickier by the wet road.

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I had been planning to ride most of the way up Monte Pora, to see the race near the finish line.  My plans changed when I ran into one of our tour-group guides in Dorga, the town at the base of Monte Pora.  He said no one else in our group wanted to ride up Monte Pora, so he asked me not to go up very far, so the others wouldn't have to wait for me to come down after the race.

So, I just went up about a kilometer, and watched from there.  We weren't far from Savoldelli's hometown of Bergamo, and his tifosi had been out in force, decorating Dorga with "Il Falco" banners.

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I didn't want to have my camera out for long in the wet, so I only took a few pictures of the race.  Here's one of Kiryienka, the stage winner:

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Here's the maglia rosa group:

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          Susie Hartigan for Podium Cafe