Stage 5 :: Wednesday May 13, 2009
125km :: San Martino di Castrozza to Alpe di Siusi
The mountain run continues with a trip from San Martino di Castrozza to Alpe di Siusi. Somehow, by brain refuses to processes "Siusi" as "See-oo-see", but rather as "Sweesee" as though there might be some sort of cheese at the finish. Admittedly, the stage finish is up in the north of Italy, almost equidistant from the Austrian and Swiss borders but then I am not Will, and I don't ride for Gruyère so Italy it remains, and Siusi it will have to be.
An astonishing thing is happening tonight in San Martino di Castrozza; the Giro rolled into town and stayed! That's right, there isn't a transfer tonight. The riders head off from the same town they started in, which is, at this point, fairly unprecedented.
But what know I (not much, I can guarantee you), so let's hand it over to the experts to explain what we're looking at today... Gavia, tell us what's behind door number 3...
Another day of climbing awaits the bunch for Stage 5, the second day in the mountains. The course travels through Trentino and the South Tirol regions, in the far North of Italy near the borders with Austria and Switzerland. This is ski town and vineyard country in the main. The terrain is mountainous, with deep glacier cut valleys, thickly forested mountainsides, and all around the crenellated peaks of the Italian Alps.
The Dolomiti stages come early in the race this year, and it is unlikely that these stages will decide the Giro. But certainly, they will matter. A bad day in the high mountains may not end the hopes of a rider hoping to wear the maglia rosa in Roma, but it will complicate his chances significantly.
Profile Details. The profile for Stage 5 traces out a lopsided grin, with a short climb, long descent, and long finishing climb. The stage begins where the previous day left off in the ski town of San Martino di Castrozza. The riders face a rude awakening: it’s an uphill start over the Passo Rolle.
(Courtesy of Gavia's stage 5 preview at Steephill.tv)
We start off with a southerly start and there ain't no rest for the wicked as from the moment the riders crawl out of bed and stand up, they are going uphill.
That's right, Jane, not only is it a summit finish, but it's a start at the beginning of the first climb of the day, the Passo Rolle.
The Passo Rolle, 1972m in altitude, is a quick, nasty 8.2km stretch with a 474m vertical ascent. The average gradient is 5.8% with a maximum of 9%. Good morning riders!
After that hot morning cup of suffering, it's time for the cake and coffee portion of the stage with a nice swooping downhill towards a valley run through the cities of Predazzo, Cavalese and Ora (among others).
Ora is somewhat of a breather as there aren't downhill bends to negotiate, nor pavement bending up from the racers. It's nice and flat for a little section. And I mean little.
Just enough time for whoever is out in front to try to leap for the intermediate sprint bonus at Bolzano (is that paid in Lire? if it's an Italian, do they win a years supply of San Marzano canned tomatos?)
Finally, sprint in hand, it's time to hand it back over to the slender boys as Prato all'Isarco looms with it's climb up to Alpe di Siusi.
The village of Siusi is about 2/3rds of the way up the climb and provides a sort of false flat of civilization, before the final third. That final third containing, of course, the 11% max gradient for this climb.
Alpe di Siusi lies at 1844m elevation with a total length of 25km as measured from Parto all'Isarco to Alpe di Siusi (that's 15 miles baby), ascending 1513m with an average gradient of 6.1% and a maximum of 11%
If you would like to download a copy of the Google Earth file I used to create these images, feel free to download it here.