Stage 7 :: Friday May 15, 2009
244km :: Innsbruck - Chiavenna
Luigi Ferrara: "The snow this year is better in Innsbruck"
James Bond: "But not at St. Moritz"
Any time I get to make a connection between Cycling and James Bond, well, it promises to be a good day, even though the phone systems are down here at work and I'd like to beat the telco provider over the noggin with a derailleur. Fortunately, I now have the mental image of Bond kicking the Mercedes over the cliff, with Locque still in it, to keep me warm.
Anyway, about the bike race, we cross two borders tomorrow, and aren't you curious as to which they are? There are so many to choose from in Europe! Satiate your border-bent curiosity by clicking into the main story...
The answer? Austria to Switzerland (there's the Suisi I was lookin' for), then Switzerland back into Italia. Lots of tunnels in Stage 7 too, although nothing nearly as compelling as the 5km long Felbertauern Tunnel from Stage 6.
Hey, Gav, what's the deal with this one?
The majority of this stage is uphill, before a fast descent to a flat finish. From Innsbruck, the riders will climb steadily a total of 1200 meters over 190 kilometers, summiting at the Passo del Maloja. Along the way, the course passes through the Swiss resort town of St. Moritz. There are KOM points on offer at the top of the Passo del Maloja, 1815 meters above sea level. From the top of the Passo del Maloja, the riders face a steep, switchbacking descent to Chiavenna. The descent drops 1400 meters in 23 kilometers.
The finish in Chiavenna follows four kilometers of mostly flat road. Here, the Giro enters Lombardia, and Chiavenna sits 16 kilometers from the tip of Lake Como. The city of Milano lies 100 kilometers Southwest from the stage finish, and no doubt a few riders will be wishing that this Giro was headed toward its traditional finishing stage in Milano.
(Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 7 Preview at Steephill.tv)
Thanks Gav. There are bagels in the kitchen.
Behold... OVERVIEW. We start in the northeast and run down towards the southwest. As Gav says above, this course is really uphill for about the first 2/3rds. It's like one loooong false flat that extends across three countries.
From Innsbruck, we head through the valleys to Landeck, making a turn southish and then westish again to the Austrian-Swiss border (the white arrow).
Just past the border is the feed zone in Martina, Switzerland. Maybe there's some Red Bull in the Musette to give the riders wings.
Curling through the mountain valleys, the peloton will finally get to St. Moritz and it's Intermediate Sprint on the shores of the aptly named "Sankt Mortizersee" (St. Moritz Lake).
Once through the sprint, it's just a little quick hop to the summit of the day at Passo Maloja. This little gem is 22.9 km long with a 111m elevation gain. It only averages 0.5% gradient over it's length but it does have a maximum of 8%. Peanuts compared to Stage 6. The interesting thing is, that once you're over the pass, the course drops off a cliff. Look at that...
Carrying all that speed downhill (oh Savoldelli, how we miss you Il Falco), the riders will head into Chiavenna, crossing first back into Italy from Switzerland.
The finishing course is a little simplified here, due to my inability to appropriately understand the Italian time tables La Gazetta publishes. Essentially, they will blast past Chiavenna, then make a couple of lefts and come back up to the north east and end on the Via Nazionale in town. Chiavenna is Italian for "Venetian Chia Pet"
A copy of the Google Earth file used to create these images is available for download here.