Stage 8 :: Saturday May 16, 2009
209km :: Morbegno - Bergamo
Wow, this stage has a definite chance to be astonishingly beautiful (provided the weather takes a turn for the better). It's loaded with lakes, heavy with hills, and... uh... something else that uses alliteration.
Morbegno is the start, Bergamo is the finish, in between, we have two KOM spots and Lago Como. Is there a little Lombardia in my Giro? I think so... I hope so. I just wish there was a little Cricket in my Giro too, but that's just me, your mileage may vary :)
Como! Bergamo! Morbegno! Oh my!
Come on Gavia... big money, big money, big money!
The Giro is now in the Lombardia region, and stage 8 begins in the city of Morbegno, which sits in the shadow of the Alps. Franco Ballerini won a 1991 Giro stage here. From the start, it is a bumpy ride to the main climb of the day, the Culmine di San Pietro. A second significant climb, the Colle de Gallo, comes with 27 kilometers to go to the finish.
The stage passes through Bergamo, makes a loop, then finishes in the Città alta, the walled old city, which sits on a hill overlooking the modern Bergamo Bassa. The old city of Bergamo is one of four walled cities in Italia. (Lucca, Grosseto and Ferrara are the other three, for those playing along at home.) An inclined railway, a funicular, connects the red-roofed Città alta with the modern city below. There is a short, steep climb within the final 4 kilometers of the stage, followed by a descent to the finish.
Bergamo has a long history of hosting Giro finishes and many famous names have celebrated victories in this northern city. Winners in Bergamo include: Diego Marabelli in 1938, Oreste Conte in 1952, Felice Gimondi (ahead of Eddy Merckx) in 1976, and Giuseppe Saronni in a semi-tappa in 1983. In 2008, the city hosted the Italian National Championship road race, which Filippo Simeoni of Ceramica Flaminia won.
(Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 8 Preview at Steephill.tv)
Thanks Gav, there's lasagna in the kitchen.
It's a sort of circuitous, overlapping route, so hold on and lets go for a ride.
From Morbegno, we head due west, heading like un fleche, straight over to Lago Como, where the route bends southward on the eastern shore, towards Dervio. I tried to look up a route for this year's Giro di Lombardia, but I can't find one. I have a feeling there's a lot of overlap in this first section of the course, though.
About half of the way down the lake side, the course turns south east, moving back into the hills / mountains towards Cortenova.
At Barzio, we begin the first rated climb of the day, the Culmine di San Pietro at 1254m elevation. The climb is 13km long with a total of 618m of elevation gain at an average gradient of 4.8%. It maxes out at 11% at some point, but the map at La Gazzetta doesn't show where that is.
Down, down to Sedrina now, where the riders will pick up their food. As this is the Giro d'Italia, I've replaced the regular Knife and Fork icon, with a mug of frothy Capuccino.
Now we make a run around the hills east of Bergamo. Down and around to the south east to Sarnico and up the western shore of Lago d'Iseo (looks like there's a pretty little island in the middle of that lake by the way)
The parcourse curves counterclockwise (anticlockwise for you theatre/colour types) and moves around to the Lago di Endine going to the second climb of the day the Colle del Gallo (763m), all 6.2km of it.
The Colle del Gallo has a MASSIVE 435m elevation gain but a respectable 7% average gradient with an 11% max.
Down, down and around on beautifully named roads like the Via Pietro Locatelli (born in Bergamo) and the Via Dante Alighieri.
A copy of the Google Earth file used to create these images is available for download here.