Stage 10 :: Tuesday May 19, 2009
262km :: Cuneo to Pinerolo
(Ed: ok, it's updated with that pesky third climb now)
Well, that's enough rest for you, I hope you spent enough time on the bike today "relaxing" because we've got some doozie's in the works for you.
Behold stage 10, starting in Cuneo and tying a crazy knot around the mountains including the great and beloved Sestrière (climbing from the west to the east) and ending in the beloved (by Jimbo) Pinerolo.
Having spent the weekend in the mountains myself, I've come to appreciate what it's like just to hike a 6.5% gradient over 8km let alone race it. So follow me and my Garmont Flash 3 XCRs below the fold...
Preview! Gavia! Details!
From Cuneo, the course takes a jaunt through the mountains, and finishes in Pinerolo. The finishing city sits in the foothills on the Chisone river, a tributary of the Po, the river that runs the width of Northern Italy to the Adriatic. The bell tower of the cathedral, set on a hill, dominates Pinerolo’s skyline. The city was originally an important fortress for the Dukes of Savoy, and has a long military tradition. Pinerolo appears also in the creation story of modern Italy: In 1821, a precursor to the risorgimento movement emerged in Pinerolo. More recently, it was a center of the Italian resistance during World War II.
This stage celebrates one of the great exploits of Italian cycling, the 1949 victory of Fausto Coppi after a 190 kilometer-long solo breakaway. That year, the stage included a daunting succession of five major climbs: Colle della Maddalena (Col de Larche in French), Col de Vars, Col d’Izoard, the Monginevro, and Sestrière. Coppi attacked on the first climb of the day, the colle della Maddalena. He finished nearly 12 minutes ahead of his great rival Gino Bartali. The “first of the humans,” Alfredo Martini came in 20 minutes behind il Campionissimo.
In their time, Coppi and Bartali represented competing visions of Italian identity. As Italy struggled to rebuild the body and soul of its nation from the period of war and occupation, many commentators wrote the anxieties of the time onto the races between Italy’s two great riders. They portrayed Coppi, who came from Italy’s industrial North, as the embodiment of Italy’s future, a champion who trained scientifically for his time and embraced the modern age. Bartali stood for old Italy, for the pious and the traditional. The photo of the two riding side-by-side sharing a water bottle during the 1952 Tour de France became an icon of their shared history in cycling and in the Italian imagination.
(Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 10 Preview at Steephill.tv)
Here we are right on up in the belly of Italy (technically, the beer gut that hangs over the rather shapely boot).
It's fairly easy going actually, when we start off in Cuneo, we progress over fields and relatively flat roadway until we reach Cumiana.
Now the fun begins, if having your legs tried after a rest day is fun, as we start the climbs with this very small, unrated and unnamed beasty that curls around to the first feed zone in Avigliana (which is actually quite fun to say out loud, try it!)
Better munch that banana fast because you're heading upstairs now. The big white spot is a set of clouds that Google Earth didn't know what to do with, so it set it as a gigantic bird plop right on the course route.
Through Bussoleno to Susa. Here we tie the square knot at the top of the boot laces, by passing up, over and around, the climb to Moncenisio at 1432m.
Cruel, these race organizers are; they essentially decided "let's add a climb here by hinking the race course north a bit". Several (ok, like a dozen) switchbacks and a 14% max gradient later, the peloton will realize, it's not a rest day anymore. The climb to Moncenisio is 10.2km long with an 812m elevation gain. That's averaging 8% over the distance with a nasty little 14% stretch at the top of the hairpins.
It's a spaghetti descent that really, really makes no sense to me, but the riders will go back through Susa, make a hard right, and head to the intermediate sprint at Oulx. I can't even begin to guess how to pronounce that correctly... so I'm just going to pronounce it Edgar.
From Edgar, it's up to Cesana Torinese for the last capucinno of the day and quick brush by France (but not into), and drink that cap fast, because you hit the 11% max gradient up to the summit at Sestrière almost immediately.
Sestrière; 2035m. In this direction it is 11.2km, rising 701m averaging 6.3% with a max of 11% at the beginning.
It's all descent then, around the rather picturesque mountains, down, down, down into Pinerolo again (the opening section of the race course has been hidden in this pic to, hopefully, clarify what's going down.)
(Ed: uhhh... let's try this again)
The fun's not over yet! Surprise, there's a THIRD climb today, the Fra' Martino only 15km from the finish
Through the town of Villar Perosa in the valley, the riders make a left and climb the valley wall up to the Fra' Martino. This climb is 6.8km long, going up 416m in elevation with a medio of 6.2% and a maximo of 12%.
Then, finally, over the Fra' Martino, it's all descent down, down, down into Pinerolo again :)
A copy of the (updated) Google Earth file used to create these images is available for download here. I'll study my Planimetria a little more closely next time.