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Giro Stage 12 Preview: Sestri Levante - Riomaggiore (ITT)

Giro09-main_medium Stage 12 :: Thursday May 21, 2009
60.6km :: Sestri Levante - Riomaggiore

We arrive in the Cinque Terre for a lovely (read: nasty) 60km time trail.  This baby is far from flat... it is un-flat... it is totally devoid of flat.  It starts off with a 1m downhill from the start house and then turns immediatley up hill... goes downhill, serves a Capuccino, goes uphill again... and then goes downhill.

That's right, it's the Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore Individual Time Trial of the Centenary Giro d'Italia.

I cannot tell you how many times I've misread that as "Sastre Levante".

Girbecco says: This ITT is like the Coney Island Cyclone!

Psst... Gav... you're up...



This 60.6 kilometer time trial covers one of the most difficult crono courses in recent memory. The Giro organizers use the word “torment” in their description of its difficulties. The course follows the bumpy Ligurian coastline from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore. Cut into the side of the cliffs, the road follows the curves of the creased coastline where sheer cliffs drop down to the ocean. The red-roofed seaside towns cling barnacle-like to the steep hillsides terraced with vineyards. Beautiful country, pure and simple.

After his first look at the course back in January, Ivan Basso called it “a very difficult crono.” “It inspires fear,” he confided to Gazzetta dello Sport. There is very little space on this up-and-down course to recover. The riders will always be under pressure. “In my life, I have never seen a course so demanding,” concluded the Liquigas captain.

I don’t like to throw around the word epic lightly, and typically time trial courses don’t inspire a great deal of awe. But in truth, this stage has all the ingredients for an epic: eye-candy scenery, ridiculously difficult racing, and a potentially decisive moment for the general classification.

(Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 12 Preview at

Mille Grazzi.  On with the show...


The course starts with a 1 meter downhill, the ramp from the start house, and then immediately goes uphill.  Nasty, insidious, pick the adjective of your choice.


Up through the town of Bracco, to the Passo del Bracco (appropriately named, no?) at 613m.  It's 15.8km long (basically, the length from the start of the crono to the summit), and since the start was essentially at sea level, they riders will gain 604m in elevation of the 613m that comprise the Passo del Bracco.  It averages 3.6% with a max of 8%


Down hill now to the coast proper, aiming for the town of Levanto where the riders will stoke their burn boxes to steam up the second climb of the day, nearly immediately subsequent to the feed zone.


And now up again.  From Levanto to the Passo del Termine at 548m in height.


Again, since the riders were at sea level in Levanto, they will execute 537m elevation gain on the 548m Passo del Termine.  It's 8.8km in sum total climbing from Levanto with a 6.1% average and a maximum 10%.


Finally, it's a down hill approach to Riomaggiore.

One of the interesting things about this course, is how the team cars have to return to the start to shepherd their next rider about the course.  It's a nasty little inland run that goes through about a bajillion tunnels.  Look at the Gazzetta map here; it's the yellow be-tunneled road that will see 30 or so Directeurs Sportif driving like Mario Andretti in your Skodas.  I hope there will be at least a little coverage of that "race-within-a-race".

A copy of the Google Earth file used to create these images is available for download here.