Stage 16 :: Monday May 25, 2009
237km :: Pergola - Monte Petrano
"Moria... You fear to go into those mines. The dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum... shadow and flame."
That's right, there's a city called Moria on tomorrow's stage. It's so very appropos because this stage brings shadow and flame aplenty. 237km long, that's almost 150 miles. It has four rated climbs including the 876m vertical climb of the Monte Catria and the 1025m vertical gain of the Monte Nerone. To top it all off, it ends with a summit finish on the Monte Petrano on Cagli.
If I wasn't hanging from a rock face by a rope while this stage was being broadcast tomorrow, I'd be glued to Universal. It's like a mini-Blockhaus, just to get you ready for the rest day, where all you will think about... is the maxi-Blockhaus on Wednesday (and poor timing of vacation on my part).
Girbecco says: I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun! Go back to the shadow. You... shall not... pass!
Before we get started, I just want to show you the last third of this course (right over there on the left). I'm going to refer to this as Six Flags over Pianello because it's a roller coaster fest with the final three climbs all hitting you one, after another, after another in an isolated section of ridgelines and mountains. It is, in a word, beautiful.
In that little section of Italy, you're seeing 2725m of climbing, nearly 3km worth. That converts to 8,940 vertical feet. That's nearly nine HUNDRED stories, over eight times the height of the Empire State Building. How nice that they saved this one for Memorial Day! Bellisimo! Is that the word? I'm not certo, but this stage makes me gioioso!
Now I just know that Gavia has something to say about this one...
More mountains, oh my! Stage 16 heads into the mountains in the province of Pesaro-Urbino, not far from the Adriatic Coast. Here, rugged limestone peaks pockmarked with caves and sinkholes created by water run-off tower over the surrounding landscape. The stage summits four major climbs in rapid succession. Only the climbers will be smiling at the end of the day.
The stage sets off from the city of Pergola, set in the Cesano river valley. Pergola has cultivated vineyards since antiquity and is known especially for its white wine, Tristo di Montesecco. Vintners in Pergola retain their traditional practices, producing in small batches, and each July the city celebrates an annual wine festival. This year will mark the 308th edition of the festival. From Pergola, it’s all mountains to the finish, and the final climb of the day lies just outside the city of Cagli, which sits at the confluence of the Bosso and Burano rivers.
If there are any flat kilometers in this stage 16, I certainly don’t see them. Instead, the course climbs and descends constantly, with four difficult climbs on the profile. The finish line perches at 1101 meters above sea level on the Monte Petrano.
(Her write up is even more in depth beyond the excerpt above, I highly recommend you have a look at her Stage 16 Preview at Steephill.tv.)
Yep... I bet Gav's exhausted just typing about it! I went a little happy with the Google on this one so get ready for a bevy of graphics. We begin in Pergola and head north, curling around counter clockwise and tying a neat little knot around Pianello (by Cerreto), doing a loop over a mountain and then going south east.
Yep, it must be the 2009 Giro. Uphill almost from the start.
This may look a little chunky, but looking over it, it seems as though the goat path they are riding on, passes over a ridgeline and is maybe, maybe rolling at worst. Take your break now boys...
They curl and approach Fossombrone, beginning the climb to the Monte delle Cesane, 628m in height.
It's an elevation gain of 512m over 7.7km. Not too terribly long, but like many of the climbs over these past few stages, it's 6.6% average gradient and 18% max! Ouch! The 18% section is right at the beginning on the approach out of Fossombrone. If this was the last climb, I'd say launching pad, but since it's the first, I'll say shared suffering. Over the top it's down to Canavaccio for a bit of a respite.
When I saw this, I thought "My God Zomegnan is a cruel, cruel man". Then I realized, it's a tunnel.
Down into Acqualagna for a couple of frosty Peroni and then a right turn to head off to Six Flags over Pianello...
At Piobbico, the riders will skirt the base of the mountain ridge they climb on the back. There is a bit of a climb at the turn, just to get them a nice view of their future torture.
They curve around the southern tip of the mountain, passing through Pianello for the first time on this circuit, and continue to the right, up in between the alluvial fans to start the switchbacks up through Cerreto to the summit of Monte Nerrone at 1417m.
Monte Nerone is the highest point of elevation the riders will achieve today. The climb is 13.4km long, rising a vertical distance of over a full kilometer at 1025m, averaging 7.6% and maxing out at 12%. Somewhere I just heard CycleChallenge Will make notes and add something to a To Do list.
From the looks of Gazzetta's Altimetry, the descent back to Pianello via Serravalle di Carda is slightly longer than the descent, about 19km as opposed to 12km. So it's only slightly less gnarly coming down than it was going up. Through P
The rider's will try to avoid a fight with the Balrog as they pass through Moria, known throughout Middle Earth as the greatest mine for the production of Mithril, the substance used to build the current crop of Time Trial rigs. (At this point, most of our foreign speaking members are probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about.).
The distance from Pianello to Moria to Chiaserna, is not very long at all, about 16km. (I should point out that about 5km out from Chiaserna, there is an Intermediate Sprint in the town of Cantiano that somehow didn't make it into Google Earth.) Now it's time to turn again and begin the climb to Monte Catria, 1368m. From Chiaserna to the summit is an elevation gain of 876m over an 11km length. It averages 8.0% with a maximum gradient of 13% that hits you about 1km from the summit.
Talk about a swooping descent! I think Valentino Rossi and Marco Simoncelli would probably be scraping knees on this thing.
Again, not much of a chance to catch the breath between the descent to Colombara, and the start of the final climb in Cagli.
The summit finish at Monte Petrano lies at 1101m. It is a 10.4km long climb from the base in Cagli, rising 824m. It averages 7.9% with it's nasty 13% maximum gradient coming in right at the bottom. This is the last climb of the day so... may I say now... launching pad? Probably not. That's what Wednesday is for.
A copy of the Google Earth file used to create these images is available for download here.