Stage 17 :: Wednesday May 27, 2009
83km :: Chieti - Blockhaus
No, the game's not over! The Summit finish on Blockhaus awaits on Wednesday, with a climb that starts at sea level and ends at 1674m (5,492') above that mark.
This could be an epic marked battle between Sastre and Menchov (please oh please oh please). Who knows what sort of recovery can be gained by the combatants in this last rest day.
Girbecco says: From hell's heart I stab at thee...
I redirect your attention Gaviawards...
The course follows an upside down “J” shape, and takes place in the Abruzzo region. This is Danilo Diluca country, and the former Giro winner comes from Spoleto, northwest of Chieti. It is also near l’Aquila, whose population recently suffered a disastrous earthquake. Diluca is raising money during this Giro to aid in recovery efforts.
The start town of Chieti is one of the “originals.” The Maiella and Gran Sasso mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to Chieti, which has frequently played host to the Giro d’Italia. The city hosted the finish of the second stage of the 1909 Giro d’Italia, a stage that began in Bologna and covered 378 kilometers. Giovanni Cuniolo celebrated victory after a long day out. For this Giro Centenario, Chieti is the starting point for a short, difficult stage into the high coastal mountains of Abruzzo.
We are still in the Appenino, and here the mountain range ventures near to the Adriatic, sitting just over 30 kilometers from the coast. The stage finishes on the Maiella, a large chunk of limestone mountainy goodness, which towers above Pescara and the surrounding landscape. A national park, Parco nazionale della Maiella, embraces the mountains and contains 2100 species of plants, approximately a third of the varieties found in the entirety of Italy. The finish on the Blockhaus, which carries the name of a German fortification on the mountain, lies
2064 metersabove sea level. (ed: I'm guessing that Gav wrote this before the stage was shortened and the climb now ends at 1674m)
(as with the Monte Petrano stage, Gav's Stage 17 Preview at Steephill.tv is very extensive; consider it required reading.)
Thanks Gav, I think there's a gift card to ZJ's Boardinghouse around here somewhere.
The profile for this stage looks like the profit projections graphs of all the little internet startups I used to evaluate back in '99 / 2000 before the bust; a hockey stick laying on it's spine. The overview shows us the route heading from Chieti to the Adriatic, running along the coast and then heading inland straight to (well noodling around a little before hand but generally heading straight to) the Blockhaus climb.
Surprisingly, the start is actually downhill, as opposed to the "let's send them skyward from the start" entr'actes that we have become used to. (Don't mind the little jink out to the left there at Sambuceto; it's a mapping artifact).
At that bend in the distance, the percorso nearly get's the rider's feet wet, taking it almost to the beach before making the inland turn.
Villamagna. Great name, "Great House" in latin (I think). The intermediate sprint also has a latinate name, "Fara Filiorum Petri".
Here you see the little noodling around the course does around Rapino.
Now, for the climb. Engage Mood Lighting! The modified Blockhaus finish is at 1674m with an official distance of 18km (although the riders started at the Adriatic over 60km away). This climb covers a vertical gain of 1240m in that 18km span, averaging 6.9% on the way with a max of 13%, just down at the bottom.
That 13% max gradient HAS to be the last possibly place that Sastre can launch a do or die attack to win this, and he would have to haul some major tuckus up that climb in order to gain the Maglia Rosa. Doubtful, I know... doubtful.
It almost looks like Google Earth grabbed recent images of the Blockhaus, because when I first mapped this out before the Giro started, the satellite showed a clean drive all the way to the original finish (which included a nasty little 11% section). Now the finish line is pretty much where the snow obscures the road.
A copy of the Google Earth file used to create these images is available for download here.