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Giro Stage 6 Preview: Orvieto-Fiuggi, 216 km

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The Giro d’Italia leaves the hilltop town of Orvieto and continues its southward journey. The stage finishes in Fiuggi after a long, gradual climb. At 216 kilometers, this stage is impressively long, and it looks like a lovely day for a breakaway. The terrain runs all up and down, which will also not do the chasers any favors. The final 18 kilometers climbs gradually, hitting 4-5% in spots, then the road runs flat for around 400 meters to the finish.

Fiuggi is another of Italy’s hilltop towns, and became famous as early as the 14th century for its mineral water. Michelangelo claimed that the town’s waters cured him of a kidney stone. Forests of chestnut trees surround the city. It all looks remarkably similar to the stage start in Orvieto. Podium Cafe Giro d'Italia

Stage Battle: The Giro organizers call this stage a middle mountain stage, and indeed, the stage profile is rather bumpy. Though they will sting the legs, none of these climbs are especially selective. The uphill finish might eliminate some of the pure sprinters, but it is unlikely to blow up the race.

Expect a break to go early on this one, and they will have a reasonable chance of surviving to the finish. It does not seem likely that Rabobank will empty themselves to to defend the race lead of Peter Weening, but stranger things have happened. With Marco Pinotti sitting just 2 seconds off the maglia rosa, HTC-Highroad may decide to take a hand in the chase. If the bunch chooses to chase in earnest or only allows two or three riders to escape, it should be a sizable group at the finish.

Maglia Rosa Matters: For the general classification, this stage is a classic transition stage. Sit in, save energy, wait for the hard racing to come. They won’t have to wait long, for the first mountain-top finish of the Giro arrives on Friday. The climb to the Montevirgene di Marcogliano is not especially difficult relative to the high mountains later in this Giro, but it’s not a good day for bad legs. Watch for the general classification riders and teams to be mostly uninterested in contributing to the bike racing on the jaunt to Fiuggi.

Cue Opera For: If Rabobank and HTC-Highroad decide to put the race on lockdown, it’s a long, hard day out for the two or three riders allowed to go on the breakaway. At least they get some tv time and their moms will be happy.

Stage 6 Maps and Profile at La Gazzetta. (Click Altimetria for the profile.)