A long transition stage takes the Giro d’Italia down the western coast from Sapri to Tropea. There will be beaches! A few short climbs pop up along the way as the roads follow Italy’s rugged coast line, but mostly the stage is flat.
It is flat, at least, until the final three kilometers. After passing through a torturous series of curves, the course comes to the final climb. Switchbacking up precipitously from the coast in the style of the Poggio, this final climb is short and steep. The sprinters are crying into their cappuccinos at the sight of this profile. So much flat goodness ruined by a steep finishing climb. This stage is for the poachers, for the riders who can shoot out of the bunch and with a cheeky grin, steal the stage victory.
Stage Battle: This one is all about the final kilometers. It’s a long ride down the coast with only a few small climbs along the way. The scenery should be eye candy, the racing not so much. The Giro last finished in Tropea in 2005. Paolo Bettini won that day ahead of Robbie McEwen. McEwen mentioned earlier this week that this Tropea finish is not for the sprinters. Look for an attack on the final climb from a punchy, fast finishers. What? You want me to name one? Startlist! With Etna looming, it’s possible that the bunch will let a breakaway stay out there, but here’s hoping it’s gruppo compatto at the start of the final climb of the day. Boom! Attacks all around.
Maglia Rosa Matters: Nothing doing. The bigs of this Giro will be sitting in, resting the legs, and waiting for the volcano. Really, you just don’t get to wait for a volcano every day. There’s space for a sneak attack at the finish, but it’s hardly worth the effort with real climbing on the menu for Sunday.
Cue Opera For: The sprinters. This is a cruel, cruel finish for the sprinters. All day, it’s flat. Then, bam! The finale is not flat. Zomes, you are not nice.
Stage 8 Maps and Profile at La Gazzetta. (Click Altimetria for the profile.)
And with that, my friends, I say arrividerci to this Giro until the third week. I have a bike race to chase here in California. But don’t worry! I’ll come back soon! See you for the finale!