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Giro d'Italia Stage 6 Preview: Middle Mountains!

Giro-main_medium The Giro d'Italia continues its journey southward with this stage 6 running from Urbino to Port Sant'Elpidio. The race followed a jagged course over four categorized climbs to finish again on the Adriatic Coast. Bikini alert!

The riders will have no time for bikini-watching during this finish. This stage is classic Italian racing punctuated by short, punchy climbs. The Montelupone, with its 15% gradients, pops up at around 50 kilometers to go. It's the first of a series of climbs as the race approaches the coastline. Drop a rock in your espresso, and the ripple pattern you get, that's about what this stage profile looks like near the finish. As we saw with stage 5, sometimes the uncategorized climbs are the hardest, and the riders will be studying their road books carefully tonight.

The final categorized climb, Montegranardo, comes with around 25 kilometers left to race. It's less than two kilometers in length, but the maximum gradient is 18%. Ah, Italia, you do know how to do this climbing thing, don't you.

This stage won't do the sprinters any favors - they'll likely be calling for the gruppetto when the race hits the category 3 climb in Cingou after 95 kilometers of racing. It should be a gruppo ristretto at the finish, and really it's a good day for a cheeky move from one of the general classification riders, if someone is feeling frisky. It's also a good day to join the early break in the hope of staying way to the finish.

I'd expect to see Liquigas-Cannondale in firm control of the race over the later climbs in this stage as they were during Thursday's romp into Fano. Will they let the break stick? Or, mercilessly chase it down? My macchiato isn't telling.

Expect Garmin-Barracuda also to take an interest in the finale of this stage. Ryder Hesjedal sits 11 seconds off the race lead, while Christian Vande Velde is eighth at :26. And looky there at the rider in ninth: Joaquín Rodríguez sits 30 seconds off the race lead, and he is no doubt smiling at the looks of tomorrow's stage profile. Montelupone, so very tasty.

Here is the current Giro d'Italia general classification.