Stage 10: Campi Bisenzio -- Sestola, 219km
Back in action... possibly with some action!
What's It about?
Rolling around Tuscany, and over the border into Emilia-Romagna. From a high point or a heli you can maybe see the welcomed relief of the flat Po Valley, but the race will only peek down onto the plains, before spinning back into and around the upper Appennines. It's a day in the hills.
These northern areas confound me about what to say. I sort of picture the history of Tuscany being sitting around making wine for 3000 years and generally enjoying life, while the Romans or other invading tribes made life miserable for people further south. That said, Rome certainly left its imprint on these towns, and there are lots of sites to see. But this is a more rural stage featuring pleasant country roads winding over small climbs and passing through small-to-medium-sized villages of carying antiquity.
For several days the Giro has been racing northward as quickly as possible. This stage continues that trend until it reaches Vignola, where it doubles back south like it forgot its collective wallet at the last feed zone a couple hours ago.
But that maneuver is for sporting purposes, I can assure you.
And of course, there's the last chapter, where all the drama will be resolved.
Whoa... 3km at 5%. With a 7% ramp! Terrifying stuff... if you're on a track bike. But this shouldn't bother people too much in and of itself. A better question is whether these three km, coming after the Pian del Falco just before, and in general being a very long day in the saddle, causes a lot of riders to come unstuck from the peloton against the wishes of their team. Lots of riders will be happy to come unstuck, but stages like this have a habit of putting a GC contender or two in a spot of bother, and certainly not everyone who dreams of winning this stage will come into the final km with a chance. The Pian del Falco, incidentally, rates just behind the Roccaraso climb of Wellens winning fame, if that gives it enough perspective.
So yeah, intriguing one. Oh, and the weather should be an improvement over the last few days.
Riders of Interest
Paging Dr. Ulissi, Dr. Ulissi to the peloton, stat. Is he the only guy for this stage? Certainly not. It's getting a bit tiresome of me trotting out the usual climby/sprinty suspects, so let's just utter the names Ulissi, Wellens, Colbrelli, Pirazziand Visconti, Siutsou, and add in some outsider types like Cadrius (Blel Kadri),* Betancur, Moser, Txurruka, Firsanov, etc. Oh, and if nobody does anything then Valverde will finally take a win.
Will the GC guys trade blows? Hard to predict. Certainly if anyone appears to be in trouble, the scent of blood will ring in the noses of the top teams, who should at least make things a bit hard at the end just to test people. But no one team will want to do all the lifting, and a circular stare-down/stalemate is not hard to imagine. And anyway, it's entirely possible everyone will be marking everyone else comfortably enough to dissuade the Bigs from lifting a finger. We'll see. At a minimum, the teams not named Movistar will want to take the time bonuses off the board.
* If anyone has time, I do believe Wikipedia needs help correcting the oversight around what will always be Kadri's rather splendid nickname.
AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings
Wine: Vigneto Saetti Lambrusco
Sparkling ruby red. Very dry with sour cherries and flowers. Really came alive when paired with the Bolognese.
Food: Bolgonese again, because I needed more for my freezer stash. As always, the Marcella Hazan is my base recipe. This time I skipped the carrots and added a few leftover oven dried and frozen tomatoes.
Pick to Win
Tough one. Ulissi is close enough on GC that he won't get room to maneuver until the final km. There are plenty of other climber/puncheur types who are 10+ minutes down, which means they can escape on the Pian del Faclo without drawing a reaction. So I'll go in another direction. Przemislaw Niemiec! Lampre need stage wins before the real action, and Niemiec can leave Ulissi to his own devices over these final not-terribly-hard climbs.