What's It About?
The stage starts in the flatlands of the Po Valley, in the city of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region, and the first 200 kilomters of the course are about as piano (flat) as Italy gets. The last 25k or so of the profile is a bit rufflier, but they're not the sort of ruffles that are likely to affect the GC battle.
It's a largely south-to-north route, as the Giro heads toward the mountains for the traditional second-half sufferfest. Map:
The Bumpy Part
Since the Giro is coming to my (new) neck of the woods, I went out the week before the race and rode the last 25 kilometers of the route. This is the area where I first fell in love with Veneto cycling, and the last 45 minutes or so of this stage will give you a nice taste of the lovely biking terrain around here.
You'll know they're getting close to the start of the first climb at Maser when they start showing helicopter shots of Villa Barbaro, aka Villa di Maser.
The villa was designed in by Andrea Palladio in 1554, and completed a few years later. Palladio, often described as the most influential figure in the history of western architecture, hailed from nearby Vicenza, and his 24 surviving villas, collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are all found in the Veneto region.
A few hundred meters from the villa, the climb to Forcella Mostaccin begins. The three-kilometer, category four ramp carries the only GPM (Gran Premi della Montagna) points of the stage. Here's the profile:
As a sign at the base of the base of the climb notes, this nifty little climb packs 10 hairpins (tornanti) into its 2.9-kilometer length.
Here are a couple of them:
The second tornante pictured comes in the climb's steep last kilometer. Were it closer to the finish, this testing final k, followed by a technical descent on a narrow road, could be a tempting playground for the likes of Nibali or Valverde.
As it is, though, the descent is followed by about 12 kilometers of gently undulating terrain through scenic farm country.
That takes us to the base of the final short climb to the hilltown of Asolo. To mark the Giro's arrival, they've put up signs showing the stats for each of the half-dozen or so approach climbs to the town. Here's the one for the race route:
So, not exactly the Mortirolo. A pretty little climb, though.
At the top, there's a steep little ramp into the town.
The riders will pass Villa Cipriani, once the home of the poet Robert Browning, and now a hotel, then tackle the final steep, cobbled pitch.
It's a quick trip through the charming town center, and then an uncomplicated descent to the final, flat kilometer on a wide road.
AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings
Le Fraghe Rodòn - Chiaretto: Pink Giro wine.
Two grapes in this one, Corvina and Rondinella. My tasting notes say Crisp strawberry.
Food: Gnocco Fritto because it is one of the Giro picks. Essentially fried bread, often served with cured meat. I had mine at one of my favorite SF restaurants, Delfina.
Pick to Win
Enrico Battaglin. Local boy Battaglin should know these roads like the back of his hand, and his fifth place on stage 7 shows he's on good form.