Stage 13: Palmanova - Cividale del Friuli 170 km
Happy playtime is over. This is when things get serious. I think we may even have to bring in a guest commenter to tell us what's what:
"The Giro starts now"
What's It About?
We have reached the north of Italy and now we start to make our way across the country. The journey starts here in Friuli before we cross into Trentino and the Dolomite mountains. Then the race will dash southwest across the Po plain again to reach the mountains on the border to France in Piemonte. Friuli is probably the least explored area of these for the Giro and when we've come here lately it has usually been to visit the brutish Monte Zoncolan. This time though the race will go to the area closest to the border with Slovenia to find some less crazy but steep and challenging climbs.
Here is a "special" preview of what we can expect.
The Giro basically takes a "Tour of Flanders" labyrinth route in order to hit the best bits of mountain in the area. There is nothing transport about today, this is all about maximum difficulty in the given amount of kilometers.
While we will come to bigger mountains later in the week this stage offers some of the steepest we'll see. And perhaps more importantly, this will be a mountain stage that might be as much about difficult descents as it will be about hard climbs. Steep and technical is how the roads here have been described so we'll see if that holds true and if anyone is keen to make use of that.
What may put a damper on the action today, perhaps making a breakaway the likely stage winner, could be the fact that the next stage has a massive amount of climbing on the menu. The "Maratona dles Dolomites" stage is much advertised and rightly so as it looks daunting. Teams may be want to save themselves for that if we are unlucky. If someone wants to use a more sneak-attack approach though the Friuli stage is obviously the place to do it. But for that last, slightly too long, bit of flat this has all the hallmarks of an Astana/Nibali attack day if they are ready and willing to commit this early.
Riders to Watch
First of all we should see an introduction to the ones who are really serious about the KOM jersey on this stage. Look for perhaps guys like Cunego, Anton, Pirazzi and maybe Nieve and Kudus too. I'm not entirely sure who to throw into this mix, KOM contenders are rarely obvious until suddenly they are. Trying to predict who is a KOM contender is like trying to figure out which of your friends is going to order Swedish meatballs in the great asian restaurant. You never really know who the weirdos are until they reveal themselves.
That said I think we might see someone like Niemec or perhaps our surprise hero Primoz Roglic come out on top on a stage like this. Roglic is probably never going to ride a GT closer to home than this and he is clearly on some fine form so why not make the most of it? I don' t think LottoNL-Jumbo would be mean enough to hold him back to help Kruijswijk at this point and if they are I don't expect any LottoNL-Jumbo rider to be disciplined enough to pay attention to such orders. It's always good to have a guy up the road who can drop back to help if needed, amirite?
AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings
Wine: Rodaro Refosco 12 From the importer: While our family history dates back centuries, it is a notary deed from 1846 that marks the beginning of the winery’s modern history.This deed, which bears the stamp of the Austro-Hungarian empire, is the oldest document at the winery, attesting as it does to the donation of a plot of vineyard land between members of our family.
I say: Dry and full, with dark fruit , herbs and acid.
Food: Proscuitto di San Daniele, produced only in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, in the hilly area around the town of San Daniele in the province of Udine, in the extreme north-eastern part of Italy.
Pick to Win:
Primoz Roglic. Always go with the "local" guy .