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Giro Stage 13: The cursed Po valley

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It is a thing we must pass every year in the Giro, the uninspiring Po valley. The abominable flatness that separates Appenines from Alps. A place sprinters relish and climbers abhor. But this is Italy, even the lesser bits are magical by most standards.

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Stage 13: Reggio Emilia - Tortogna 167 km

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Did You Know!

The reason (well one of the reasons) we are heading to Tortona in this 100th edition of the Giro is to pay homage to the greatest of all time, Il Campionissimo Fausto Coppi, who lived here for much of his life. Stage 14 will then start just down the road in Castellania where the five time Giro winner was born in 1919.

Tortona was where Coppi unsuccessfully tried to make a life with the infamous "woman in white" after they both abandoned their respective spouses to the church’s great . It was also here Coppi died in 1960 after returning from Burkina Faso with malaria that was never properly diagnosed.

The ancient motto of Tortona is "Pro tribus donis similis Terdona Leonis" roughly "Tordona is like a lion of three gifts" the gifts being virtue, loyalty and courtesy. Certainly these are traits that we all associate with cycling too, no cheating, backstabbing or rudeness here, no siree.

The stage manages to cover three regions on its way to Tortona , Emilia Romagna, Lombardia and Piemonte.

Tortona is home to the "Tortona Design Week" a quite prestigious event highlighting the Milan area’s role as one of the hubs for international design. Italian design is of course in many ways like Italian cycling right now, expensive, beautiful to watch and pretty useless and unpractical.

AmyBC’s Wine of the Day

Monsecco 2012 Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo

From the importer: There is almost a religious reverence in the Alto Piemonte for Monte Rosa, the mountain that hovers over the region, the grand eminence that protects and nurtures the region. It is visible from all points whether one is in Gattinara or Sizzano or Ghemme, an eternally white-topped mountain whose melting snows form the Sesia river that splits Gattinara from Ghemme. The soils of these hills are marked by the mineral salts and the glacial moraine from millennia of geological movement. Further, sitting in the foothills of this part of the Alps and neighboring the great lakes of Orta and Maggiore, the vines are exposed to large variations in temperature, warm days married to cool nights: an ideal ambience for the noble Nebbiolo and the other local varieties, all of which benefit from the long growing season to reach proper ripeness while maintaining a lively acidity.

What’s It About?

1 Giving the altimeters in the peloton’s bike computers a rest.
2. Marketing pancakes.
3. Sending a message to Marcel Kittel and other altitude-challenged sprinters that they should have come to the Giro.
4. A tribute to Ivan Quaranta, the man who turned getting dropped on freeway overpasses into an artform?
5. A good old fashioned bunch gallop. There’s a turn in the last 500 meters but it’s through a wide roundabout so it shouldn’t cause any trouble.

Pick to Win

André Greipel. His Lotto boys haven’t had too many GC duties in the last few days and this looks like the kind of finish where they could get their train-timing right if just André can just stick with his leadout.