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Giro stage 9: Going up... and up... and up

Pesco Sannita— Gran Sasso d’Italia (Campo Imperatore), 225km

Getty Images/Westend61

A Giro Sunday means climbing, and stage 9 is no exception, as the peloton spend a second day climbing in the Apennines.

What’s It About?

A second Apennine stage of the weekend, this one is long and features plenty of climbing. The stage finishes atop the poetically named big rock of Italy. To get there, the riders will have been climbing pretty constantly for 45km. None of it is too tough but the volume is enormous. Were the Giro a boxing match (and the analogy has some utility) this would be the round in which the organisers go for the body, softening up the opponent for knock-outs later. Not decisive, necessarily, but significant.

Stage Details



That’s of some use. Of more use, perhaps, is a view of the two final climbs, which run together with little between them.

This is a slog of a climb, rarely in the double digits but not flat for long. It’ll be as hard as the riders chose to make it. As always with a mountain stage, you should pop over to see what Will thinks. He likes bald guys. In terms of winning this stage, you understand, not more generally. NTTAWWT.

Did You Know?

I promise, I was going to write about the Gran Sasso raid and all that WW2 stuff, and I would have enjoyed all of that. However, I went down a different rabbit hole, pun intended, when I started following links about the Campo Imperatore. When this alpine meadow isn’t the centre of the cycling universe, it is at the heart of some really cool rewilding and preservation activities.

In particular, the plight of the Apennine brown bear is still pretty serious, but the projects running in the wildlife parks here in the heart of Italy are giving them, and a bunch of other animals and plants, some hope. Here’s to their hard work and success.

De Agostini/Getty Images

Whom Does the Stage Favor?

As I say, this stage will be as hard as the riders chose to make it. This has “Sky killing cycling” written all over it. It may not be Sky who make pace, but I would expect to see a tough but not severe pace set on the front for most of this stage. Attacks are possible, sure, but this is one for the diesels. There’s enough difficulty that we could see attacks and a broken up field (we did back in 1999), but I doubt it. This looks to me like one with a biggish group of tired riders finishing reasonably close together, and I’d be surprised if we mention this stage when looking back over decisive moments from the race.

AmyBC’s Wine of the Day

Wine: Sarno 1860

The producer tells me: In a single site, a single vineyard for a single type of grapes, giving life to a unique product. The courageous choice of Maura Sarno, to cultivate a single Fiano vineyard in a single site, which for her means authentic expression of the territory. Candida, an ancient village in the province of Avellino, is located at 600 meters above sea level. In a calcareous clay soil, the vines benefit from cool nights and mild summers, well tolerating winter snow. The subsoil in spring returns heat and humidity to the roots,thus promoting minerality and water supply to the vines. In winter an important pruning is carried out in order to limit the quantity of vine bunches to the benefit of the quality. In summer, green peeling and pruning allow the grapes to be aired, guaranteeing perfect exposure to the sun.

Pick to Win

Someone will come out of the leading pack and win the stage, obviously. Working out who, now, that’s the rub. Let’s go with Giulio Ciccone, who is far enough down on GC to be given a little leeway, climbs well enough to be in the group, has shown the ability to finish off a race, looked great from the break in stage 6, and is from Chieti, not a million miles from Gran Sasso. Also, he has hair, so I’m sneering at Will’s science.