Surely a respite for the GC riders, right? A stage for either the sprinters or a breakaway.
What’s It About?
A relatively short jaunt through the Lombardy region, and more specifically the Franciacorta wine region, on the way to a triptych of mountain stages. According to the Garibaldi, the first half of the stage is “undulating,” while I would more accurately describe it as “mislabeled.” There is one category 3 climb but 2 other non-categorized climbs that are equally as hard if not harder, including a long climb right at the start of the stage. With the last 55 kilometers being flattish, this stage is a toss up between the break and the sprinters.
That first climb is close to 11 kilometers at an average gradient of 5%. The Lodrino category 3 climb is 11.5 kilometers at 3.5% average gradient. The third climb is 6.3 kilometers at a 4.2% average, but more importantly with a steep descent on narrow roads to follow. The finish seems relatively straightforward with a straight run in during the last 5 km, with only a few wide roundabouts as obstacles.
Did You Know?
The Giro continues the tour of Italian cinema, which we last saw with Stage 12 passing the birthplace of Federico Fellini. This time, despite the beautiful scenery and abundant vineyards of the route, we are going to get a little darker as the route takes the riders past the town of Saló, which was the de facto capital of fascist Italy and residence of Il Duce. Hence, Pier Paolo Pasolini named his 1975 subversive satire/art/horror/pornographic film Saló, or the 120 days of Sodom. The film was loosely based on Marquis de Sade’s book 120 days of Sodom, but with the setting transposed from France to Mussolini’s Italy. The film has been both praised as a postmodern masterpiece and as an unwatchable and literally nauseating progenitor of the torture porn genre of horror film, with the film having been banned in many countries. I can’t offer an opinion on it though, as even reading the wikipedia summary of the plot makes me squeamish. Pasolini never got to live to see the controversy over his film, as he was murdered in 1975 under mysterious circumstances, potentially over an extortion plot involving stolen film reels of Saló.
Let’s just hope that Carlton Kirby has not heard of the film, as I’m sure there is a bad joke to be made about some of the objectionable material in the film and Tom Dumoulin’s infamous roadside sojourn last year.
Whom Does the Stage Favor?
I think the difficulty of the first 100 kilometers, combined with the impending mountain madness, makes this a good chance for a break. So far, the break has had very little luck at this Giro, with only Matej Mohoric and Esteban Chaves winning from the break (and really, Chaves’ victory was actually a Yates’ victory). There are many teams that must be thinking “if not now then when,” and this stage may be their last chance. All the pro-conti teams will want to get in the mix. (Fun fact - no pro-conti rider has won a stage of the Giro since Alexander Foliforov won the uphill TT in 2016). Trek, who have been apparently riding in tribute to Zubeldia, would assumedly like to be seen. UAE and Katusha will be trying to salvage some hope as well.
If Quickstep and Bora work to bring it back together, I think that Viviani get the better of Bennett. The stage passes near enough to Viviani’s hometown, and I think the mountains have been tougher on Bennett’s burly Irish physique.
AmyBC’s Wine of the Day
The Wine: Cuvée 60 2011 Brut Nature Casa Caterina.This is another one of those, I had another wine planned stages. But, since the Giro is calling it the Franciacorta stage, some bubbles.
From an importer: Winemaker Aurelio del Bono’s Casa Caterina is producing some of the best sparkling wine to come out of Italy today. Located in the DOCG of Franciacorta in Lombardia, Aurelio rejects the DOCG stipulations to create his own beautiful, expressive, natural wine that mirrors the purity of the land. The vines are organically grown, he adds no sulfur to the wine, uses only native yeast, and is known for keeping the wine on the lees for extended periods of time (up to 10 years).
Pick to Win
Let’s go with Diego Ulissi. The opening climb suggests that riders that can climb will get in the break, and Ulissi isn’t bad sprinting from a small group. Ulissi also has a yearly quota of Giro stages wins that has not been met yet.