Friday, May 14, 2010

2010 Giro d'Italia, Strade Bianche Tomorrow for Stage 7

Tomorrow's 220 km stage through Tuscany will begin in the famous marble city of Carrara and will end in the town of Montalcino. After an initial flat part along the coast of Versilia the route moves inland. The original climb to Volterra has been canceled due to a landslide. There will be approximately 19 km of the white gravel roads, coming near the end, that riders will have to contend with. The last two sectors are up and down (or "mangia e beve" as Italian riders say) and the last sector includes the climb of Poggio Civitella less than 5 km from the finish.

Rain is predicted for tomorrow and concern has been raised about the possible road conditions. BMC's technical director, Fabio Baldato, thinks otherwise saying, "I faced the dirt roads in the rain and I guarantee that it is better wet than dry. The land of the Strade Bianche is very draining to ride and without dust you ride a lot better. There isn't the dust that sticks in your throat and you can clearly see the road and obstacles. I spoke with Cadel (Evans) and I explained that even if it rains there is nothing to fear."

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) said, "Whoever hasn't got much experience of riding on the dirt roads will be in for a shock. Riding on the dirt roads is not as hard as riding on the cobbles but it's not easy. If it splits and someone is left behind in a chase group, they'll lose a lot of time. Evans used to ride a mountain bike and so knows how to ride off road. But someone like Sastre or Basso, could really struggle. They've both got strong teams to help them but it depends on how much they want to risk it on the descent. The whole finale is going to be a lottery, anything could happen. It'll be a nightmare to ride but it should make it a spectacular stage to watch."

In mid-November Michele Bartoli, the Italian ex-professional who won a number of the one day classics, did a reconnaissance ride around Montalcino. Bartoli's report: "Whoever wants to win the Giro will have to keep their eyes open. It's like turning back 50 years. It's a striking stage. The entrance of the gravel sector is hard and it scared me a little bit. The road shot up more than I expected, up to 17%, and you need a 25 gear behind, otherwise you can't go on. Also, the rollers don't allow you to catch your breath. It is going to be very difficult." To read this story, including photos and a link to a video, see here.

Photo: Bartoli's recon in November

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