Friday, September 13, 2013

Zoncolan and Trieste, Grand Finale of 2014 Giro d'Italia

The 2014 Giro d’Italia will finish in the Fruili Venezia Giulia region and decide the winner of the 97th edition of the Giro. The Grande Arrivo in Trieste follows the monster Zoncolan climb and is poignant as it coincides with the 60th anniversary of the annexation of the regional capital to Italy.

The return of the finish to the area reinforces the strong bond between the Giro d’Italia and the region: it was the scene of the Grande Partenza of the Giro from Trieste in 1981, and three Grandi Arrivi, including two in Trieste 1966 (won by Gianni Motta) and 1973 (Eddy Merckx), and one in Udine in 1983 (Giuseppe Saronni).

The area remains etched in the history of the Italy – and not just for cycling as, after the annexation of the area to Italy, the Giro ended in Trieste. It was 30 June, 1946, and during the stage Rovigo – Trieste anti-Italians activists, in favor of the annexation of Trieste to Yugoslavia, blocked the caravan of the Giro about 2km east of Pieris, blocking the road with concrete blocks and targeting armed Italian guards by throwing stones and nails. The organization of the Giro had already decided to close the stage in Pieris, with equal times for everyone, but some racers – led by Giordano Cottur – insisted on reaching Trieste anyway. Some riders were escorted on military vehicles up to Grignano, from where they headed for the finish line and made for the hippodrome of Montebello in the north of Trieste, where they were hailed and carried in triumph by the inhabitants of the city.

This year, the climb of the Monte Zoncolan will prove instrumental in deciding the final selection of this edition before the Great Arrival in Trieste.

Saturday 31 May, 2014 will see Stage 20, 167km from Maniago – Monte Zoncolan (click on image above to enlarge). The first portion of the stage winds it way through the hills of Friuli along roads that, for the most part, have previously never been touched by the Giro d’Italia. The route will go though well-known places such as Daniele del Friuli and Majano, as well as less well-known places such as Buia and Bordano. After Tolmezzo the riders will face the mountain factor: first, the Passo del Pura, then the Sella di Razzo, and finally Monte Zoncolan from the classic line of Ovaro.

Passo del Pura is a steady climb that runs along the side of the mountain in a series of switchbacks for about 9km at an average gradient of 8% but with peaks in double figures. A short descent will bring the race to the dam of Sauris lake where the race will turn upwards once more for the ascent of the 15km-long Sella Razzo, with its average gradient of 5.5%, but with peaks over 10%. Following a long and rapid descent towards Ovaro in the valley before tackling the 10.1km Zoncolan with its average gradient of 11.9% and peaks over 20%.

It will be the fourth time that a stage of the Giro d’Italia concludes with an uphill finish on Monte Zoncolan – once it climbed from the slope of Sutrio while the other three climbed from Ovaro. The winners were Gilberto Simoni (2003 and 2007), Ivan Basso (2010), and Igor Anton (2011).

The next day, Sunday 1 June, 2014, will see the 21st and final stage of the 97th Giro, taking in 169km from Gemona del Friuli – Trieste (click on image above to enlarge).

The stage follows a generally downhill profile towards the lowlands and the regional capital. Passing through places of historical interest – such as Cividale del Friuli and his Devil's Bridge, with its Redipuglia Ossuary of the twelve battles of the Isonzo, and the Maximilian of Habsburg’s Miramare Castle – the riders will eventually reach Trieste where the race will end following eight laps of the city’s 7.3km fast circiut, with only one slight rise.

Michele Acquarone, RCS Sport Managing director: “In a sport such as cycling, loved all over the world, we are lucky enough to organise one of the two most important events globally. An important feature is that, as you well know, cycling takes place on the streets of cities, towns and countryside – not indoors – and this gives us wide open spaces to promote the area. In 2014 this area promotion will be dedicated to Friuli Venezia Giulia. The Giro will finish in Trieste but also travel through the Monte Zoncolan and numerous villages. It is a unique opportunity: history, tourism, culture. Opportunities for everybody to highlight all the excellence that this area has to offer.

“The 2014 Giro will start from Belfast before moving to Dublin to eventually end in Trieste, coinciding the 60th anniverssary of the annexation of the city to Italy. The message is that something beautiful, like the Giro, can go beyond sport and unite peoples and cultures."

Mauro Vegni, Giro d’Italia race director: “After all the issues with the Crostis stage in 2011 we were very motivated to return the Giro d’Italia in its full splendor to Friuli Venezia Giulia. This year we had two beautiful stages rich in meaning: the uphill finish of Montasio Plateau and the Cave del Predil – Vajont one. For 2014, we all had a strong desire to return to the Monte Zoncolan with a stage that could be decisive in deciding the final general classification of the Corsa Rosa. Thanks to the collaboration of our partners – Enzo Cainero in particular – and local administrations, we then began nursing the dream to conclude the 97th edition of the Corsa Rosa in one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, Piazza Unità d'Italia, here in Trieste. I am very pleased to be able to make the announcement that this is exactly what we’re doing. In advance I want to thank all the volunteers that, with their help, will make the success of this event possible."

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