Simoni inspecting the Zoncolan. what a difficult climb !
Gilberto Simoni has tested Zoncolan - "It will be very hard for us...but a real show for all fans": Gilberto Simoni has started on Thursday, December 05 his build-up for the Giro d’Italia 2003, by inspecting the course of the awful Stage 12 of the "Corsa Rosa", from San Donŕ di Piave to Monte Zoncolan (185 km, scheduled for May 22nd, 2003)
Simoni, directeur sportif Flavio Miozzo and teammates Leonardo Bertagnolli, Juan Fuentes and Damiano Cunego tested the different climbs of the route, starting from the Fuessa ascent, featuring the first part of the stage.
Later they headed towards Monte Zoncolan, whose top will host the stage finish, inspecting this extraordinary climb (13 km-long., with an average gradient of 9% and a maximum going up to 22%, an altitude gain of 1196 m.). Due to bad weather conditions, riders couldn't stay in the saddle for the whole ascent. They had to climb the last 3 kilometres on jeeps provided by a local team (GS Carnia Bike), as the route was covered by snow..
Simoni's reactions after the check-out were as follows: “I wouldn't compare this ascent with other, more famous important climbs, even a comparison with the Angliru is difficult to me. One thing is certain: the final part of the Zoncolan will be awful for us riders, and make a significative selection, no matter how weather conditions will be. It will be a great showdown for by-standers, also because this route, completely plunged into green, looks like being the ideal one for fans eager to follow the Giro live on the spot"
And again "We must be careful to choose the right gear to use there, and not make a mistake. We are on the edge of (using the) the 30, also taking into consideration the fact that you are at the end of a decidedly gruelling stage. Unlike the Mortirolo, the first part of the ascent is not that difficult, but in the last 3 km. you really need to give it all. In its first part, the street is broad, and you may run the risk not to realize how steep it is, but as much as you go on, it gets narrower, such that in the end you are racing in something similar to a ski slope. Very very narrow. And there's no turn, no bend in the last km".
Martinelli's enthusiasm: The route has got my applause
Giuseppe Martinelli (Saeco's Sport Director) “The five top mountain finishes are REAL climbs, coming at the end of stages featuring more other difficult ascents. The leg which impressed me the most was the one finishing up to Alpe di Pampeago, encompassing also the San Pellegrino and Passo Rolle. But the Giro will reach its apex in the Chianale stage that, in my opinion, will be descisive for the final outcome. Even though, as a fan, I'd like suspense and uncertainty to last until the final ITT in Milan, perhaps with Aitor González as a threat to Italian riders. The route of this Giro really gets all my applause. It gives a chance to everyone, with climbers as main favourites.
Alberto Volpi: A well-balanced course
Fassa Bortolo's Team Manager Alberto Volpi: “There are gruelling ascents, such as the Esischie-Fauniera or Zoncolan, time-trials (relatively short ones though) and tricky stages. Tricky like the one finishing into Faenza, continuously going up and down the Appennines, through narrow and challenging roads. I think complete riders are favourites. We have Aitor González and Frigo. On paper they are on the same level".
Bruno Cenghialta: A Giro with many possible winners
Alessio's Team Manager Bruno Cenghialta: "In my opinion it will be a wide open race. Climbers are favourite, but I can see more than two or three riders able to win. As for my team, I believe in Caucchioli and Pellizotti, with the latter going for stage victory on the Zoncolan. It will prove fundamental not to waste energies at the wrong time".
Salutini: Cipo would be pleased to wear the first Maglia rosa
Antonio Salutini (Sport Director of Cipollini's team, that just got a brand new sponsor, Elitron): "The race gets underway with a big chance for Mario: the first Pink Jersey of the race. And such things please him. Three stages out of the first six are good for sprinters. This route can make everyone happy. The main favourites ? Simoni, followed by Casagrande. And Garzelli too, although he'll start racing only at the end of April. A possible surprise ? One of the climbers for sure
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