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88th Giro d'Italia - Route Overview: Stages 6 to 10.
By Fabio
Date: 1/26/2005
88th Giro d'Italia - Route Overview: Stages 6 to 10.

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Our Giro d’Italia special coverage continues with our next feature: a close, stage-by-stage look at the race parcours. Lots of details on all stages of the first Grand Tour of the season, from the possible stage winners to the length, gradient and profile of most climbs, from pics to to more other data, can be found down in this page.

Part two of the report is about the central and northern Italy stages – the "race of truth" into Florence included - driving the peloton all the way to the foot of the Dolomites. All climb names are listed in green.

Stage 6 (Friday - May 13, 2005)

Viterbo to Marina di Grosseto (154 km)

After yesterday’s efforts on the hills of the Abruzzo National Park, and a car transfer from L’Aquila (Italian word for "The Eagle", btw) back to Latium, riders line up at Viterbo for the start of an easier stage, short and with few difficulties, all of which coming in the early kilometres. The only real climb comes at Scansano, and it’s a 6-km. ascent with an average gradient of no more than 5%. But the last part of the leg, that makes its way into the "Granduchy of Cycling", Tuscany (home to countless world-class riders of the present and the past) and finishes into the seaside town of Marina di Grosseto ("the beach of Grosseto") for the first time, runs on pan-flat roads, and is perfectly suited for the sprinters. Another day for Petacchi, or maybe one for the Lion King as the Giro gets to Cipollini’s home region? Or a glory day for any other fastman?

Il Giro meets the sea, again.
But it’s noooo time for beach distractions for the peloton boys.
Image courtesy Marina di Grosseto.

Stage 7 (Saturday - May 14, 2005)

Grosseto to Pistoia (205 km)

For the first time in the most recent editons, the opening week comes to end without any mountain top finishes under the belt. Indeed also Saturday’s all-Tuscan stage, linking two of the region’s biggest cities, ends on flat note. But the stage itself cannot be considered a easy one, as riders have to tackle two challenging ascents: San Baronto (short but steep, according to Gazzette dello Sport: 3.7 km. at an average gradient of 8.1%, peaking at 348m ASL) first, and the strangely-named Sammommè (5.0 km. at an average gradient of 6.5%, 553m ASL), that peaks at just 30k from the line, later. It can be a first significant climbing test for the riders amd their legs, just one day away from the Florence ITT, and while the week with the first, real mountains is getting closer and closer. Click on the following link for the San Baronto climb profile.

Discovery Channel's new star rider Yaroslav Popovych
in his Landbouwkrediet-Colnago days.
Will he be racing this stage on Tuscan "home roads"?
Photo by Fabio. © All Rights Reserved.

A winning breakaway through the olive groves is not unlikely today, as much as it’s not unlikely to find the top overall contenders in the top places of the stage classification. And assuming he's racing the Giro, one of those top contenders might be Yaroslav Popovych, as the stage ends up on the "home roads" of the Pistoia province, whose town of Quarrata hosts the HQs of the Discovery Channel Ukrainian. If Quarrata is to Popovych what the Catalan city of Girona is to Armstrong, "Fast Freddy" and other Americans, another hamlet of this area, Vinci, is the real hometown … of the great Leonardo, of course. But also … the great Roberto Gaggioli, Italy’s best-known "cycling immigrant" to the United States. Unfortunately for the Tuscan, while there’s still some chances (at least while this story is being written) to see "Popo" at the Giro, Gaggioli’s only way to attend the event is as an average spectator.

Stage 8 (Sunday - May 15, 2005)

Lamporecchio to Florence - ITT (41 Km)

… or the "Tappa Bartali" (Bartali Stage) of the 88th cycling Tour of Italy. As reported in the history section of our Giro special report, after Fausto Coppi’s "public rival" (surely not enemy) number one passed away on the eve of the 2000 Giro start, the organizers made the decision to pay homage to his figure by naming a stage running inside the territory of his home region Tuscany after him. And the 41-km. ITT from Lamporecchio to Bartali’s hometown Florence, scheduled for Saturday May 15, 2005, is definitely one of the best tributes the race could pay to one of his greatest protagonists ever, Gino “the Pious” Bartali.

This stage is not just about tributes to legends of cycling anyway. Sunday’s is also the first real "race of truth", the first stage really able, regardless of all previous middle-mountain thingies, to shake things up a bit. All GC contenders have to ride their legs off for the very first time in this Giro, on a route that is mainly for specialists, even if, as you can see in the profile above, there’s a relatively short ascent in the first part. The second half is a truly pancake-flat thing instead, where riders could set fast times on the way to the line, located at the Cascine park.

TT sensation Serhyi Honchar.
Courtesy Capture-the-peloton

The tiny climbers have to limit losses on such a parcours, while the powerful TT machines could get a new victory under their belt. Machines like Serhyi Honchar (or Sergei Gontchar if you prefer ….) perhaps? With the outstanding wins against the clock he scored both in Milan (closing stage of the 2003 edition) and Trieste (the 2004 counterpart of today’s ITT), and his surprise second place in the Giro 2004 final GC, the man has got everything he needs to be a factor in this stage too. Assuming the Ukrainian is actually racing the Giro, as he currently rides for a lesser team, De Nardi, which is not a member of the exclusive club of UCI Pro Tour license getters. But, Serhyi’s (Sergei’s if you prefer …) aforementioned accomplishments might help the blue-clad team, also featuring talented Brit Charles Wegelius, become member of another exclusive club, the club of squads getting a coveted "wild-card" for the Giro.

He could be a factor, but not necessarily the winner, and even in case the Ukrainian should line up for the start, this stage is far from being a one-man race; with more foreign teams competing, the T-Mobile and Discovery Channel ITT specialists in particular, not to mention Liberty Seguros, he will no doubt meet more serious opposition than in the past. So why not picking Beloki as possible winner? Or a U.S. rider perhaps: another ITT is used to take place every October in this same zone, although it rides the other way around, as it’s the Firenze-Pistoia we are talking of. The race against the clock from Florence to Pistoia was the first cycling event ever held on Italian soil, whose first edition, back in the days of 1870, was won by … an American! A teenage boy named Rynner van Heste, son of the American consul in Florence, dominated a field of 23 participants in this 33-km. velocipede race (click here to know more on Van Heste and this contest in general), averaging a speed of … 15 kph! So why shouldn’t a compatriot repeat victory in the area (better if with a higher average speed though)?

Florence’s Ponte Vecchio Bridge. Photo courtesy Firenze Online.

We do not include veteran Andrea Tafi in the list of possible stage winners, even though he could be extra-motivated as the leg kicks off in his hometown Lamporecchio (welcoming a Giro stage start for the first time), something that, as the same "Gladiator" admits, really made him proud, adding that he’ll do his best in order to have a good ride. Florence is a town steeped in Giro tradition instead, as the Corsa Rosa has made its way into Tuscany’s main city no less than 28 more times before, the last one in 1989. And the winners were:

1909 Luigi Ganna (Ita)
1910 Luigi Ganna (Ita)
1911 Carlo Galetti (Ita)
1912 Carlo Galetti (Ita)
1919 Costante Girardengo (Ita)
1922 Giovanni Brunero (Ita)
1923 Costante Girardengo (Ita)
1924 Federico Gay (Ita)
1926 Alfredo Binda (Ita)
1932 Ettore Meini (Ita)
1933 Giuseppe Olmo (Ita)
1934 Learco Guerra (Ita)
1935 Vasco Bergamaschi (Ita)
1936 Giuseppe Olmo (Ita)
1939 Gino Bartali (Ita)
1940 Olimpio Bizzi (Ita)
1946 Renzo Zanazzi (Ita)
1947 Renzo Zanazzi (Ita)
1948 Oreste Conte (Ita)
1950 Alfredo Martini (Ita)
1951 Guido de Santi (Ita)
1954 Giovanni Corrieri (Ita)
1961 Silvano Ciampi (Ita)
1965 René Binggeli (Swi)
1973 Francesco Moser (Ita)
1979 Francesco Moser (Ita)
1984 Urs Freuler (Swi)
1989 Lech Piaseck (Pol)

Particularly worthy of mention is the 1984 sprint, with teammates Urs Freuler and Pierino Gavazzi sprinting like they were the worst of enemies, and the former coming out on top, as well as the 1973 stage, that saw a young rider going under the name of Francesco Moser choose this place to open his Giro d’Italia account. The 1965 event was the closing stage of an edition dominated by Vittorio Adorni, who finished the race 11'30" clear of Italo Zilioli. That was the last time a GC winner was able to open a gap of more than 10 minutes over his "nearest" rival. Back in 1961 the stage was won by Silvano Ciampi, but Arnaldo Pambianco captured the Maglia Rosa here, and maintained it firmly on his shoulders all the way to the final podium. With all those mountains coming later in the race, you can bet this is not going to happen this time anyway ...

Stage 9 (Monday - May 16, 2005)

Florence to Ravenna (139 Km)

Courtesy Dante Online.

After Sunday’s first "race of truth", and with the General Classification possibly quite different from the previous morning, the Giro resumes with a classic "transition stage", from Florence to the town of Ravenna, from Tuscany to the planes of Romagna, after crossing the Appennines (again). Or - speaking of poets -a "Dante Alighieri stage", as the route links the hometown of the man universally regarded as Italy's greatest poet ever, author of the "Divine Comedy" masterpiece (and high school torture for countless million Italians), to the place he spent the last days of his exile at.

It all (as in today's stage, not Dante's story ...) gets started at Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square, named after just another great Tuscan artist, where riders will have all the time to enjoy the great view of the city the place offers before getting in the saddle. After riding in front of the Gino Bartali Cycling Museum at Bartali’s own borough Ponte a Ema, the race moves northward, and meets the only difficulty of the day, Passo del Muraglione, a relatively tough climb (whose detailed profile can be found in this link) of 8.5 km., coming halfway through the ride and averaging a gradient of 5.92%, whose in-depth profile is available in this link. But the last, decisive part of the stage is all about pure riding on the flats, to the delight of AleJet and his sprinting colleagues, predictably stealing back the headlines as the race hit the finish line in the city of mosaics and Byzantine churches (you can even try a virtual tour here).

Courtesy Comune di Ravenna

The Giro comes to Ravenna for the fifth time. The four previous stage winners - all of them from the host country - were legendary Learco 'Human Locomotive' Guerra (1931), whose record of Giro stage victories is second only to Mario Cipollini’s, Cino Cinelli (1938), Pasquale Fornara (1955) and Marino Basso, that beat Franco Bitossi into second place in the Tour of Italy 1972 opener.

Stage 10 (Wednesday - May 18, 2005)

Ravenna to Rossano Veneto (212 Km)

Rossano Veneto Coat of Arms.

Tuesday is rest day at Giro d'Italia. But before giving ourselves a well-deserved break, we cover one more stage, the long but completely flat ride taking place as the event resumes the following day. Which takes the peloton from Romagna to the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy, from Ravenna to Rossano Veneto, that makes its debut as Giro stage finish town. Rossano is part of the Vicenza province, in the outskirts of better-known Bassano del Grappa, but not far from the Treviso area the Fassa-Bortolo HQs are located at. And there’s no doubt that a(nother) win by Alessandro Petacchi in Veneto's "traditional" sprinters stage would be more than welcomed by his team sponsors. Whether all other fastmen around (many having their last chance before the Dolomite mountain monsters force them out of the Corsa Rosa) agree or not, is a whole different thing.

Is the Sprinter Gentleman going to lead the Fassa charge
on the team's home soil? Photo by Fabio. © All Rights Reserved

After an all-out prologue and ten more stages across the peninsula, we too are going to take a small, and well-earned, break. But shall be back soon with the detailed overview of the second half of the race. The one with the Dolomites and the Alps. Where the going gets really tough. And the (mountain) goats get going. See you soon!

* Route Overview Part One (Prologue to Stage 5).

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