Friday, May 23, 2008

Stage 14 preview: Verona → Alpe di Pampeago, 195k

Five years ago to the day, Gilberto Simoni won stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia atop Alpe di Pampeago in the Dolomites -- his home turf. This year's stage 14 also finishes on the steep Alpe di Pampeago (7.8k, avg 9.6%) and Simoni said back in March that a possible repeat was his best shot for winning a stage at his final Giro.

The day starts off with three climbs all around 9.5k @ 5.7% providing ample warm-up before the long cat 1, Passo de Manghen. The descent down Passo de Manghen isn't technical by pro standards so it will be hard for a break on Manghen to stick. Instead, it could be Alberto Contador, Riccardo Ricco and Gilberto Simoni grinding it out as Alpe di Pampeago gets steeper and steeper -- the two young superstars against the wily, sentimental favourite. In total, stage 14 has 4000+ metres of climbing and this is just the start of what should be an exceptional final week at the Giro.

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