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Giro di PEZ: Stage 16’s Tough Finale
Today’s 16th stage from Agordo to Lienz in Austria is anything but easy. After a close review of the stage profile, I wanted to see the final 33km for myself. On paper they look like the teeth of an broken saw – in reality they feel more like an Ardennes classic – without the flat bits in between.

Sure the boys are bagged after 3 hard stages in the mountains in the 5 days, and the weather is not helping. But it’s another day of rain here in north eastern Italy, but today it’s downright chilly – my dashboard read 6C degrees on the drive to Lienz.

• Snow was falling at the top of the Campolongo, and it was raining everywhere else. This will be a tough day – it’s one of the last 3 days that offer any hope for change to the guys battling for pink – so look some serious action in the finale.

• Three short but hard climbs before the flat finale in Lienz will make for some serious attacks. Di Luca will not have a free ride through here.

Mountain Stage Redux
After a pretty flat run along the valley from Bruneco to just inside the Austrian border – around 50km – the corsa takes a sharp left turn off the main road and immediately hits 8+% grade, the only 500m after it jumps to 14%. The road is tiny and twists it’s way up through a forest.

• The real action starts here. The next 33km are tailor-made for attacks and derring-do of all kinds. I say this section will be cracker and be the stage for some great racing. The final 17km of the day though, are on a pretty flat loop around Lienz, which could spell doom for a break. You can’t tell from the pic – but that slope is at 8% and going to 14%.

• The first climb is not too bad – it’s over in just 3600 meters, but the steep grade takes you up fast. Here’s the view from the top just past the village of Anras, looking back to where the race will approach from.

• The architecture up near the Austrian border is distinct – lots of onion-domed towers, and it seemed every church I saw was adorned with a huge faзade-like mural.

• Even the barns here look different. And judging by the aromas in the street here, this barn ain’t just for show.

• The street cleaners were on the job – I passed three in the last few kms.

• There’s no shortage of places to ask for divine intervention in these parts.

• This section of today’s corsa runs along the side of a mountain, and the roads follow the contours of the land – in, out, up and down. When I drove through it was raining (as usual this week) and the clouds were sitting low on the hills. Here’s a view just before the second climb begins.

And climb number 2 is only 2500meters long, but it’s the steepest of the bunch – hitting 17%, and averaging 12.5%. Ouch. But a couple of campers were already parked and ready for the race by 11:00 this morning.

• The road back here is narrow – one lane in some places. Perfect to get away and hide from the chasers. The descent is super steep with some serious switchbacks – and wet roads will make it downright dangerous.

• Course workers were on the job setting up the GPM mountain points line atop the third climb at Bannberg.

• We’ll soon know if my predictions are spot on, or just smoke. The stage is underway as I write, and it is cold out there – the bunch is together and taking their time. Keep it dialed to PEZ for the race report later today.

I’m praying for a break in the bad weather so tomorrow I can get on with my original plan – and do some riding – . On the feared Zoncolan no less.

Ciao for now –


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