PEZ-Man Alessandro Federico rode the climb recently, and gives us the blow-by-blow on how tough a 500m altitude gain with 18% pitches can be on the stage that passes through Danilo DiLuca’s home training grounds…
The final 50km of Stage 7 promises the fist big shake-up on GC. The race won’t be won here, but it can easily be lost…
Hidden by the shadow of the Monte Catria we discovered the Monte delle Cesane is located just 50 km from the finish line in Saltara.
Between the two climbs the race will pass through the Gola del Furlo and by the ancient church of San Michele.
The quiet of the place will be interrupted by the main pack and it’s a pity that the maglia rosa won’t be able to look inside – so beautiful is the romanic style in its simple design.
The Gola del Furlo is the gate to the Metauro valley…
…, and the first town in the valley is Fossombrone (km 49,250 to go) which sleeps on the south side of the Monte delle Cesane.
Once there, in the middle of the town the race will turn left and the adventure will start.
It’s called ‘Il piccolo Mortirolo’ (the small Mortirolo) and is a very special climb because it’s divided in two different sections. The first section is three kilometres long, is open to the Metauro valley and presents the highest slopes (up to 20%!), the second one (another four kilometres) finds its way inside a pine forest so closed that sometimes is difficult to know where you are.
The approach is tremendous.
The first two kilometres present an average slope of 12%, making an excellent platform for attacks. I used the 39×29 since the beginning for obvious reasons… There are 4 turns between the first and the second kilometre:
- the road is narrow and sometimes opens to the view of the below valley. In the second kilometre the road is larger and there is just one turn, the view now is full open and on a sunny day it’ll be very warm.
At a certain point in front of me I’ve encountered… a wall. At the side of the road a warning 20%! Really I’m riding on a 20%? I’ve no more legs, no more arms, no more breath… and this is real! At the end of it, the race will turn on a plan for a kilometre directed to the pine forest, one of the biggest of Italy. The air now is fresh and the 5% grade is almost descent for my legs, allowing a brief moment to take in the view.
Since the beginning of the forest the slope steepens again but is more irregular.
Never over 10% the road is again narrow and sometimes dirty. Race speeds in these dirty patches will also present the ever-present dangers of … riding on dirt – rough and slippery surfaces.
During the forest passage it’s almost impossible to see over the trees but, unexpectedly, at the fourth kilometre the view opens to the Gola del Furlo.
The view back to the Gola del Furlo is basically… breathtaking.
The final kms don’t offer any more surprises, except for two or three turns that aren’t too bad. At the top of the climb the road is still immersed inside the forest and there is 2 km to ride in light descent before find the way outside of it.
The road in this part is perfectly new.
Once outside (km 38,800 to go) there will be 7 km more of a wonderful descent with just a few easy turns before approaching to Isola del Piano (km 31,300 to go) and another 7 km more (light descent) to come back in the valley to Ponte degli Alberi, km 24,500 to go…
At 50 km to the finish line and followed by the Bargni climb (see the last 20 km story), the Monte delle Cesane will be the key point of this stage. This climb is a new entry in the Giro and we are sure we will find again the Piccolo Mortirolo in the next editions. Why forget such monster after discovered it inside the forest?
Once again our man Ale delivers the goods – and in a typically PEZ’d-out wardrobe… nice.
Keep it tuned to PEZ as Saturday promise some big-time fireworks!