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2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 12 Preview

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What happened on stage 11

After being in the day’s break, Ilnur Zakarin attacked his companions with 20 kilometers to go and time trialed his way to victory on the Imola Formula 1 circuit. Winner of the Tour de Romandie this season, the Katusha cyclist got his first victory in a Grand Tour, and was Russia’s 24th in the Giro d’Italia. Back in the pack, Alberto Contador decided to attack in order to test his opponents, and even though he didn’t leave anyone behind, it was obvious that Fabio Aru had some problems responding, as he didn’t look too good in those last kilometers.

What comes now

The 12th stage (Imola-Vicenza, 190 kilometers) is clearly divided into two parts: the first 130 kilometers across the Po Valley are totally flat, while the last 60 kilometers are very wavy and rough, with a few demanding climbs, and a mountain finish after a final spurt. The route runs across the Basso Ferrarese region and the Polesine area, along flat, largely straight and regular-width roads, worn out at points.

Just past Torriglia, the route takes in the easy-to-ride Castelnuovo climb (5% average gradient), in the Euganean Hills, and then crosses a short sector of flatland leading to the Berici Hills. The course clears the Crosara climb, going up from the Mossano slope, with almost two kilometers at gradients exceeding 10% and peaks reaching as high as 17%, on quite wide roads leading to the technical Lapio descent and, eventually, to the challenging final 15 kilometres.

After Fimon, the route takes in a 2-km long climb, with an 8-9% slope, peaking as high as 11% at points. Then comes a short false-flat drag, followed by a demanding – yet short – descent, leading to the last 5 km, which run entirely on flat terrain up to 1200 meters from the finish, where the final spurt begins. The last km has an average 7,1% gradient, with slopes approaching 10% in the final part and topping out at 11% in the very last stretch of the spurt. The home straight is 300-m long, on 7-m wide asphalt road.

The finish in Vicenza is very tough and could bring another type of riders into play, the punchy ones, used with the hard climbs of Flèche Wallonne. For this reason, Philippe Gilbert will be one of the main candidates, the Belgian being keen to take that victory that has eluded him since the start of the race. Unfortunately for Gilbert, Diego Ulissi is in excellent shape and will have an important saying on Monte Berico, where he’s more than capable to outsprint all his rivals.

Giovanni Visconti lies in seventh in the general classification, but he’s more interested in getting a win, and stage 12 should provide him an excellent opportunity to reach his goal, so he’ll clearly be with the best in the finale. Damiano Cunego, Carlos Betancur (who is close to top form), Tom-Jelte Slagter, Simon Gerrans and even Fabio Aru – if he feels ok and Astana decides to put the hammer down – are other cyclists likely to be among the protagonists on the last uphill.

Vicenza was nine times in the past an arrival city in the Corsa Rosa, but only once before a stage has ended on Monte Berico. This happened at the 1967 edition, when Spain’s Francisco Ibarra Gabica defeated two Italians, Franco Balmamion and Imerio Massignan. That was Gabica’s sole victory of the season.

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