COREDENONS / ALTOPIANO DEL MONTASIO
Weather: Overcast in the early morning. Sunny by mid-morning. Passing clouds. Warm but not hot. Cooler at elevation but not cold. W I N D Y.
Course Overview (according to the Giro d’Italia FIGHT FOR PINK Race Book): First uphill finish. Quite a short stage (167km) with two Category 1 climbs. First 100km on a shallow but constant climb as far as Paularo (intermediate sprint). Climb to Passo Cason di Lanza with gradients up to 15%. A short, technical descent interrupts up the climb. Long descent (technical on narrow roads for the first part) as far Pontebba, then the descent continues, less markedly, on a wide road as far Chiusaforte. Final climb of about 22km, with the final 4km at very high gradients.
Altopiano del Montasio (according to FIGHT FOR PINK, likely copied word-for-word from a press release written by the Ski Resort):
• The Altopiano del Montasio Uplands are well known for their Alpine Huts, the production of cheese and for abundant snow. This is an ideal place for trips in any season: There are 35km of ski slopes, trails for MTB and horse riding, as well as paragliding and rafting facilities.
• Montasio DOP cheese has been produced in the uplands since 1200 A.D. It is made from cows milk with at least 60 days ripening, can be fresh, medium or very aged. It is the main ingredient of frico, a traditional dish made of cheese, butter and lard, which is served with a snack (with a drink) or in an omelet, as a second course.
• This was its (Montasio’s) debut as a finish town.
Course Overview (according to Ian Gabriel Marshall & Daniel Wakefield Pasley):
Editor’s Note: These mountains in Northern Italy are like no other mountains in the world, they are abnormal and unique. They are massive, the relief is staggering, the blanched colors and muted light is prehistorically otherworldly. They are craggy and covered in glaciers. They are run through with massive drainages and creeks and mile-wide glacial flood plains. They are vertical and over-vertical and impossibly straight-up. We are in another world.
We skipped the start opting instead to meet the race more or less at the bottom of the first major climb in the town of Salino at 99,2k. We are packed for Slovenia, part of the former Yugoslavia, as the mountain top finish is half in Italy, half in Slovenia, and the nearest towns with accommodation are in either Slovenia or Austria. We chose Slovenia because the Ski Town of Bovec had vacancies, and Solvenia sounds tougher than Austria. As we pushed further and further into the mountains, nearing our exit and the spot where we wanted to link up with the course, the only working radio station began to play, at first, what sounded like Romanian Folk House before changing (for good) to a cross between Alps Polka and Russian Folk Music.
Also, now that we are in Northern Italy, when we stop to ask for directions or to take photographs, the locals invariably ask, with some visible concern, if I am German. This happens several times, this never happened in Southern Italy. This is a “new development.”
After photographing the very bottom of Passo Casopn di Lanza1, we drove around an entire Dolomite, swinging through Austria (we think!?) for a few kilometers, rejoined the course well ahead of the lead group, and continued on to the top (1152 meters) of the second climb, Sella Nevea/Altopiano del Montasio.
The last four times we set out with the Firm Intention to find the best place on the last climb before the finish to photograph, we failed. We drove right past/through the most beautiful sections of the climb to the very end where we were forced to deviate and park. On the way up Altopiano, past the waterfalls, past the meadows, over the creeks, through the many tunnels, up the many switchbacks, the road more narrow with every turn, the seamless corral-like, banner-covered fencing already in place, it dawned us at that we had gone oh-for-five. After parking at the top, past the deviation, in the back of the top of the mountain, we walked 3k back down and onto the face of the mountain, where it didn't suck. We had time, it was something to do, we needed the exercise.
Notes / Observations
- The Italian Mountain Military Uniform is beautiful, in particular I like the the camouflage pattern, their mountaineering boots and, of course, the felt, asymmetrical Swiss-Alps looking hat with a feather on the side.
- Today one of the GMSVs (Giro Merchandise Sprinter Van) skidded to a stop at the bottom of a well spectated switchback, the driver rolled down the windows, turned Gangnam Style up as loud as possible, then began beeping and rocking the van from side to side. This event lasted for approximately 30 seconds.
- I watched one moto driver share his apple with another moto driver in the shade of a tree.
- Following the Blue Dot today was challenging, a lot of “stay to the left, go to the right.”
- On a bridge over a glacial river, the sound dozens of pink streamers stretched from the top of a street light to a railing on the side walk below make in the wind.
- Meeting Antonio from Treviso: I found Antonio, dressed in an orange hi-vis waterproof/breathable worksuit, leaning against a hand railing, staring (just staring) at some Giro girls lying in the sun in the grass a few feet away from his feet. After photographing that particular tableau, we started talking. First, he asked me if I was German. Then, when he learned that I was American, he told me that he is a very big fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, and that it’s a shame about Kobe Bryant, who was, according to Antonio, “kaput.” To drive the kaput-thing home he made the noise people make when attempting to imitate the sound an explosion makes, coordinated with the bomb-going-off arms in the air move. Then we shook hands “bro-style” at which point he executed “the snap” finishing move.
- Peering into a dark tunnel and listening to several Pros chit-chat (Italian, I think) their way to the top with 2 kilometers to go. Rigoberto did his thing. Cadel hung tight. Nibali sat tight. The race was over. These dudes were just commuting.
- Robert Vrecer, Team Euskatel, who, after riding through that very same tunnel, recognized some friends on the side of the course, rode over to them smiling-style and high-fived them all as he passed.2
- The race finished in an APLINE WONDERLAND. On the way to the car after the dance party and product toss exhibition in the parking lot, we passed a group of friends walking back to their car carrying tele-skis covered in slush and wearing rucksacks rigged with ice axes, ropes, crampons, etc.
- Slovenia is rad. Big-time.
- This despite the fact that a 3-foot blue Ethernet cable is required to access the internet in room 207 of the Hotel-Penzion Boka Bovec, from which room this report was filed.
THE GIRO CARAVAN
Balocco & Filli Oresero Dance Party and Product Toss
PLAYLIST ADDENDUM (DISC 2)
Track One: Zingaro by Barry
Track Two: Pompeii by Bastille
Track Three: Ode to Oi by TJR
Track Four: My Name is Stain by Shaka Ponk
Track Five: Alive by Empire of the Sun
Track Six: Latch by Disclosure Feat. Sam Smith
Track Seven: Every Day I Love You Less and Less by Kaiser Chiefs
Track Eight: Groovejet by Spiller
Track: Scream And Shout by Will.i.am Feat. Britney Spears
Track Ten: #thatPOWER by will.i.am Feat Justin Bieber
- I had an incident with Photo Moto #7 (not pictured; figure for reference). Here’s my side of the story. I had been patiently waiting in a spot for 45 minutes, for the race to pass by. He drove up on the back of motorcycle with less than two minutes to spare. After getting off the back of the moto he walked over to where I was standing and stood right in front of me. Like, right in front of me. I asked him why. He ignored me. I asked him why again, this time louder, he turned around, looked me up and down with disdain and contempt and turned back around. At that time I expressed my feelings to him in a way and manner that did not really require translation, if translation at that point was ever even required. [↩]
- Manual #14: DON'T FORGET YOUR FRIENDS [↩]