Giro d'Italia to race up Mount Etna volcano, twice
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Giro d'Italia to race up Mount Etna volcano, twice

by Samuel Morrison at 5:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Europe's most active volcano on Giro d'Italia's list of mountain stages for 2011

Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanoes, will appear not once, but twice in Giro d'Italia next year.

The riders will climb the Sicilian landmark on May 15 in the ninth stage of the three-week race. From Sicily's largest city, the stage will cover 159 kilometres to its finish up the south side of Mount Etna to a lone hotel, called Rifugio Sapienza, at 1904 metres. The area often feels the heat of Etna and in 2002, the surrounding area was party destroyed by an eruption.

The climb to Rifugio Sapienza from Nicolosi lasts 19 kilometres and climbs nearly 700 metres. To make the most of its visit, Giro d'Italia organiser RCS Sport will send the riders up the north side earlier in the stage. They will climb around 17 kilometres from Linguaglossa to Lenza at 1631 metres.

Mount Etna rumbles and spits out hot lava frequently, its last eruption was in August. The Giro d'Italia's last visit was over 20 years ago in 1989 when Portugal's Acacio Da Silva won the stage ahead Colombia's Lucho Herrera and Da Silva took the race leader's pink jersey.

Italian Franco Bitosi beat Spaniard Aurelio Gonzales 1967 to win the stage and to celebrate the Giro d'Italia's first visit to Mount Etna

"The heat was suffocating. The more you climbed, the less you could breathe," Bitosi told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"I remember a square with hotels. I returned this year for a mountain bike race, the hotels were no longer there, they were buried by lava."

RCS Sport will release the entire stage details at the Giro d'Italia presentation this Saturday in Torino. The race will start in Torino with a team time trial on May 7 and end in Milano with a time trial on May 29.

RCS Sport has released details of several of the key mountain stages through its newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport to keep ahead of its rivals. In recent years, rival TuttoSport newspaper has obtained and leaked details, even the entire route, prior to the official presentation.

Key mountain stage so far:
- Mount Etna, May 15. Third visit, to be climbed twice: once to Lenza (1631m) and the finish to Rifugio Sapienza (1904m).
- Monte Zoncolan, May 22. Appeared this year when Ivan Basso won a duel with Cadel Evans. 10.1km, gradients up to 22%.
- Colle delle Finestre, May 28. First appeared in 2005, climbs 18.5 kilometres, 9.7 kilometres on gravel.
 

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