Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre take a closer look at crucial Giro d'Italia stages
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre take a closer look at crucial Giro d'Italia stages

by Jered Gruber at 1:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Geox-TMC Grand Tour winners impressed with difficulty of upcoming Giro

For many of the Classics specialists, Easter Sunday was a final exam of sorts at the spring's concluding Monument, Liege-Bastogne-Liege. For some of the Giro's biggest contenders, however, Easter weekend was a chance to take a closer look at some of this Giro's most fearsome climbing stages.

Alberto Contador previewed the Grossglockner, Zoncolan, and Gardeccia triptych this weekend, as did Geox-TMC (sans Grossglockner). Three-time Grand Tour winner, Denis Menchov; Tour de France winner, Carlos Sastre; recent Giro del Trentino stage winner, Fabio Duarte; David Blanco, and Gianpaolo Cheula spent the weekend previewing the critical Giro mountain stages in Northern Italy - Stage 14's stage, which includes both the Monte Crostis and the Monte Zoncolan, as well as Stage 15's monster stage through the Dolomiti, which includes ascents of the Giau, Fedaia, and the final one to Gardeccia Val di Fassa.

Afterwards, 2009 Giro d'Italia winner, Denis Menchov, spoke with great respect about this year's new climb of the Monte Crostis.

"We all know how hard the Zoncolan is, but I think the Crostis will also be grueling; it's an all new climb that I wasn't familiar with, and I really wanted to see it before the Giro. It's extremely challenging, but the real problem will be coming off of it on the steep, technical downhill, on a narrow road with ruined asphalt."

An extremely difficult ascent, followed by a crazy descent, quickly followed in turn by the final climb of the Monte Zoncolan could doom some riders - not for the difficulty of the two climbs, but for the lack of time to take on calories.

"We're going to have to be very careful. It's going to be a problem to eat, drink, and recuperate energy on this descent before attacking the Zoncolan."

Menchov gives a nod to Stage 14, while Sastre in turn tips his hat to the next day's looming massacre in the Dolomites. The five-climb, 230 kilometer stage might have the most climbing of any race day in many, many years, perhaps ever. Contador reckons the day has over 6000 meters of climbing.

"The Giau and Fedaia are two important climbs, always worthy of respect. The Giau is especially hardest in its final stretch, and the Fedaia has that central part with long straights that seem endless."

For all veterans of the Giro, there won't be anything new from the Giau and the Fedaia. This finishing ascent to Gardeccia, however, is a new one, and according to Sastre, one to take note of.

I wasn't familiar with the Gardeccia climb - it has some extremely challenging stretches, and you really need to take into consideration that you arrive to this wall after more than 200 kilometers of racing."

This year's Giro is undoubtedly one of the hardest, if not the hardest Grand Tour of the modern era (on paper at least). The section of the Giro from Grossglockner on Stage 13, the Zoncolan/Crostis in Stage 14, and the Dolomiti in Stage 15 will form the crux of the whole three weeks.

The big question, of course, is whether Menchov and Sastre can contend with the last two Grand Tour winners: Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali.



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