Giro d’Italia: Eruptions on Mount Etna could disrupt Sunday’s stage
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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Giro d’Italia: Eruptions on Mount Etna could disrupt Sunday’s stage

by Ben Atkins at 3:29 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Ash and lava floes could force the shortening of the race’s big showpiece

giro dWith half of the World’s cycling media currently readying their cliché-ometers for Sunday’s big stage to Mount Etna, the words “volcanic” and “eruption” might well be needed for the Sicilian volcano itself. As one of the most active volcanoes in the World, Etna woke up again overnight, spewing showers of molten lava and clouds of ash into the air from its eastern crater; the ash clouds have fallen on the city of Catania, at its foot, causing the temporary closure of its airport, and could cause disruptions the Giro stage this coming Sunday.

According to Tuttobiciweb.it, the situation is being monitored constantly, with race organisers hopeful that forced changes to the stage’s course will be minimal. Although much of the volcanic material is settling on the road to the finish line, it is hopeful that it will all be ready come Sunday.

“Sunday’s stage is not at risk,” said race director Angelo Zomegnan, “the affected part of Etna is only in the final four kilometres, but there are already clearance teams at work, who are cleaning up the road.

“We are ‘tranquillo’,” he added.

The stage’s course is due to climb Etna twice; first to the Rifuga Citelli on the north side, before descending to the base and climbing to the Rifuga Sapienza, to the south of the main crater. This second ascent is the one threatened by the volcanoes recent activity.

Should Etna’s activities mean that Sunday’s course is unable to get to the top on Sunday, it would not be the first time that Mother Nature has caused the shortening of one of the Giro’s most spectacular mountain stages. In 2006, heavy rain meant that the race was unable to pay its first visit to the steep, unsurfaced Plan de Corones; the stage instead had to finish on the Passo di Furcia, where the surfaced road stopped.

Should Etna’s stage be shortened, it would not only disappoint the organisers and fans, who will be denied part of the spectacle, but also many of the race’s favourites; many of who have been targeting this specific stage.

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