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Gilberto Simoni knows how to conquer Zoncolan, as he did here in 2003. But seven years on is he still up to the task?
A finish in Trieste also on the cards
The final route of the 2014 Giro d'Italia will be unveiled on Monday October 7, the day after this year's Il Lombardia race, but the Corsa Rosa could be decided with a double climb of the Zoncolan, considered one of the toughest climbs used in professional racing, using the steep road up from Priola for the first time.
The Messaggero Veneto newspaper has claimed that RCS Sport technical director Mauro Vegni will make a final decision before the end of the month but RCS Sport appears inspired by the success of the double climb of Alpe d'Huez during this year's Tour de France.
According to the report in the local Italian media, the 2014 Giro d'Italia will climb the Zoncolan from Ovaro and then descend to the valley before climbing back up the Zoncolan from the never before used Priola road. Local organisers Enzo Cainero is behind the plans for the double climb of the Zoncolan and has support of the local and regional councils who would fund the stages and help with public safety. Cainero and RCS Sport refused to comment on the reports of the Zoncolan in the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
The Giro d'Italia has finished at the top of the Zoncolan in 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2011. Gilberto Simon won in 2003, climbing from the Sutrio side and again in 2007 from the Ovaro side. Ivan Basso won was first to the top in 2010 on the way to winning his second Giro d'Italia, while Igor Anton won in 2011, again riding the Ovaro road.
The double ascent would include what has been dubbed the Zoncolan 3: the road from Priola. The Messaggero Vento claims the Priola climb is nine kilometres long and has an average gradient of 13% with some sections at 23%. It is a narrow track that zigzags up the side of the Zoncolan but is well surfaced. Team will likely use motorbikes to give their riders mechanical support instead of team cars.
A Trieste finish?
The Messaggero Vento newspaper suggests that the 2014 Giro d'Italia could be decided on the Zoncolan with a finish in nearby city Trieste, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the city returning under Italian control.
This year the Giro d'Italia turned it's back on the traditional finish in Milan and the Giro d'Italia ended in Brescia. It seems that Milan is keen to host the finish of the Giro d'Italia again to help promote the 2015 Expo in the city. However Turin is also reported to be keen to host the finish.
The 2104 Giro d'Italia will start in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, with other stages to Armagh and Dublin before transferring to Italy for he rest of the race.