After the reconnaissances of Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital), Ivan Basso has decided to have a go at what many consider the toughest climb in cycling. Today, he is set to test ride the Monte Zoncolan, which will be the last serious mountain stage in this year's Giro d'Italia.
Simoni commented in December that the climb was as tough as or tougher than the Mortirolo (at 10.5% average gradient over 12.4 km). "The last kilometre was the hardest I confronted in my life as a climber," he noted to La Gazzetta dello Sport regarding Zoncolan. From Ovaro, the 10.1 kilometre climb contains sections of 22, 20 and 18%, with an average gradient of 11.9%.
Yesterday, Discovery Channel's Basso tested his legs on the 42 kilometre Verona time trial, to take place on the penultimate day of the Giro d'Italia, June 2. Today, Il Varesino will ride Zoncolan two times, then Thursday and Friday he will tackle the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo.
As announced yesterday, Cunego will ride the Zoncolan on Friday, "We stopped with four [kilometres] to go," said Cunego last December after riding the climb with teammates. "The most difficult part will come in the middle, which we were able to cover. I have to say that I have never seen a climb so hard."
The 2007 Giro starts on May 12 from Sardegna.