Stefano Garzelli and Dario Cioni (Liquigas-Bianchi) have been exploring the mountains of the upcoming Giro d'Italia recently. Joined by Vladimir Miholjevic and Andrea Noè, the riders reconnoitred the 12th, 13th, 17th and 19th stages of the 2005 Giro.
"None of the eight Giros that I have participated in featured this much difficulties," Garzelli said. "It will be a massacre." The winner of the Giro in 2000 also believes that the 11th stage finishing in Zoldo Alto may be the most decisive one for general classification. "The stage to Zoldo Alto will be a surprise for some - beware of underestimating it. While the Passo Cereda is reasonable to ride, the Duran is 13 km long and necessitates a 21 or a 23. There's a difficult and technical descent and then, the final climb with hairpins around 10 percent."
The 19th stage to Sestrière, one day before the final arrival in Milan, includes the Colle delle Finestre, which Garzelli described as the hardest climb of this year's Giro d'Italia. "There are slopes around 14 percent gradient on very tight roads, and to top it off, the final ascent to Sestrière." But also the 13th stage to Ortisei impressed him. "It's very hard and very long," he said. "Of the five climbs that day, the Passo delle Erbe will be the most difficult." The climb is more than 15 km long and covers more than 1000 m of altitude difference.