The Giro d'Italia heads to the Dolomites mountains on Tuesday, where the first mountaintop finish awaits the riders on the race's centennial edition. Stage four from Padova to San Martino di Castrozza features two climbs counting towards the climber's classification, the Croce d'Aune and the final climb up to San Martino di Castrozza.
Although the last ascent is 13.7 kilometres long, its average gradient is not overly difficult (5.5 per cent, with maximum slopes up to 10 per cent). Therefore it may not create enormous time differences between the overall favourites, but it could be a first indicator of who may not be able to contend for the Grand Tour victory.
With the main favourites all within one minute of each other, tactics may be a factor in how the race develops. Teams Astana (Levi Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong), LPR Brakes (Danilo Di Luca), Lampre (Damiano Cunego), Cervélo (Carlos Sastre), Liquigas (Ivan Basso) and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni (Gilberto Simoni) are all within touching distance of maglia rosa, but some may not want the race responsibility of wearing the precious garment too soon.
Stage three winner, and current GC leader Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes) would like to pass on the jersey to his teammate Di Luca. "I think [Danilo] Di Luca can take it," he told Cyclingnews.
"We did a good team time trial [fourth best, 22 seconds behind Columbia-Highroad] so we have some advantage over the others. I see Armstrong and Leipheimer riding strong, so it would be good to have a minute's advantage going into the [Stage 12] Cinque Terre time trial," Petacchi added.