A stage for Simoni
By Gregor Brown
Filippo Pozzato previewed the Vesuvio mountain stage of the 2009 Giro d'Italia. The Italian of Katusha believes that the final mountaintop finish, two days before the race ends on May 31, will suit two-time race winner Gilberto Simoni.
"I think it is a stage for Simoni because of its toughness," he said to Cyclingnews after checking out the climb on Monday. "We will have to wait and see if he is in the classification battle to know if he can go on from that stage to win the overall."
Simoni won the race overall in 2001 and 2003, and finished fourth overall in 2008. He has eight career stage wins in the race.
The 2009 Giro d'Italia stage race, May 9 to 31, has six mountaintop finishes: San Martino di Castrozza (stage 4), Alpe di Siusi (5), San Luca (14), Monte Petrano (16), Block Haus (17) and Vesuvio (19). The "Mount Vesuvius" volcano comes at the end of a 164-kilometre day. The 13-kilometre climb, just outside of Naples, could set the classification in stone before the final day's time trial in Rome.
"It is really hard at the beginning, where there are few different switchbacks, that is where the hard gradients. Then it goes on and on."
The Giro d'Italia first used the mountain 50 years ago. The organisers staged a time trial on the slopes, which Charly Gaul won on his way to that year's overall classification. The second and last time was in 1990, when Eduardo Chozas conquered the climb at the end of a 190-kilometre stage.