I know this region well and I can guarantee it will be a really tough stage. You might look at the altitude – or lack of it – and think it’s easy, but I can assure you it won’t be. So it’s a bit like the previous day’s stage, only harder still.
It’s a difficult one to call because there are so many tough little climbs. If someone loses a wheel at the wrong time it could split up and that nature of it means it can happen at any time.
So my guess is that you’re going to have a really good race, with a group of less than 50 coming in. It could even be that it gets whittled down to 20 or so. It’s interesting because it means that the favourites won’t be able to arrive at the Giro and ride themselves into shape. If they’re not at their best they could easily get caught out here…
Moment in time
The 1978 Giro presaged a dramatic era in Italian cycling, but was overshadowed by a national tragedy. On 16 March Aldo Moro, Italy’s most urbane politician, had been kidnapped by the Red Brigades.
The previous year Francesco Moser win the World Championship. Immensely strong and likeable, Moser had become the leading light in Italian cycling. He began the 1978 Giro as red-hot favourite, but he’d need to reckon with a new reality.
1977 had seen the debut of ’Beppe Saronni, a rapier-quick, cocksure 19-year-old from Milan. He’d been runner-up at Flèche Wallonne, and winner of four Italian semi classics and the Tour of Sicily. While the rest of the Italian gruppo bent to Moser’s iron will, Saronni loved nothing more than to rub him up the wrong way. Giro director Vincenzo Torriani declaimed, “Even Merckx wasn’t this good at his age.” By the time the Giro came round, their mutual antagonism was palpable. Stage 2, a lumpy 195km hike from Novi Ligure to La Spezia, saw them go hammer and tongs. However, as Saronni blasted gleefully home to his first Giro stage win, the news all of Italy had dreaded finally broke: Aldo Moro, the voice of reason amid the political maelstrom that was 1970s Italy, had been murdered by the Red Brigades.