There are a number of issues to factor in here, but this is going to be a really hard stage regardless… The first thing is that you don’t know what the weather is going to be doing down there. It’s inland and you could just as easily have torrid heat as real, biting cold. They’re going to be up and down all day, with no respite. So there will be attack after attack, and that’s going to hurt. Then I know from experience that the final climb is really hard. It may not look it on paper, but I can assure you that the gradients are really irregular, so you’re going to see a natural selection.
In addition certain riders are going to be feeling the Giro by now, particularly guys who haven’t been used to riding a grand tour. My feeling is that a select group of GC guys will come in, but it’s quite hard to call.
Moment in time
The ski station at Campitello Matese has played host to six stage finishes and they’ve generally been belters. Take the first of them, for example, won by Varzi’s Carlo Chiappano. Chiappano was one of Italy’s very best gregari. Prior to 1969 he’d ridden seven seasons as a pro and had won just once.
Instead he’d been in the employ of guys such as Imerio Massignan, Italo Zilioli and Felice Gimondi, the cream of Italian cycling. This season he was supposed to ride for Gianni Motta, but Motta was out injured. Chiappano therefore had carte blanche – or rather carta bianca – at Tirreno-Adriatico and decided to go with the breaks. Somehow they kept staying away and he wound up on the podium in Marche wearing the winner’s jersey. It obviously lifted his spirits. At the Giro time trial in Tuscany, he amused the tifosi by riding round with an umbrella. The tifosi, but not the jury. They promptly fined him 50,000 lire. Miserable so-and-sos…
Stage 10 would include the first summit finish, at Campitello Matese. It was slated as the first GC sort-out, but debutant Pietro Tamiazzo wasn’t hanging around for that. He took off and rode 170 lonely kilometres, before being snared by Chiappano. He jumped out of an eight-man counter offensive with Ugo Colombo, Italy’s other gregario di lusso. Colombo fell away half way up and, as luck would have it, the favourites came over all timorous. As they dithered, Carlo Chiappano took his one and only Giro stage win and simultaneously settled his account with the jury. He who laughs last…