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Giro d'Italia: Looking back at Mount Etna - Gallery

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The magisterial Mount Etna

The magisterial Mount Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Acacia Da Silva took the stage win and the pink jersey on Etna at the 1989 Giro

Acacia Da Silva took the stage win and the pink jersey on Etna at the 1989 Giro (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador and Jose Rujano climb Etna at the 2011 Giro

Alberto Contador and Jose Rujano climb Etna at the 2011 Giro (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador attacks on the 2011 Giro stage to Etna

Alberto Contador attacks on the 2011 Giro stage to Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The relative calm before the arriving storm of riders at the 2017 Giro on Etna

The relative calm before the arriving storm of riders at the 2017 Giro on Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A solemn scene on Mount Etna

A solemn scene on Mount Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Big crowds at the finish on Etna at the 2017 Giro

Big crowds at the finish on Etna at the 2017 Giro (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Jan Polanc triumphs on Etna on stage 4 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia

Jan Polanc triumphs on Etna on stage 4 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Bettini)
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The 2017 Giro heads towards a cloud-covered Mount Etna

The 2017 Giro heads towards a cloud-covered Mount Etna (Image credit: Bettini)
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Awaiting the arrival of the 2017 Giro on Sicily's spectacular Mount Etna

Awaiting the arrival of the 2017 Giro on Sicily's spectacular Mount Etna (Image credit: Bettini)
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A small group has just 200m to go at the 2017 Giro on Mount Etna

A small group has just 200m to go at the 2017 Giro on Mount Etna (Image credit: Bettini)
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Big crowds patiently await the arrival of the riders on Etna at the 2017 Giro

Big crowds patiently await the arrival of the riders on Etna at the 2017 Giro (Image credit: Bettini)
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Alberto Contador pushes on alone, leaving Jose Rujano behind at the 2011 Giro on Mount Etna

Alberto Contador pushes on alone, leaving Jose Rujano behind at the 2011 Giro on Mount Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador looks back at the dropped Jose Rujano on Etna in the 2011 Giro

Alberto Contador looks back at the dropped Jose Rujano on Etna in the 2011 Giro (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Heading up to Mount Etna at the 2011 Giro d'Italia

Heading up to Mount Etna at the 2011 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riders emerge from Mount Etna's volcanic rock at the 2011 Giro

Riders emerge from Mount Etna's volcanic rock at the 2011 Giro (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Riders approach the finish at the 2011 Giro stage to Mount Etna

Riders approach the finish at the 2011 Giro stage to Mount Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spectacular scenes at the 2011 Giro as the peloton heads towards Mount Etna

Spectacular scenes at the 2011 Giro as the peloton heads towards Mount Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Jose Rujano on the attack on Mount Etna at the 2011 Giro d'Italia

Jose Rujano on the attack on Mount Etna at the 2011 Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Giro peloton rides through the volcanic rocks on Mount Etna in 2011

The Giro peloton rides through the volcanic rocks on Mount Etna in 2011 (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Jose Rujano sticks close to Alberto Contador's wheel at the 2011 Giro on Mount Etna

Jose Rujano sticks close to Alberto Contador's wheel at the 2011 Giro on Mount Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador tries to shake Jose Rujano at the 2011 Giro on Mount Etna

Alberto Contador tries to shake Jose Rujano at the 2011 Giro on Mount Etna (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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High up on Mount Etna at the 2011 Giro, Alberto Contador assesses Jose Rujano's form

High up on Mount Etna at the 2011 Giro, Alberto Contador assesses Jose Rujano's form (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The 2017 Giro approaches the top of Mount Etna

The 2017 Giro approaches the top of Mount Etna (Image credit: Bettini)
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Stephen Roche exhausted at the summit of Mount Etna in 1989.

Stephen Roche exhausted at the summit of Mount Etna in 1989. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The GC contenders crossing the Mount Etna finish line on stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia

The GC contenders crossing the Mount Etna finish line on stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Thursday's sixth stage of this 2018 Giro d'Italia once again features a summit finish on the magisterial Mount Etna. It will be the fifth time that the volcanic ascent has featured in the race, adding to the 2017, 2011, 1989 and 1967 editions.

Italian Franco Bitossi holds the honour of being the first rider to win atop Etna. He had pedigree, too: as the winner of the Giro's mountains jersey at the three previous editions of the race, his win on stage 7 from Catania to Etna was no great surprise. Bitossi had already won Tirreno-Adriatico that season, and would win the Tour of Lombardy later in the year.

But in 1967, his Etna stage victory was as good as it got, as he faded to finish 15th overall in Milan, some 35 minutes in arrears of winner Felice Gimondi. In the green mountains jersey competition, dominated by Spain's Aurelio Gonzalez, Bitossi was a disappointing third, on equal points with Gimondi and a 21-year-old Eddy Merckx.

Portugal's Acacio Da Silva would take the stage win at Etna at the 1989 Giro. It was the race's second stage, again starting in Catania, and Da Silva out-sprinted Luis Herrera and Tony Rominger for the victory – and with it, due to the stage coming so early on in the race, the pink leader's jersey, which he'd lose to Italy's Silvano Contini after the team time trial the next day.

The Giro's 2011 climb up Mount Etna was arguably the most exciting of them all so far. Alberto Contador took the race by the scruff of the neck on stage 9, and only Venezuela's José Rujano, having attacked lower down the slope, could stay with him. And he, too, would be shaken loose with 1.5km to go.

For arguably the first time, the climb was key to the final GC: Contador took the pink jersey there, and held it all the way to Milan. He was then disqualified nine months' later, having tested positive for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. Michele Scarponi was handed the 2011 Giro title, and Rujano was awarded the stage win for his efforts.

Last year, stage 4 set out towards Mount Etna from Cefalu, with the prospect of seeing who might emerge from the favourites as real contenders for the Giro title. And while UAE Team Emirates' Jan Polanc will quite rightly dine out on the day he conquered the volcano, having escaped from a four-man breakaway that had established itself just two kilometres into the 181km stage, it was all considered a bit of a damp squib as a headwind discouraged attacks and the GC favourites chose to keep their powder dry.

Just like in 2017, this year's visit to Mount Etna provides the first real test for those riders with designs on a high overall placing in Rome on May 27. Although some would say that last year's stage to Etna didn't live up to its billing, might it be a different story during stage 6 on Thursday?