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Contador, Scarponi and Sastre fear Giro d'Italia mountain finishes

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The Gardeccia climb ends with a dirt section

The Gardeccia climb ends with a dirt section
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Dolomites offer a spectacular backdrop to the Giro d'Italia

The Dolomites offer a spectacular backdrop to the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Contador takes a break during his riding in the Dolomites

Contador takes a break during his riding in the Dolomites
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The tunnel near the summit of the Zoncolan

The tunnel near the summit of the Zoncolan
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Contador stopped to take a photo of the Crostis

Contador stopped to take a photo of the Crostis
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Contador rode in the snow on the Zoncolan too

Contador rode in the snow on the Zoncolan too
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Passo Fedaia is still covered in snow

The Passo Fedaia is still covered in snow
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The hairpins of the Zoncolan are steep

The hairpins of the Zoncolan are steep
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Contador takes a deep breath on the Zoncolan

Contador takes a deep breath on the Zoncolan
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Crostis is about to become of the great climbs of the Giro d'Italia

The Crostis is about to become of the great climbs of the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Crostis cuts through the trees

The Crostis cuts through the trees
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Contador climbs the Fedaia, also known as the Marmolada

Contador climbs the Fedaia, also known as the Marmolada
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Contador was worried about the Crostis descent

Contador was worried about the Crostis descent
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD)

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The riders face this rough dirt road on the Gardeccia

The riders face this rough dirt road on the Gardeccia
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Scarponi on the dirt section

Scarponi on the dirt section
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The trio ride the Gardeccia

The trio ride the Gardeccia
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD)

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Michele Scarponi, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Marco Marzano (Lampre - ISD) climb the Gardeccia

Michele Scarponi, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Marco Marzano (Lampre - ISD) climb the Gardeccia
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Contador on the Crostis

Contador on the Crostis
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Contador climbed the Gardeccia at near race speed

Contador climbed the Gardeccia at near race speed
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alberto Contador on the Zoncolan

Alberto Contador on the Zoncolan
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Alberto Contador, Michele Scarponi and Carlos Sastre have all identified the trilogy of mountain finishes in the Dolomites as the decisive moments in the battle for overall victory in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

All three riders and their teammates have recently completed reconnaissance trips to the Dolomites to study the climbs of stage 13, 14 and 15 that end with mountain finishes on the Grossglockner, Monte Zoncolan and Gardeccia/Val id Fassa.

The descent of the Crostis worried Contador more than the climb to the finish on the Zoncolan. He admitted he had never seen anything like the dirt road section at the top and the near vertical drop off at the side of the narrow road. “It scares me,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport who followed him during his ride.

He was told that the race organisers will erect safety nets to catch any riders that may crash on the descent but said: “That doesn’t go close to the limit, it goes over it.”

Contador tested a gear of 34x32 for the final 2.5km dirt road section of the Crostis before checking his tyre pressure and beginning the very technical descent. He joked: “The best thing could be to change bikes at the top and use a mountain bike. We have to hope it snows that day so that we can’t get up here. It’s a great place but to have a barbeque.”

On the second day of his trip, Contador and Saxo Bank-SunGard teammates Dani Navarro and Jesus Hernandez studied much of stage 15 from Conegliano to Gardeccia/Val di Fassa.

It includes the Passo Giau –the highest climb in this year’s race (2236m) and so offering the Cima Coppi prize, the Passo Fedaia (2057m) and then the 10 per cent climb to the finish at the Rifugio Gardeccia (1948m) which ends with a kilometre on dirt roads.

“I think there must be a total of about 6500m of climbing. I’ve never done that much in my life. And there’s the distance too: 230km. And the fact we do it after the stage to the Zoncolan,” Contador said. “If anyone is still alive after the Crostis and the Zoncolan, this will seem like a walk in the park.”

Scarponi worried by the Gardeccia, Sastre

Michele Scarponi studied the Dolomite stages after winning the Giro del Trentino. He was stunned by the Gardeccia, the fifth climb of the stage after 220km of racing.

“The Gardeccia is a very hard climb. I thought it’d be different with a more constant gradient but right from the start it’s really steep before easing in the middle and then kicking up again in the last three kilometres,” he said.

“It’ll make a difference after two weeks of racing and after a hard stage. It might not decide the Giro but it’ll show who can win it.”

Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre (Geox-TMC) studied the key climbs and carefully selected equipment and gears for the climbs.