Let the Dolomites begin

After months of anticipation, the week of the Dolomites is finally upon riders at the Giro, and for five days they'll do battle with some of the highest peaks in stage racing. There will be more than 175km of climbing, covering mountain passes such as Monte Bondone, Staulanza, Fedaia, Pordo, San Pellegrino, Gavia and Mortirolo. Speaking to sportwereld.be about the abundance of climbing in the final week, Belgian champion Serge Baguet (Quick Step) said yesterday, "It's a little too much of something good - well, there's a price to pay [for that]."

It's unknown whether racers will actually be prepared for the five days ahead, with extreme grades and the likelihood of bad weather making it an arduous task for most of the riders. Earlier in the year Gilberto Simoni could only scout some of the climbs on his mountain bike, while Damiano Cunego could cautiously visit the stage 17 Plan de Corones only a month ago.

Many in the peloton aren't happy with what this final week holds, including Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevere, who is also chairman of the association of professional cycling teams. "We're going back to Roman times," said Lefevere, "We make ethical charters for riders' well-being while they go and make the courses longer and more difficult." He continued by outlining that along with reservations about the parcours, the proposed double stage day had to be abandoned and that concerns over the night train transfer from Belgium to Italy were also addressed.

"What do you think will happen on the Plan de Corones?" saked Lefevere. "Ten riders will make it through and the rest will have to push through the spectators or wait for the next vehicle coming through? This sort of thing happened last year on [the Col de] Finestre - if they want spectacular racing for the fans, they'll also have trampled ground for the riders to race on as a result," he added. "The racers should say 'f*** you' and come down at the foot of the climb!"

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