Stage 6: Grotte di Frasassi-Ascoli Piceno
Date: May 13, 2021
Stage start: 12:55 p.m. CEST
Stage type: Mountains
The riders face their sternest test so far, with 3,400 metres of vertical gain on the menu for this stage that also features the first summit finish, on top of the San Giacomo pass. This is where Mexico’s Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio won on the only previous visit in 2002, although that stage ascended the other side of the San Giacomo. A significant majority of the climbing is packed into the latter half of the stage, which begins at Grotte di Frasassi, one of Italy’s most impressive cave systems.
With a much more benign stage likely to be decided between the sprinters to follow, the GC favourites are sure to test each other on the San Giacomo, which should result in a fascinating duel featuring the likes of Egan Bernal, Remco Evenepoel, Thibaut Pinot, Mikel Landa and Simon Yates, to name just a handful of those who’ll be targeting the maglia rosa.
The stage heads south from the start, running between the high ridges of the Apennines, gaining height steadily. Beyond the first intermediate sprint at Pieve Torina, the climbing becomes more serious, particularly once the route reaches the first big hurdle of the day, the second-category Forca di Gualdo, which averages 7.4 per cent over 10.4 kilometres, its middle section a couple of points higher than the mean. After a very short descent, the riders will be climbing again, this time to the third-category Forca di Presta.
There’s a long descent from this pass, which is quite steep to begin with, but then more moderate, continuing all the way to Ascoli Piceno at the foot of the final ascent. At close to 16km, it’s a lengthy challenge. The first two-thirds of the pass aren’t too taxing, averaging around 5 per cent. The real test begins at Colle San Marco, where the gradient immediately becomes much more acute, running at more than 9 per cent for the first kilometre and only easing a tad once it goes beyond that point.
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