Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stage 5: San Martino di Castrozza - Alpe di Siusi 125Km

Wednesday, 13 May, 2009, Stage 5 official description:
This short stage unfolds entirely in the Trentino-Alto Adige region, against a backdrop of continuous and spectacular beauty in a landscape surrounded by Dolomite groups and ridges.

Immediately after leaving San Martino di Castrozza is the climb to the Rolle pass, around eight kilometres of steadily rising road before relaxing on a long downhill stretch. The stage passes through the heart of the natural park of Paneveggio, with the most extensive forest in the entire Alpine range, followed quickly by Bellamonte and then Predazzo, an important centre in the Val di Fiemme with a great sporting tradition in all forms of skiing. The panorama features the imposing Lagorai and Latemar ranges. The stage passes through the town of Tesero (Alpe di Pampeago, a traditional finish line of the Giro d’Italia, is nearby, towards the Lavazè pass) and then Cavalese. This is the capital of the valley, with deep-rooted traditions and an endearingly-named town hall, the Palazzo della Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme (“Palace of the Magnificent Community of Fiemme”). Cavalese is also the finish line of the Marcialonga cross-country ski race. Then we come to the province of Bolzano by way of San Lugano, and the long descent through the Adige valley into the town of Ora. This leg is usually taken by the Giro in the opposite direction. After Ora the race takes the Strada del Vino (wine road) for Caldaro, then Appiano. The route passes through a setting of vineyards, orchards and picturesque buildings with the severe profile of Mount Penegal in the background, before arriving in Bolzano, the province’s capital city featuring a great many historic and tourist monuments. This is a meeting point of different cultures, well known and appreciated both in Italy and further afield. From Prato to Isarco the road starts climbing steadily, with variable gradients, passing through Fié allo Sciliar, Siusi and then beginning the final stretch of the climb towards Alpe di Siusi, in the municipality of Castelrotto. The long climb ends on a splendid high plain of around fifty square kilometres with sunlit meadows and woods, as enjoyable in summer as it is in winter with its Alpine and cross-country skiing.

The natural park of Sciliar, which takes its name from the Dolomite group with compact walls featuring towering crags, is protected by the province of Bolzano. One side of the high plain drops steeply into Val Gardena while the other side offers spectacular views of the Sciliar, Catinaccio and Sassolungo mountain groups.

The entire district features very good tourist facilities, well integrated with the landscape, which ensure visitors will have a very pleasant stay. There’s everything from health spas, endless sporting facilities and things to see and do, not to mention culture, excellent food and wine and pure, old-fashioned, simple fun.

This stage concludes the Giro d’Italia’s traditional visit to the Dolomites (as we announced at the beginning of this year). Pink mountains for a pink race: now that’s appropriate!

After the Giro we'll get back to "regular programming": everything from A to Z about Italian cycling. Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact veronaman@gmail.com.

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