Friday, October 15, 2010
Zoncolan: Returning for 2011 Giro d'Italia
The brutal Zoncolan ascent will be included for the fourth time in the 2011 edition of the Giro d'Italia. It will be included in the stage of May 21, 2011, again from the side of Ovaro (as it was this year).
The stage will begin in Lienz, Austria, and the riders will have climbed over four passes and traveled 210 km before arriving at the Zoncolan.
The previous inclusions of the Zoncolan were in 2003, 2007, and 2010. Gilberto Simoni won in 2003 and 2007, and Ivan Basso won this year.
The mountain can be climbed on three roads: one from Ovaro, another from Sutrio, and a third from Priola.
West from Ovaro: This is a very demanding climb, and one of the most difficult in Europe, usually compared to the Alto de El Angliru. It was featured for the first time in the 2007 Giro d'Italia. The climb starts in Ovaro in the Gorto valley, and is 10.1 kilometres (6.3 mi) long at an average of 11.9% with an elevation gain of 1,210 metres (3,970 ft) and a maximum gradient of 22%. The real climb however starts at Liariis, 8.5 kilometres (5.3 mi) from the summit. Shortly after the village, the road disappears into forest and gains 900 metres (3,000 ft) in the next 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). After this section, the road passes through three short tunnels, before a series of steep switchbacks immediately beneath the summit. The former rough asphalt between Liariis and the tunnels was replaced in 2007; that between the last tunnel and the summit had already been resurfaced by autumn 2005. The tunnels are now lit.
East from Sutrio: This is less demanding than the road from Ovaro but it is also a very difficult climb. It was featured for the first time in the 1997 Giro Donne. The actual climb to the summit starts at Sutrio and is 13.5 kilometres (8.4 mi) long at an average of 9% with an elevation gain of 1,210 metres (3,970 ft) and a maximum gradient being 23%. The most demanding section is the final 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) with an average gradient of 13%.
East from Priola: This is the original old road which was replaced by the newer road from Sutrio described above. The two roads combine around 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) below the summit. The road from Priola was first asphalted in autumn 2005. From bottom to top, the 8.9 kilometers (5.5 mi) long road gains an astonishing 1,140 meters (3,740 ft), meaning an average gradient of 12.8%. The lower part has sharp hairpin bends and is at times very steep. The climb is briefly flat after merging with the newer road, with the remaining 3.5 kilometers (2.2 mi) containing several ramps of up to 23% steepness.
Read the story, and see maps, here of a mere mortal's ride up the Zoncolan.
The Giro d'Italis presentation is October 23rd.
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