Nestled in the heart of Tuscany, the summit at Abetone comes after another leg-sapping day in the saddle, which will see the peloton cover an undulating 152km from La Spezia, yesterday's stage finish. The first major summit comes at 57.6km, with the crest of the Foce Carpinelli, a Category 3 climb, and as the road works its way east, and inland, the Giro enters increasingly mountainous terrain.
The final climb to Abetone (1386m) is a Category 2 summit finish, 17.3km in length at an average grade of 5.4 per cent. The toughest sections come just three kilometres in to the mountain's early travails, with a deceptively simple prelude, hiding a stiff five kilometre section that will set the dynamic of how the peloton tackles its sinewed roads.
With the time differences tight at the top of the Giro's general classification the race for pink will be very interesting in tonight's stage. Simon Clarke heads into the day as the Maglia Rosa, but it's unlikely the Australian will be able to hang on if the big contenders push hard on Abetone. Clarke's Orica-GreenEDGE team-mate however, Esteban Chaves, could be a dark horse to gain the jersey in Clarke's stead, the Colombian a gifted climber, who has only to hold the wheels of the featherweights around him to ride into pink.
That 'simple' task will still take some doing though. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), fourth overall at 17 seconds to Clarke, has shown little so far, keeping his powder dry, but a stage such as this could see the Spaniard fly. Fabio Aru (Astana) was twitchy yesterday in the run to La Spezia, and at 23 seconds, will be in the hunt for pink, and at least the stage win, while Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) will both be looking to peg back time.
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