After an initial 25 kilometre section of flat roads, this mountain stage doesn’t feature one single metre that isn't either uphill or down. Just past Pistoia, the route climbs up Passo della Collina on wide and winding roads and across the Apennines.
After dropping quickly into Porretta Terme, the route climbs up again to tackle the Pietracolora category 3 climb, leading into Valle del Samone. Here the route starts to climb and descend constantly over 70 kilometres with a wide range of difficulty in the climbing all the way up to the Pian del Falco Category 1 summit.
The climb is long at 16.3 kilometres, with an average gradient of 5.2% it sounds straightforward, but it is deceptively easy in the early kilometres. The final part of the ascent features long stretches with double-digit gradients, topping out at a nasty 14%. With only 16 kilometres left from the top to the finish, it could be the springboard for those riders that lost time in the time trial to attack.
The final kilometres comprise a fast and technical descent that leads from the Pian del Falco summit to the base of the final climb. The descent gets quite technical towards the end of the drop from the mountain with twists and turns all the way up into urban Fanano.
The final challenge of the stage is the seven kilometre climb to Sestola, with consistent gradients of five to six percent all the way to the finish.
With the harder climb of Pian del Falco the major test of the stage, a lot will depend on how the general classification favourites approach the stage. What is certain is that a lot of teams will want to get in the breakaway. It will have a good chance of winning as the terrain is very difficult for a chasing peloton to make much headway and teams with protected riders will want to get domestiques up the road so that they can be of use to their team leaders tactically later in the race.