Thursday, January 27, 2022
HomeDiariesGiro d'Italia 2011, Stage 7: Maddaloni - Montevergine di Mercogliano 110km

Giro d’Italia 2011, Stage 7: Maddaloni – Montevergine di Mercogliano 110km

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We’re on the percorso early, today.

Montevergine di Mercogliano
Remember we said yesterday where not to book your holidays?

Montevergine is the destination – the first real mountain top finish of the Giro.

At the top it’s 1,260 metres above sea level, it’s 17.1 K long with a total altitude gain of 856 metres, average gradient 5% and maximum gradient 10%.

Montevergine di Mercogliano
We’ve got altitude.
Montevergine di Mercogliano
It still doesn’t seem real that Wouter is not in the bunch.
Montevergine di Mercogliano
Ricordano con affecto, for sure.

It’s always good to ‘work the start’ – get some pictures and quotes in the 90 minutes or so between the team buses arriving and the roll out but today we just don’t have time.

Due to the nature of the percorso this year – a headlong breenge down the western seaboard of Italy, with the odd ‘squiggly bit’ into the dirt or hills – there are significant distances between the finish of one stage and the start of the next.

Montevergine di Mercogliano
We pass a shrine to Padre Pio; the saintly, late priest has a strong connection with our last port of call, Cassino.

Our game plan has been to hole up half way – drive a bit after the stage, then drive a bit before the stage, next morning.

This has worked well enough, but today there’s an added complication up at Montevergine – essential vehicles are the only ones allowed up there.

Team cars which are following the race and Giro organisation cars.

The T-shirt sales vans aren’t even allowed – that shows how serious it is.

When the race passes through Mercogliano there are 15 K to go; for anyone not on a bike or on foot, there are around two K to go – by funicular.

Montevergine di Mercogliano
The funicular can be anything but fun with a huge crowd.
Montevergine di Mercogliano
The guy from Farnese Vini who has the riders’ capes in musettes for the drop off the summit, ain’t happy about having to wait, and now everyone knows.

Dave and I did this a few years back; and whilst getting up the hill was fine, getting off it was horrific – the queue for the funicular was solid back up the access stairs to the main road and there were some ugly scenes.

This year we resolved that we couldn’t wait the 15 minutes that the gruppetto would be down – we’d watch the leaders from our vantage point at 600 to go, then make for the funicular.