We could be in for a stage that is best suited to fast and sturdy riders, and the roll of honour of the race would seem to confirm this
The concretions in these unique underground caves, which are large enough to contain the Duomo of Milan at points, give no clue as to how the stage is likely to be or evolve. The stalagmites of the so-called ‘Giants’ complex, rising up to 20 metres, are thousands of years old. We could be in for a stage that is best suited to fast and sturdy riders, and the roll of honour of the race would seem to confirm this, because the list of winners in Ascoli Piceno includes the likes of Di Paco, Bontempi and Petacchi. Someone you would really call a giant. If you look at other concretions, however, you may get a different hint. There are ‘camels’ and ‘dromedaries’. Should we expect a load of work ahead for water-carrier domestiques, then? How about the ‘bacon strips’, the ‘leopard skins’, the ‘organ pipes’, the ‘obelisks’ and the ‘witches castles’? Are they hinting at anything? The womb of the earth does not appear to be fit for fortune telling. We should rather go back to the surface. The rough and bumpy surface, at times the setting of gruelling trials. To recall a really impressive one, we should go back in time to the dawn of the cycling era, when the Giro was a points race, and the Maglia Rosa was yet to come.