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The watershed time trial: at full speed towards Perugia


Stage number 7, an all-important individual time trial running from Foligno to Perugia, 38.5 breathtaking km that will prove decisive for all the big favourites one way or another. Once it is over, in fact, the riders and their teams will have a much clearer idea of how to approach the second week of racing, either more defensively or or on the attack, trying to make up for the time lost against the clock.

This is a fast time trial, suitable for the big specialists, at least in the first 32 km. Then, after reaching the town of Ponte Valleceppi, the road starts to rise all the way to the finish line in Perugia, giving riders less accustomed to long-distance straights a chance to overturn the verdict. The first 1500 metres of the category-4 climb are particularly scary, with double-figure gradients that could throw more than a few riders off the pace, especially the heavier ones. After that, the gradient is rather uneven, with false flat stretches alternating with sudden ups and downs leading to a rather unpredictable finale. As often in these cases, a bike change for some of the athletes cannot be ruled out, switching to a normal road bike to tackle the last insidious ramps.

Linked to Perugia is one of the countless memories of Alfonsina Strada – the first and only woman to have ridden in men’s cycling races and one of the pioneers of equality between men’s and women’s sports – who, exactly 100 years ago, experienced a very difficult day in the only Giro d’Italia she ever raced, falling victim to numerous mishaps that forced her to cross the finish line out of time, almost four hours after stage winner Giuseppe Enrici. Fortunately, she was allowed to continue the race.

The last time the pink caravan arrived in Perugia, however, was in 1985, with Ron Kiefel marking the first ever stage victory by an American in the Corsa Rosa.

History has it that, in 3 out of 4 cases, whoever won the Umbrian time trial then took home the Maglia Rosa: Bernard Hinault in 1982 won the Perugia-Assisi and then won the Giro, Tony Rominger in 1995 won the Foligno-Assisi and then won the Giro, Tom Dumoulin in 2017 won the Foligno-Montefalco and then won the Giro. Only Fausto Coppi, in 1951, won the Perugia-Terni but was then beaten by Fiorenzo Magni in the fight for the Maglia Rosa. In other words, whoever wins the Foligno-Perugia ITT on 10 May should definitely be kept an eye on in view of the final victory.

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