What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Rides The FINESTRE: Ouch!

Last week our PEZ-Man Alessandro Federico undertook a first-hand recon of the soon to be legendary (and most feared and unknown) climb of the 2005 Giro d’Italia – the Colle delle Finestre. This mother boasts 7+km on dirt road – and could easily decide the race. Check this out…

The Finestre will be crossed on May 28th during the 19th Stage of this year’s Giro – the day before the race finishes in Milano. The stage features first the climb of Sestriere, then the Colle delle Finestre, and finally a re-ascent of Sestriere to the finish. If the general classification is at all up for grabs, it will certainly be decisively sorted out by the end of the day.

If you’re in the Ciclamino jersey, hoping to make it into Milano for one last dash for glory – it will be a long, unbelievably hard day in the saddle.

The Finestre is 18.6 km long and gains 1694 meters in the first 15km. The average gradient is thus a VERY sturdy 9.1%. The max grade is around 12%. The Finestre would probably not be all that fearful if not for the fact that the final 7.5 km are a meager dirt track.

Alessandro will takes us through a photo tour of the soon-to-be-infamous Colle delle Finestre:

The first two kilometers are already past at this point – these first few kilometers are the most difficult (12-14%). At the third kilometer there is a sign posted stating that the road is closed. Despite the warning, I continued on and saw many other cyclists.

Between km’s 3 and 9 the road is very curvy and is thus the easiest part of the climb, but easy is a relative term – as the climb is always around 8-9%.

Leaving the forest the view was breathtaking. I had to stop a few times to enjoy the vistas, as the difficult gradient of the climb did not allow for much enjoyment otherwise. At this point, we are approaching the Colletto di Meana – where the sidewalk ends.

At the Colletto di Meana, the road ends and turns to a dirt track – and now we enter the intriguing part of the climb. Let’s go…

It is like Paradise on this part of the climb. But it’s still very difficult (9%), and at this point the head begins to hurt more than the legs, as finding a rideable trail through the mess is difficult.

Alessandro Federico enjoys the middle section of the climb. Yeah, right.

This is at the 12th kilometer, there are still 7 to go, and you’re 10 from Meana. The road begins to increasingly deteriorate as there is a lot of run-off from the melting snow, creating a lovely Paris-Roubaix-esque experience.

5 km from the top and the view is unbelievable – with a little luck, Alessandro might make the top.

Snow…Sun…Snow and Sun together means water. Water runs all over the road and creates an absolute mess. Motorcycles also aid in the trench-like effect at this point, as they leave deep tracks.

At this point, it is virtually impossible to proceed, but I continue – there are only 4 km to go though. I push on.

Either a hallucination or a guy in pink, passes me, but he has the same difficulties. 100 meters in this mess feels like 10 km.

Only 3 km to the top and I can go no further. I can see the fort above me, but it is just not possible to proceed further.

We hope the road will look like this come May 28th. PEZ has to believe that the road will be graded and at least made passable in the coming few weeks, because as it appears right now, the road is impossible. Just imagine the carnage when the race caravan rolls through.

It’ll be more fun than the Saturday night Monster Truck-Jams down at the local fairground – Yeee Haww!

What an absolute beautiful climb though. Climbs like these only find their way into a race as special and unique as the Giro d’Italia. We will never be so lucky to see something like this in the Tour de France. Make sure to mark your calendars and watch the coverage live on OLN – Saturday, May 28th. Then tune back to PEZ for race coverage, photos, and Signor Pez’s own assault on this behemoth of a climb.

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