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The key mountain stages of the Giro may, as ever, be crammed into the final week, but that doesn’t mean the opening phase of the race is without its obstacles. Stage 4 of the race brings the gruppo through the Apennines with some 3,500m of total climbing spread across three classified ascents.
The Passo delle Crocelle brings the Giro above 1,000m of altitude for the first time, and it’s followed soon afterwards by the Valico di Monte Carruozzo. Neither is the most daunting ascent of the race, but the roads are heavy and tortuous in these parts, and controlling the race will not be straightforward.
The decisive action is likely to come on the final ascent from Montella to Lago Laceno, which last featured on the Giro in 2012, when Domenico Pozzovivo claimed the biggest victory of his career with a solo effort.
Roger De Vlaeminck was the first winner here in 1976, but the Giro’s most famous visit came in 1998, when Marco Pantani set home hearts aflutter with a stinging acceleration, only to be caught and passed by maglia rosa Alex Zülle when the road flattened out in the final 3km.
That same epilogue around the lake features in 2023, but the preceding climb of the Colle Molella itself (9.6km at 6.2% with pitches of 12%) is demanding enough to force a selection among the GC contenders.
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