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Giro d’Italia 2023 stage seven preview

Giro d'Italia 2023 stage seven preview

Distance: 218km
Start location: Capua
Finish location: Gran Sasso d’Italia
Start time: 11:15 CEST
Finish time (approx): 17:14 CEST

The Corno Grande peak of the Gran Sasso massif is the highest point of the Apennines. Though there are higher peaks to be found elsewhere within the national boundaries of Italy — up north of the Po Valley in the Alps, and offland in Sicily’s Mount Etna — Corno Grande peak of the Gran Sasso massif is the highest point on the Italian Peninsula. At almost 3,000 metres above sea level, the views at the top are awe-inspiring, where you can witness the entire width of the nation, from the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west to the Adriatic coast in the east. 

Gran Sasso is therefore one of closest places Italians can get to the heavens, which may or may not be the reason why former pope John Paul II used to visit here and to take a break from his papal duties, and sometimes even go skiing. The current pope, Francis, also visited the nearby provincial capital L’Aquila last year, albeit for more formal reasons. He became the first pontiff in over 700 years to preside over the local tradition known as the Celestinian Forgiveness, an annual commemoration of when, in 1294, Pope Celestine V granted a plenary indulgence to anyone who crossed through the Holy Door of the Basilica of Collemaggio. 

Stage seven profile sourced on the Giro d’Italia website 

To get to the top of Gran Sasso at the end of stage seven, the riders will of course have to spend a lot of time climbing, and the 45km road to the summit is an especially long climax to stage seven. The organisers have officially split the mountain into two distinct sections, the first being the category two summit of Calascio, then the final road to Gran Sasso rated category one, but for the riders it will feel like one, cruelly unrelenting effort, with only the minor relief of a few false flats on the way.

The gradients are at least not too steep, with the road to Calascio rising steadily at 6%, and the majority of the finale to Gran Sasso not even rising above 5%. But things get really hard in the final 4km, when the gradient ramps up to over 8%, and the air starts thinning as the riders exceed 2,000 metres in altitude. 

Read more: The hardest climbs of the 2023 Giro d’Italia

It was on this steep finale that the action kicked off in 2018, the last time a Giro stage finished with these climbs. Wearing the pink jersey, Simon Yates rode away along with Thibaut Pinot,…

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