After a long flat warm up, I rode the rolling hills from Valeriano, Pinzano to Flagonia. Here I turned away from the Giro route, and followed the Strada di Bottecchia along the Fiume Tagliamento, past the cliffs of the grifoni sanctuary at Lago Cornino, to Lago Cavazzo . Then northwest to the Tolmezzo bridge, and the start of the climb.
I was pleasantly surprised- there was hardly any traffic on this route up the climb. I saw numerous bikes zooming down the hill, but I passed only 4 0r 5 bikes headed uphill. There were a few canyon-racer motorcyclists, and a few cars. Very peaceful. The climb itself is excellent- smooth pavement, steady 7-9% grade, immersed in forest.
At the top there was a nice crowd of a few hundred, mainly picnic-ing, very laid back folks. I found a nice spot on a grassy knoll and kicked back waiting for the peleton. After awhile the breakaway arrived, 6 guys led by Pineau (Quickstep) and Sijmens (Cofidis). About 9 minutes later the bunch arrived, headed up by Liquigas and Ivan Basso, closely followed by the maglia rosa, David Arroyo Duran (Caisse d'Arpagne). The only other guy I recognize in the pictures I shot is Italian national champion Filippo Pozzato (Katusha).
After they passed, I decided to hurry home, as the skies were threatening. Quite hectic descending with all the bikes, motorcycles, cars, hikers, etc. After the road leveled out and widened a bit things calmed down. Then it was an easy cruise home, aided by a tailwind.
When I arrived panting and sweating in the cortile, my sweet neighbor Nerina told me "i corridori arrivano a Zoncolan!" and invited me in to watch. It was fantastic seeing Ivan Basso's victory, followed by Cadel Evans and Michele Scarponi. What a wonderful day for Friuli and ciclismo.
The top of the climb