The Giro del Friuli Elite-Under 23 race has 4 stages this year, 2 of which come pretty close to our area. Today was the closest though, actually passing down the main road through our village. Rather than watch the bunch whiz by in a blur I decided to ride up to Pala Barzana (840m) so I could see the guys slowly climbing up the pass.
Beautiful sunny day, a midnight shower had cooled things off a bit. Headed up through Montereale Valcellina, through the 4km-long tunnel, up the gentle climb along Torrente Alba by Andreis, and started the actual climb. It's short (about 5 km of 8% average gradient), but has some good steep stretches to keep you humble. The toughest part is a kilometer and a half of about 10% average gradient, with a sun-exposed straight stretch of a few hundred meters at 14-16%. Otherwise it's mostly shady, with lovely big trees and panoramas of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Wonderful twisty mountain road.
At Pala Barzana, grassy meadows open up, with views of rocky Monte Raut above. There were a couple of team vans parked here, among them the Russian National Team. I decided to descend a bit because the top itself is too flat, and I wanted to watch the race at a steep spot. Found one a couple of hundred meters down the road toward Poffabro, and waited for the bunch. It was so quiet you could hear the caravan of motorcycles and team cars miles away (maybe in Poffabro?) Finally they arrived, and I snapped pictures till I got tired and just watched the remaining, non-superhuman climbers struggle up the grade. Then the team cars covered with gorgeous carbon machines arrived.
Afterwards I headed back over the top and descended rapidly. They had cleaned the curves very well- no loose stone, branches etc, so it was great swooping around the bends. At the little town of Bosplans everyone was along the road waving- maybe they thought I was a straggling racer (though I don't look under 23!) The tunnel was nearly empty and I felt like I was flying on the slight downgrade.
Tomorrow the race goes over Sella Nevea near Slovenia, which I'd love to try later this year. Then Saturday they come our way again: Sella Chianzutan, Orton, Clauzetto. I'll try to work that into a ride if I can. Here's the website for the race
|Alexander Grigoryev (Katusha) and Luke Durbridge (Team Jayco)|
headed for first/second over the GPM
|Andrej Rajsp (Radenska) and unidentifiable rider |
in 3rd and 4th place at the GPM
|Peleton struggling to stay in the race|
The 10% average grade,
with 14-16% straight stretch