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May 26 post: Stage 19 is the seventh of eight mountain stages featuring two categorized climbs in the second half of the stage including a summit finish at Macugnaga, a small alpine village near the border with Switzerland. Macugnaga is making it first appearance in the Giro d'Italia, but its known as a base camp for the second highest peak in Europe, Monte Rosa. The climb to Macugnaga (profile) is listed as being 28 km long with a modest 3.9% average grade.

Before we get to the finishing climb, there will first be 100 km of flat cycling as we cross the Lombardy region from east to west and then we hit the Mottarone which is steeper than the finishing the climb.

The cat 1 Mottarone (profile) is 13.8 km long averaging 6.2% with a maximum grade of 14%. Gilberto Simoni locked up his 2001 Giro d'Italia win by winning the summit finish on Mottarone by more than two minutes. This year however, there is still 70 km of racing left after we hit the top. There is a tricky descent and then about 20 km of flat cycling before we start the long gradual climb to the finish in Macugnaga.

Alberto Contador's overall lead of five minutes should be safe with two mountain stages and the final day time trial remaining. Perhaps Michele Scarponi or Vincenzo Nibali will light up this stage since their close battle for second place is turning out to be for best Italian rider and no Italian has won a mountain stage at this year's event. — Steve
Oh, I just remembered. The Montarone was the first climb I cycled in Europe. If the weather is good there should be a nice view of Lake_Maggiore from the near top (from the helicopter) although it looks like it's going to be a wet stage just like 2001. -- SH

 Stage 19 Flyover (01:22) —
 3D Google Earth Tour of the Mottarone climbcyclingthealps
 3D Google Earth Tour of the Macugnaga climbcyclingthealps