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A panoramic view of Montecatini Terme. Somewhere in this photo is the 14.4 km finishing circuit. (photo w/ permission: Gerrit Labrijn )

May 15 update: Stage 11 is the longest stage of this year's race at 255 km and since it heads northwest up the spine of Italy, it will rapidly get us closer to the high mountains which, of course, is our ultimate destination.

Starting from the Stage 10 finish in Assisi, we'll head into Tuscany avoiding the strade bianche and difficult climbs. Although, the course is straight forward, there is a cat 3 climb at km 155, Poggio alla Croce and then a cat 4 climb on the 14.4 km finishing circuit around Montecatini Terme which averages 5.5%. The circuit will also have a fast descent and twisty turns including a U turn just 400m from the finish before a slight uphill run to the line. Are the sprinter teams getting tired yet or we will have another wild finish. We've only had one successful long break so far at this year's race. Mark Cavendish lives in this area so Sky will be extra motivated to setup a sprint finish.

In any case, it will be a long day in the saddle and a trip to the hot springs afterwards, which Montecatini Terme is famous for, would be a good way to celebrate the halfway point of this year's Giro d'Italia.

By the way, Montecatini along with Florence will host the 2013 UCI World Road Cycling Championships. — Steve