The Giro d'Italia is approaching its first summit finish of 2019 after 12 stages, and riders anticipate "a big fight" on their hands.
For the first time, the Italian Grand Tour climbs to Lago Serrù at 2,247 meters. The road in Italy's northwest covers 20.3km and climbs 1,196 metres.
"I think it's going got be super hard giving the profile," said Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma).
"Today will be a bit of a warm up. It should for sure be a big GC day, finishing at a decent altitude, a long climb and maybe a bit of weather as well."
The climb has a pitch of 14 per cent early on, lets off and then ramps up again. It averages 5.9 per cent. It closes out a 196km stage, from Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale.
"It's pitchy in a couple of different parts," Kuss added. "There's a bit of a valley approach, so the more numbers you have there, the better. It should for sure be be a big fight."
The weather forecast shows 11°C and rain for the finish. The first summit finish with cold weather could catch a few riders out.
"We need to see the weather because if it's snowing at the top, it'll be more difficult," said Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe).
"We've had all these 'flat' stages, but these stages, today and tomorrow is hard, it's different after you've been doing high speeds to switch to doing so many watts on the climb."
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) maintains a lead on the other classification favourites like Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). Such is his advantage that the others might already attack on the first available chance.
"I think it will be really important because it's always up and down, it's a difficult stage that ends with a long climb and pretty steep also," explained Jan Hirt (Astana).
"With bad weather, it'll be a hard day. I haven't checked the forecast yet, but I hear that there could be rain. And racing in the rain is much harder when it is dry, with that parcours and water on the road, it'll be a hard day.
"I think we have to try something because you can see now that there are already big differences between the leaders. If we don't attack maybe Mitchelton or some of the other teams will. It's not just us, though, who need to attack."
American Larry Warbasse (Ag2r La Mondiale) said that his weather app shows dry weather, but it remains to be seen when the riders wake on Friday morning in Piedmont.
"I think the stage will start to shape [the Giro] a little bit, but I don't think it's a hard enough climb to really do it. It's not like some of the harder climbs that are later to come," Warbasse explained.
"The thing is it's gong to be one of the first long climbs we do. I think everything is all still to play for and everything could change."
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