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Monte Petrano, a leg-breaking climb in northern Marche


Marche will most likely decide who will be the winner of the 59th edition of the Tirreno-Adriatico. In recent years, this beautiful region has given us the by now legendary “stage of the walls”, a thrilling day from a technical and scenic point of view, but in 2024 Marche will host no less than the Queen Stage of the entire competition, the 180-kilometre Sassoferrato-Cagli, with the summit finish on Mount Petrano.

The climb is a 10.1 kilometres long killer, with an average gradient of 8.1%, and is clearly bound to be a big GC decider. In fact, this will be the last chance for the men in the rankings to try and shake things up, since the following day, the San Benedetto del Tronto catwalk will offer no room to make any tangible difference.

The asperity starts in the town of Cagli and constitutes a true gem of the northern part of the Marche region. Though very popular with local cycling enthusiasts, by hosting the Queen Stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico, this col certainly aims to attract an increasingly national and international audience. Furthermore, the municipality of Cagli has had a monument erected on the summit dedicated to the greatest ever cyclist from this region, Michele Scarponi, and to all the victims of road accidents, giving fans one more reason to pay a visit.

The climb is very regular and has a perfect road surface. The heaviest gradients, up to 13%, are all within the first few kilometres, after which the road climbs steadily on long straight stretches interspersed with a few hairpin bends until reaching a sudden change of scenery. The rich vegetation disappears to make way for large fields with cows and horses, the road flattens out a little and the horizon offers an exceptional view of Monte Nerone and the Furlo Gorge. After leaving the sequence of hairpin bends behind, the road climbs again and re-enters the forest until the very last section.

However, this will not be a first for Monte Petrone in great cycling. There is a very prestigious precedent dating back to the Giro d’Italia centenary in 2009. In an edition that stretched from north to south, the Marche climb was not simply tackled in the final week of the competition (which would be enough of an honour), but was the climax of what everyone described as the Queen Stage of that Giro, the 237-kilometre Pergola-Monte Petrano. The final asperity was tackled after a gruelling day, featuring the climbs of Monte delle Cesane, Monte Nerone and Monte Catria, with Ivan Basso and Danilo Di Luca unsuccessfully trying to put the Maglia Rosa Denis Menchov in trouble. In the end, the smartest rider was Carlos Sastre, Tour de France winner just 10 months earlier. The Spaniard managed to break away not far from the summit and deservedly took a solo win atop Monte Petrano. At the Tirreno-Adriatico, the overall mileage and elevation gain will be significantly lower, but the big names will still battle it out, with the aim of taking home one of the most fascinating trophies in international cycling, the legendary Trident.

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