#Giro2021 Stage 15: Borderland Biking between Friuli and Slovenia

Saturday brought the peloton to the mountain paths of the Dolomites – snow included! Despite the cold, things heated up on the road, with Team Astana marshalling its forces in favor of Aleksandr Vlasov, vying at times with the soldiers of Ineos Grenadiers riding for Egan Bernal. Toward the end of the race, though, Vlasov was left to fend for himself.

As the riders ascended the daunting Monte Zoncolan, aspiring GC contenders looked for any chink in Bernal’s armor that might make an attack worthwhile. Simon Yates launched past the maglia rosa group, looking very strong. Could it be his day?

Not so fast . . .

Bernal rose out of the saddle and followed, eventually passing Yates and then George Bennett who was a bit further up the road. And he kept going, all the way to the line. At the end of the day the GC standings were as follows: Bernal; Yates (+1:33); Damiano Caruso (+1:51); Vlasov (+1:57); and Hugh Carthy (+2:11).

But the stage victory belonged to Lorenzo Fortunato of Team Eolo Kometa, a new enterprise founded by former superstars Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso. Fortunato’s win had interesting repercussions as apparently Contador had made a wager with his team: if they were to win a stage of the Giro, he would ride his bicycle from Madrid to Milan.

Looks like you’d better get that bike tuned up, Alberto!

Stage 15: Back and Forth between Italy and Slovenia

Sunday’s race starts out flat, along the coastal city of Grado in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Built in the northernmost of the Adriatic Sea’s lagoons, the start town is famous for its thermal baths dating to the Hapsburg Empire. Expect some wind early in the day that might favor a breakaway group.

Stage 15 Profile Map (www.giroditalia.it.en)

Further on, the route meanders into Slovenia and up the Gornje Cerevo climb, which the peloton will do three times. I think the top GC contenders will ride defensively, waiting for the crushing mountain stages next week to make any serious challenges. Sprinters who can handle a few bumps in the road (e.g., Sagan) may be well situated to vie for the stage win.

2019 Terlato Vineyards Estate Bottled Pinot Grigio

There’s Pinot Grigio and then there’s Pinot Grigio. This one from Terlato Vineyards is the bold-faced kind, full of ripe stone fruit and citrus flavors backed by plenty of acidity. It’s not the thin, watery PG that gives the variety a bad rap, but a rather full-bodied wine with some complexity deserving of a nice plate of food.

Local dishes like fish soup with white corn polenta come from the generations of fishermen who call this region home. I think this wine would be a beautiful pairing with it!

White asparagus is another local treat, and growers are just now harvesting the crop. Each June the Fossalon Asparagus Exhibition takes place, in which the best producer is honored with a special prize. I can easily imagine a plate of white asparagus, dressed simply with lemon and olive oil, working well with this wine.

Photo: Gourmet Vegetarian Kitchen

Enjoy Sunday’s race; I’ll be back with some ideas for the last (crazy) week of Giro 2021!

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