The 2013 Giro D'Italia heads to the mountains with just four stages to go, and leader Vincenzo Nibali is hoping to hold on to the lead in a climbing time trial.
Stage 18 is a short uphill rush, the cronoscalata: it's the shortest stage in the Giro at just 20.6 miles, but is still a grueling power climb due to its steep nature. The stage rises from just 192 meters at the start to 1,205 at the end, over 3,000 feet. Podium Cafe described it as a "do-not-miss stage for climbing fans" when previewing the mountains, and gave additional detail in their day-by-day preview of the race.
The stage goes from Mori to Polsa in the Alps' foothill range. Here's the map of the stage, from Cycling News:
And here's how the stage looks, climb-wise:
Nibali holds a lead of one minute, 26 seconds over Australian Cadel Evans. Although he shouldn't lose too much time off that lead on such a short stage, he could concede some time if he struggles with the climb. Of course, with just a few stages left, every second matters. Nibali's had the lead since the ninth stage, and this is where he thrives: earlier this year he won the Giro di Trentino, a mountain race centered around Trentino, the province of Italy where Thursday's race is located.
The race begins at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, with coverage on beIN Sport beginning at 9:30.