The full 200km Nove Colli (9 hills) has a number of distinct phases:
- First hill
- 3 hills in quick succession - culminating with Barbotto
- More hills building towards the high point
- The final "killer" hill
1) After all the waiting and setting off you'll be glad of the 30km+ of totally flat riding and only towards the end will you start to notice a pretty little hill town that you seem to be heading towards. This is Bertinoro and the climb is easy up to the town then really hard actually in the town streets.
After a bit of a dip down you continue up to finally get over Polenta - the first of the 9.
2) Easy to think you have these Appennine hills licked with the Polenta climb, and what follows is a long, flattish ride towards the next 3 hills.
But this is where it gets tough - mainly because you are ascending then descending then ascending immediately again - no rest as the downhills are nerve-wrackingly fast. I've circled then as the first real test of the Nove Colli.
Barbotto deserves a special mention - last of the three - and with some real stiff gradients, oh and unrelenting too. This hill is closed to cars and you have a summit finish with music and commentator on hand so try to look your best...
The course splits soon afterwards with the 130km people making a long, fast descent back home, and the 200kmers taking on another 5 hills...
More tomorrow on the second half of the Nove Colli.