Stage 19 of this year's Giro d'Italia was brutal even by a pro rider's standards. The progressively steepening and unrelenting Passo Manghen kicked in just past the halfway point of the nearly 200km-long route and ended with two trips up the Alpe di Pampeago's 16-percent maximum grade.
Aerodynamics took a back seat to weight with all of the major contenders shaving as many grams from their machines as possible, especially from the wheels. Shallow-section tubular wheels with carbon rims was the norm with even Mavic's often-teased-but-as-yet-undelivered R-Sys Ultimate making yet another appearance, this time on the Cervélo R5ca of Ryder Hesjedal. So much weight was removed from some bikes that several riders and teams ran supplemental weights to bring their machines exactly up to code.
Lower-than-normal gearing was common as well with many riders swapping to cassettes with 27T or 28T cogs and some resorting to mid-compact or true compact chainrings, too.
We weren't able to weigh any of the bikes at the start but it's a safe bet that many of them were spot-on at 6.8kg – and if not, those riders were certainly wishing they were.