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This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

Bluffers guide: Montecatini is not only Italy’s most famous spa town, but a real bike racing stronghold. The likes of Nibali and Visconti live within a stone’s throw, and the region is a magnet for cyclists. Mario Cipollini won his 42nd (and final) stage here in 2003, besting Alessandro Petacchi in an unforgettable sprint. Back in 1969 Eddy Merckx won a road stage here on the first Monday of the race, then time trialled around the town to win again the following day. He continued to dominate the Giro until they threw him off the race on stage seventeen for you know what…

Buon appetito: Like many Tuscan dishes, Trippa alla fiorentina (tripe cooked with vegetables) utilizes ingredients which, elsewhere, would be thrown away. Tuscan food is famed for its simplicity, and the resourcefulness of those who prepare it. Tuscan culinary custom has it that nothing goes to waste, and here more than anywhere they hold fast to age-old traditions.

Local hero: Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) – No, that’s not a misprint. If he’s still in the race the Manx Missile will know the road to Montecatini as well as almost anyone in the field. Cavendish spends much of the racing season in Quarrata, just a short ride away.

Pier Bergonzi says: “Half way through the Giro, and the longest stage. It’s a natural punctuation mark, time to take stock of where the race is. You might find that somebody amongst the original GC contenders has blown it, and will try an attack on the climbs mid-stage.”

© RCS Sport

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