Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Preview

The sacred and the profane, the Giro brings a bike race to one of the largest religious shrines in the Alps, Oropa and a climb that has been part of the race’s theatre in recent years even if it’s never been decisive.

Fernando Gaviria

Stage 13 Wrap: a fourth stage win for Fernando Gaviria. For once Quick Step’s trian wasn’t convincing amid a hectic dash but the Colombian sliced through the field like a hot knife through mozzarella. He’s now comfortably in the maglia ciclamino with 395 points, next-placed Jasper Stuyven has 192 points and the jersey is arithmetically within reach of Stuyven as long as he wins every remaining stage and Gaviria doesn’t place. In real terms as long as Gaviria makes it to Milan the prize is his.

The Route: a start to celebrate Fausto Coppi up in the hills in Castellania, his birthplace and to call it a village would be to exaggerate, it’s a tiny place. The race will be neutralised during the descent to the plains. Then it’s 120km across the pianura to Biella where bridges are the only obstacles to climb, hours spent turning big gears before they reach the foot of the Alps and suddenly have to spin a low gear.

The Finish: a famous climb but it’s never been decisive in the Giro. It starts with a suburban feel with walls separating the road from homes and gardens and it’s steep too with each home sitting higher than the next. As the profile shows the climb has a steep middle section – 8.9% for 3.5km – and it’s here in the village of Favaro that the road is cobbled but with smooth and tightly packed stones, they roll fast. Onwards and the road is even more exaggerated than the profile shows, those 5% sections include some flat parts but that only means the slope is steeper elsewhere. As the reach the sanctuary there are more cobbles where the final metres are uphill at 5%.

The Contenders: a breakaway? Why not, the big GC teams are protecting their leaders so won’t be racing across the plains for the whole stage, they’ll only take up formation later on which gives hope to fugitives looking to establish a lead. It’s hard to pick a winner but Sky’s Diego Rosa is the local, suited to short uphill finish and doesn’t have to worry about team duties any more but whether he has the legs is another matter.

Nairo Quintana is the obvious pick for a summit finish but this is a short climb and so he can’t scare his rivals so much. Thibaut Pinot packs a good punch for the pavé finish but as Vincenzo Nibali remarked the other day his moves are often rather obvious.

Tom Dumoulin‘s a good pick for today, we may still have reservations about how he’ll cope with multiple mountain passes in one day but this one sharp climb should be fine for him, if he can match the others then he’s got a punchy finish.

Adam Yates is climbing fast as we saw on Blockhaus, and that with a broken bike. Now he can emulate his brother Simon who has jumped off the front of the bunch for stage wins in Paris-Nice and Romandie, all while exploiting the buffer his 16th place allows because if he moves, none of the riders worried about the maglia rosa or even a top-10 place need respond.

Michael Woods is an outside pick. While it’s easy to make the summit finish = GC contenders connection, Woods is good on shorter efforts like this.

Nairo Quintana, Tom Dumoulin
Pinot, Woods, Yates, Rosa

Weather: a calm day, sunshine and clouds a top temperature of 22°C.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CET. There’s live coverage on home broadcaster RAI in Italy and Eurosport for much of Europe and beyond. Otherwise and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

61 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 14 Preview”

  1. If Diego Rosa could be considered freed up then the same could be said of Deignan. He was climbing well in the group of Amador, Anton and Fraile when he had to be called back to assist the ailing Thomas. Perhaps the climb doesn’t suit him so well, but at least now Sky can throw their usual ‘protect the leader’ tactics in the bin

  2. Found myself pulling for Sam Bennett to win today behind that awesome Bora train that seemed like a machine today.
    Anyone know how Bora will pick their team for the TDF? Hard to imagine Sagan having that much support in France. Would Sagan win more stages with a competent train in front of him? Can he follow a train or is he just a free-lancer??
    Would Bora have that many riders to commit to a sprint focus or will they have more focus on GC??

    • It seems to me that once inside the final 50kms of a race, if Sagan thinks h has a chance he usually just goes for it regardless of teammates. He’s probably his own worst enemy in this respect as he makes a break, is usually the most powerful rider and then ends up pulling his rivals. Not too sure where a train would fit in in this regard.

      Whilst a formidable sprinter, I still wouldn’t put money on him vs Kittel, Greipel, Cav etc. His strengths lie in winning punchier stages.

      I think Bora will send a team split between aiding Majka (König as his lieutenant) and Sagan (Bodnar as his super domestique) with the focus on stage victories rather than GC.

  3. Movistar will want to isolate Dumoulin. Not too soon, let Sunweb take the wind on the plain.
    Which makes you think that a Movistar rider may try to get in the break.
    But what do they do when the race hits the climb, that’s the question?
    Amador is the prime weapon, they could use him early or mid-climb but for certain he will jump at some point.
    That is when the race will shatter.

    Personally, why would Movistar waste time and employ the train?
    Dumoulin can climb well, and he can withstand the even increases of pace.
    I’d just fire off Amador on the lower climb and unleash hell.
    Quintana is the best climber so forget the rest, and he’d probably take two or three team mates with him anyway.
    Movistar should be bold today. Make a statement, rip up the climb, take what they get and put the pressure right on Sunweb.

    • I don’t see the point. Oropa is never that decisive. Dumoulin could stay within 24 seconds on Blockhaus, a harder climb. To be sure, Quintana will attack and finish before Dumoulin but it will be a few more seconds back that’s all. Where Movistar should be bold (and they don’t exactly have a record of boldness as the Tour shows every year) is on the Mortirolo where Dumoulin and Sunweb should definitely be isolated if Quintana has the sheer brass neck to make the whole stage carnage.

    • RonDe is right, Ecky: Oropa – the serious part – is a less-than-20′ climb, the maximal effort usually involved is under 15′ (unless one is forced to tackle it top speed from scratch like in Pantani’s mechanical case). They climb it averaging 22 km/h: power also matters, not just power/weight. Last time up, we saw Battaglin winning it over his breakaway’s colleagues who were purer climbers, say Cataldo, Polanc and even Pantano.
      And this time no previous Gpm is involved: a short, fast, irregular monoclimb, with those flat stretches, should help Tom like Cumbre del Sol did on stage 9 of the 2015 Vuelta (he left behind Froome, Purito, Aru, Majka, Quintana and Valverde: except Aru they were all tired by the Tour, but it’s worth remember that episode).
      That was more about 10′, hence I’d say that, in a sense, Ecky has a point: I wouldn’t speak about sophisticated strategies, but it’s important for Movistar to make of it a full 20′ effort.
      It’s also similar to La Morcuera, when Dumoulin lost some 16″ when Aru (followed by Quintana) cracked him – which is relevant because makes you think they were going full gas.
      Perhaps time bonuses will create more difference than the climb itself… I wouldn’t be surprised by either Quintana or Tom taking (very little) time over the rival.
      However, as always, to actually understand what will be going on it will be paramount to check the rest of the rivals as a benchmark.

      • Good comments both.
        My point was never about it being decisive, more of a statement and taking what time you can get.
        But mainly taking as much debit as possible out of Dumoulin’s stamina bank both today and tomorrow, in advance of next week.
        Quintana left it until inside 7km out on Blockhaus.
        Today it’s one climb, so make it all count?

        • Who knows whether it’ll work or not, but SOMEONE needs to attack the Maglia Rosa on this climb. Nibali, Quintana, etc. have little to lose assuming all the bigs arrive at the base of the climb together – I’ll be very surprised if it’s a “limit the losses” parade up there. Vai Nibali!!!

        • Attacking with more than 6 kms to go on a uphill finish, especially if no final flatter sections are included, is quite from far, particularly if compared to modern cycling’s standards, and even more so if you know that nobody else is going to work with you from then on.

          Let’s check it against the most shocking climbing performance in recent years. The brutal Contador on Verbier went with 5.6 km to go; Froome on Ax 3 Domaines – the top climbing Froome ever, until now, in terms of performance – went around the 5.0 km mark; it was about 7.2 km to go on Ventoux (and that had some significant “slower pace” section when he met with Quintana who in a first phase even helped him, while the rhythm rose again in the last couple of kms or so); LPSM – with its flattish finale – was 6.4 km to go…
          (Nibali normally attacks from further out, but with a steadier pace).

          Moreover, if any previous terrain is available for you to wear out your rivals through teamwork, forcing a high pace on any positive gradient, it’s very wise to do so in order to make selection possible; that’s precisely what Movistar had been doing for the previous 20 kms, even before the official start of the climb, along some 1000 mts. of altitude gain (once more, we should underline the sheer nonsense of stopping for the moto accident).

          Today, raising the pace before the climb would make the pure climbers suffer more than heavier riders… (and the first hour already flew averaging nearly 50 km/h!).

  4. How about Zakarin? Far enough down on GC they’ll give him a little rope and showed he was strong on Etna. Has he been ill? I’ve missed the past couple of days.

  5. Every previous Giro stage winner at Oropa has been Italian…although I’m not sure whether today is the day that the home nation will break its drought in this year’s race.

  6. I have a feeling Sky will be leaving this Giro empty-handed. At least last year they had Nieve to hoover up the mountain jersey. I’m not sure Landa/Rosa have what it takes to win a mountain stage post Blockhaus disaster. Although, that said, Landa would, in regular circumstances, be the perfect man to win the Mortirolo/Stelvio/Umbrail stage just like he won that supposed “hardest stage ever” in Andorra in the Vuelta a year or two ago.

  7. obviously they needed 80 years to finish the (today dominant) large cupola building. 1880 to 1960. Thats strange in many ways for modern times. someone knows what happened here? i couldnt find any clear information so far.

    • I don’t know but it’s not about modern times or the likes… The Brunelleschi “dome” in Florence was finished in 16 years in the 15th century – while the 19-20-21th century Sagrada Familia is taking just a little longer 🙂

      • Yes i was thinking about sagrada aswell. Its just interesting, when you consider what was going on in those 80 years. and no one finished rhis project. The catholic church normally isnt short on money, especially considering this must be a high prestige project. Or during fascist times, when they were building a lot ( just look at rome)…and they were finishing a 17century project in times when old buildings were torn down in other places.

  8. If I was Sky I would a) just put anyone in the breakaway who could get there. (Maybe not Landa if it wants to get a lot of time), and then keep pinging riders of the front come the final climb until the heads of state start looking at each other to pull the gap back.

    Of couse, Sky have shown themselves to be spectacularly inept when things go wrong in the past.

    • Sky has not axactly won any populatrity contest with Movistar or team Nibali. I doubt that they would have let Landa i the break today

  9. Whatever should happen in the last 20′, please ban forever this sort of Vueltesque stage from the Giro. Especially in a weekend stage.
    Especially in the second week (it could perhaps be acceptable during the first one, taking a sprint’s place).

    No different strategic options for the teams, no meaningful action whatsoever, really no need to watch. Reducing cycling to its “man or woman in the street” (cit. Froomey) parody. No good.

    In a normal Giro-like stage you might indeed have “only” 20 final minutes of compelling action (it’s often way longer than that), but at least you spend the previous hours watching how things evolve – in a sense or another – or expecting that something *could* happen. Not today.
    Even a monoclimb stage like Blockhaus entailed the chance (an option you can decide to take, as Movistar did, or not) to force the pace on the slowly rising, winding roads before the “true” climb. Today the bunch was seeing the break one km further ahead, imagine that…

    I really hope that, as Ecky said, we’ll at least enjoy twenty final minutes of actual battle. That would still do – without salvaging the stage as such.
    What I wouldn’t like at all is a 2016 TdF style high speed parade until the last couple of kms.
    From Coppi to Pantani… two riders who made a trademark of long range action. What an insult.

    • Gabriele I find it interesting what you think there is “a need to watch”. The Giro is over 3000kms of bike racing. Surely not every kilometer must be exciting, attacking racing?

      • Supposed mountain stages should be “interesting to watch”, and weekend stages should absolutely be, too – besides, we just had two very flat days, in every possible sense. Tomorrow might be similar, too.
        Four consecutive (three until now) relatively dull days well into the second week is a serious flaw (and the ITT is a TV fail, too, but that’s got a sporting sense, at least).
        This second week risks to be a total watching failure, spoiling a very good start audience wise.
        And it’s not just about the “man or woman in the street”, most of the time the race wasn’t worth being watched through the most part of this second week.
        Serious GTs aren’t like this, even if the Tour often is.

        • I enjoyed today’s stage and I appreciate that some stages will be flat for sprinters. But, most of all, I think that bike racing is not just about the parcours. It is also about the racing and even if you did not like today’s route the result was certainly very interesting.

          • A disappointing course led to a *minimal* quantity of racing, although quality was fine. A great course can bring dull racing, but a bad course very rarely allows great racing.
            Today you had 10′ of racing, however interesting may that be. 4 kms. That’s too little racing for me in a stage which should be significant, being the penultimate weekend.
            As I already wrote, it would be fine in the first week. If tomorrow should be a mayhem 50 kms from the line, it may be enough to speak of a barely decent second week. Otherwise, it would be quite much under par.
            As a Giro spectator, I’m used to be treated to *several* stages (sometimes even the majority of them) which are highly entertaining and technically meaningful along 30′, 45′, one hour or more. This year we didn’t have many of those until now. The 2012 spectre lingers around…

          • I agree with gabriele. Especially during the last years’ Giri (?) we were treated to mostly very interesting stages. And that was a consequence of the course design and the willingness of at least one team to take advantage of it. If the course is like today’s even the strongest team in the world can’t make it an interesting stage.
            As Vegni was already responsable for the Giri in recent years I wonder if they have a new course designer or if the way more interesting courses of those years just “happened” by chance. With the exception of next Monday’s and Wednesday’s stage I don’t think the stages in the last week will provide much spectacle either. But hopefully I’m wrong on this one.

          • I totally agree Gabriele.

            Never before have I chosen to only watch the last 20km of the Giro on so many occasions.

            And I don’t see why they would choose to do this – other than the theory that they were trying to attract Froome.

            Anyone can see that stages with multiple climbs are more interesting than a procession to the bottom of one mountain.

            And then you’re bound to have a situation where most of the selection is people dropping off the back.

            Good courses are more likely to produce good racing – nothing is guaranteed, but today was never going to produce more than 15 minutes of racing.

  10. Quintana loses climbs now? He got 24″ on the road from Dumoulin at Blockhaus. Tom just got them all back 14″+ 10″ bonus. Quite remarkable.

    • It’s funny how you sum up the bonuses only in one case ^__^
      However, it was quite much predictable with such a course: any of them could get 10-20″ over the other. You can have a look to my post above.
      And I guess that you were writing about Froome or Purito “losing climbs now” during the Vuelta stage I cited.
      Curiously enough, that year a very-low-key Quintana who lost 20″ (without including time bonuses!) in Cumbre del Sol, ended up the Vuelta in a better GC position than Dumoulin, some 2′ ahead of him, like Purito or Majka, although all them had been “losing climbs” to the Dutch.
      Just as that GT was clearly tilted towards climbers, this one favours “passisti scalatori” with a strong TT base, hence Dumoulin might be having a serious go (again, a lot has been posted on the subject well before today). He can email Froome thanking him for a course designed in order to lure in the Sky rider.
      Besides Dumoulin being in his finest form, today really said a little or nothing. As any 10′ effort shouldn’t ever say anything about winning a GT. If it was an ITT, it would be a 9 kms one, a prologue. Great TTers have been beat by “lesser” riders in prologues, sometimes even by sprinters. There you have your term of comparison.
      “Diesel” riders were those who really suffered today, it’s to be seen if they’ll have the option to come back in more favourable stages, or if these won’t be selective enough because of easy finales.

      I don’t know if you’d consider tomorrow “climbs” or what, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dumoulin gained even more terrain over Quintana.

      • What I am thinking now is that Dumoulin has a 2’47” gap. If this were Froome we would expect him to win and beat Quintana from that position. He has done it multiple times across the border. Now I know that Oropa is a relatively easy climb and one well suited to Dumoulin (much like Arcalis which he has also won before). And I know that Mortirolo/Stelvio/Umbrail or Monte Grappa will be different tests again but surely if Dumoulin has the pedigree now is the time to demonstrate it?

        I figure Quintana needs 4’30” now to feel safe (3 minutes to get back to parity and 1.30 to cover the final ITT). So far, this thing swings in Tom Dumoulin’s direction. But too be sure Quintana will have better days in the final week unless something is wrong.

        PS If Dumoulin does the Tour next year I think he’d trouble Froome more than Quintana has so far. Quintana’s skill set is tilted too far towards climbing with weakness in wind, on the flat and the ITT.

      • So you’re very prone to citing the past in an attempt to make nostalgic but ultimately empty points yet a GT with all of 60km of TT is suddenly a favor to a guy like Froome?

        Might want to flip back through that history book there.

        • Get that same history book and look at the mountain stage pages to find some hints. This Giro’s problem, in fact, isn’t its 70 (oh, sorry: 69.1) kms of admittedly-not-technical ITTs.
          And I guess that without Eskerrik Asko’s translations “passisti scalatori” was too hard to understand.
          Froomey lost a couple of minutes to Wiggo in 2012’s ITTs, try and guess how much would have he lost to the likes of Indurain and Rominger. The guy went monstre in long & flat ITTs just two or three times in his whole life (didn’t check), it’s not like he can count on that in absolute terms.
          It’s relative to the rivals and to the usual courses. This Giro has been changed in the designing phase in orderd to be *more favourable* to Froome (or similar riders) than most Giri – even more than some Tours.

          • “This Giro has been changed in the designing phase in orderd to be *more favourable* to Froome”

            I seem to remember when the route was announced Froome tweeted a link to it with a heart/love emoticon, and there was some fevered speculation he was going to ride it instead of the tour which Froome did nothing to dispel.

            I don’t claim to have Gabriele or Inrng’s encyclopaedic knowledge but having just read Brendan Gallagher’s history of the Giro (Corsa Rosa) what is evident is how willing they were to design routes to favour and entice riders (and I think the TdeF does to a lesser extent- 2012 seemed purpose-built for Wiggins).

        • What: empirically, current GC and expectations for the second ITT strongly support the idea that this course favors the superior rouleur. Even though Froome is a fine climber, the the laws of physics put Quintana at a substantial disadvantage in the ITT’s on a course like this. Fair might be if Froome and NQ meet in a Giro soon with a more-typical climber’s course. Although if Froome accepted that challenge I’d be afraid he’d accidentally starve himself to death in training.

  11. Hardly a surprise that Domolin won this stage. Its quite similar to the early Vulata stages from 2015 where he was narrowly beaten by chaves and the one one he won in front of Frome. Last years Giro stage to Roccaraso is also similiar (albit a bit more difficilt).

    I have had Dumolin as the top favorite for this stage since day one.

    I belive that Nibali also predicted that this would be a stage for Dumolin.

    • +1, and you’re right about Nibali, that’s what he had said; what I frankly didn’t expect is *how damn fast* Tom actually was (what I commented below).

  12. Just a curiosity, since today stage was a perfect occasion for great times, compared to 2014 for example (but 1999 was very good, too, a short stage with just a short uphill section before the finish, and in a similar position within the whole GT).

    But, well, Dumoulin just made the *second best time ever* on Oropa, some 30″ shy of Pantani.

    The rest of the great climbers of the 90s (Simoni, Gotti, Ugrumov) are 30-40″ further back, just as a Piepoli 2007 D.O.C. who made his time in an uphill ITT. Only Jaja comes close.
    That’s really putting the watts on the tarmac.

    (I got that from the usual M. Cazacu source, and I want to check that – but, hey!)

    • 30 seconds shy of Pantani? I have Pantani at 18.33 and Dumoulin at 19.17 = 44 seconds difference (via @ammattipyöräily on Twitter). Still 2nd best time though. Pantani’s cocktail for champions must have been some heavy stuff.

      • It depends on the segment you use as a reference.

        Amattip. uses the last 7.5 kms, Cazacu (and I’d agree) prefers a 6.7 kms reference on which he got Tom at 17’37” and Pantani at 17’04” (admittedly, it’s 33″, not 30″, but “some 30 secs” could apply, I think).
        Anyone can have a look at the profile above and decide what makes more sense. Moreover, after his flat tyre Pantani had been pulled full speed by his gregari along the easier section, hence I’d consider as “more standard” the time he achieved on the over 4% gradient (as in Cazacu).

        However, as I already wrote, I tend to check the time personally, not just relying on sources if possible, and I’m going to do it this time, too. I’ll let you know if something different surfaces.

        The doping reference is sort of trolling stuff, but (just to step down to the same children school level ^__^) I’d wonder how heavy do you think is Tom’s cocktail, then. Or did he simply fall into the magic potion when he was a little boy? Personally, and looking at the different kind of riders in different eras, belonging to very different team structures, who got fine results, I’d say that doping isn’t an all defining factor… Otherwise, I guess you’d have got several more Pantanis during and, even more so, *after* his years – it doesn’t seem so.

        • By the way, I checked the video and Dumoulin made it (the final 6.7 km with 535 m. of altitude gain) in 17’27”. Exactly the same reference points as Pantani, who thus was just 23″ faster. Apparently, writing “some 30 secs” was a good idea on my part. They weren’t 33 but 23. VAM is 1840, avg. speed was 23 km/h and power data should be revised accordingly.

        • I’d add that Pantani gained 18″ of those 23″ over the first 2.45 kms from the Favaro crossroads to the intersection which brings the riders back on SP144, before Anacona ended his last turn and the subsequent Yates-Pozzovivo-Quintana attack which broke the favourites’ group.
          Quintana and Pantani both climbed the following 2.3 kms exactly in the same 6’00”, Dumoulin was 4″ slower.
          OTOH, Dumoulin was globally 3″ faster than Pantani in the last 1.6 km whose avg. gradient is about 6% (since when he reached and attacked Quintana).
          I lack video crossed reference points for those hard 350-400 m where Dumoulin successfully tracked down Quintana, but if Tom was 26″ down on Pantani with 1.6 to go, I’d say that in that single steep segment Pantani inflicted 8″ on Quintana and 4″ on Dumoulin.
          A crossed reference at 700 m to the finish line tells us that Pantani had been gaining further 5″ from -1600 to -700, but then Dumoulin got back 8″ somewhere in those final 700 m.
          Dumoulin dropped Quintana in the last 250 m, where he went at 30 km/h while the Colombian cracked and was unable to go faster than 21 km/h.

  13. Dumoulin is impressive.
    If Quintana’s biggest goal is The Tour, then it wise for him to let it go and finish at position 2 or 3 in the GC.
    A fight with Dumoulin is this shape, will make a new high performance in France almost impossible.

    • Can Quintana back down now? I do think he has to make a choice though. Getting the time he needs will require energy he’d rather not spend only to come up short.

  14. It was impressive but it was a Big Tom sort of climb – this Giro isn’t over. Not yet anyway.

    The great thing is he should improve and, with the right course, next years tdf might be a bit more appealing. I see Dennis taking this kind of path, real shame he was out so early.

  15. Classy victory from Dumoulin. Cool as a cucumber.

    I’m beginning to develop a little theory about Quintana based on ovlnvservation of his performances over the past couple of seasons:

    His preparation for the big races is largely train at home and then only enter the races he really wants to win (grand tours, classic season curtain openers e.g. Tirreno Adriatico) with the odd exception.

    I’m starting to wonder if his race craft isn’t quite on a par with other riders. When he atracks, he doesn’t quite seem confident in the power of his rivals. He’s also been caught napping a couple of times too.

    He doesn’t seem to be reading his rivals very accurately compared to say Contador. Anyone else notice this?

    (Apologies for repetition but I’m going to post this on Sunday’s comments too)

    Top write up as ever INRNG

  16. Uff…!!! SORRY everyone, I’ve got to correct myself. The video I used to check the times on Oropa had been edited (grrrrrr): they took away some seconds here and there, hence the correct total time for Dumoulin is indeed Mihai’s 7:37 (33″ slower than Pantani).

    Thanks Mihai for posting me a link to a non-edited video. I had checked some of them and chose the one which looked complete (the longest among them), but that wasn’t right, yet!

    Luckily for me, the 10″ they took away *belong to the first part of the climb*, when Movistar was pulling, hence the rest I wrote about the last 4.25 kms (the section I focussed on since it was when the main riders were racing on the front)… is still ok.

    That is, Pantani won 28″ (not 18″) out of those 33″ (not 23″) to Anacona, so to say (obviously, it’s relevant anyway; he had to be more tired having had to go faster and pretty much alone from further out), and only five of them to Dumoulin. Those 5 secs were the result of Pantani gaining 13″ over Dumoulin in 3.55 kms after the Yates-Pozzovivo-Quintana attack, then losing 8″ in the final 700 m rush, where he kept the same pace of the rest of the climb while, as we saw, Dumoulin could sprint.

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