In cycling jargon, a ‘wall’ is a short but brutally steep ramp, very often on rough surface, such as concrete, stone slabs or cobbles.
A wall is a monstrous climb up the Dolomites crammed into a short distance. It’s cycling in a nutshell. It’s life in a nutshell.
A wall as short as 2 kilometres (like the one in Castelfidardo, to be negotiated 5 times in the closing circuit of this stage) can whittle down a compact peloton by the time the riders have made it to the summit, trimming and splitting the bunch into a thousand smaller groups, as it had gone through a sieve.
Walls are selective and punishing. The upside is, they are more equitable than Alpine climbs. Any type of rider can tame and resist a wall: a lightweight sprinter, a rouleur, a powerful climber or a finisseur.
Tirreno-Adriatico stage 5 will run 205 kilometres from Castellalto to Castelfidardo, clocking up more than half of that distance through a brace of climbs as serrated and jagged as shark’s teeth.
It will be cycling in a nutshell – in other words, life in a nutshell.