Here’s a list of all the Giro stages with their profiles and a summary preview. You’ll find the same and more on the dedicated Giro page at inrng.com/giro for the whole month.
The Giro likes to talk of “a more humane” race with of shorter transfers and the reduced stage distances. It was a meant as a pitch to the riders worried about the cumulated fatigue because fans aren’t meant to notice the logistics and what time riders eat dinner. Since the presentation they’ve upped one stage to 264km and there’s 236km mountain marathon, hard enough if it was a one day race but crushing coming in the third week. Overall the set-piece GC battles look reduced, there’s one long TT and you can count six summit finishes but not all will be decisive. There’s plenty of opportunities for stage-hunting in between.
Now on to each stage. Note the annotations where TV = Traguardo Volante or Intermediate Sprint and R = Rifornimento or Feed Zone.
Stage 1 – Saturday 9 May
A team time trial to open the race in Sanremo. Famous to outsiders for the Cipressa and Poggio the reality of cycling in Samremo is the coastal cycle path built on an abandoned railway line complete with tunnels. The race starts at the foot of the Poggio but sticks to the coast for a flat route. This is a strange, novel course, the path is wide enough for teams and following cars but only just. It’s not technical but a touch of wheels won’t mean skidding along the ground, it could mean smashing into a rocky wall. At 17.6km some riders on weaker teams can expect to lose a minute if they saunter along the path.
Stage 2 – Sunday 10 May
One for the sprinters with a small climb thrown in just so they can award the mountains jersey to someone. The finish circles the port city of Genoa several times, the city is worth a visit.
Stage 3 – Monday 11 May
It’s only Stage 3 but look at the climbing: welcome to the Giro. The short 136km route heads into Liguria but sticks to some gentle climbs, the early Colle Caprile is 5% and the climb of Barbagelata (“frozen beard”) is harder at 5.5km and over 7%. It’s a chance to put the sprinters in trouble but they’ve got time to get back, only those in bad shape will suffer.
Stage 4 – Tuesday 12 May
A scenic route across the Ligurian hills and through the Cinque Terre park. If the sun is shining then be warned as you’ll feel the urge to visit and ride these stunning and rewarding roads. The Passo del Termine is a steady climb at 6-7%. The best is saved for last, the race rides into the naval port of La Spezia and then ascends to Biassa, a tricky climb of 3.5km at over 8% on a winding road that looks like a twisting piece of spaghetti. This is the home of Alessandro Petacchi but most of the sprinters can forget about this, the late climb will eject most.
Stage 5 – Wednesday 13 May
Stage 5 and a summit finish already. It’s all about the final climb up Monte Gomito to Abetone, a long drag to test the power and one of those climbs where the pace is high and sitting on a good wheel matters. This climb is legendary to Italian cycling as Fausto Coppi took flight to win his first Giro – there’s a small memorial to him by the road – and Merckx and Gaul have also used the road as a springboard to glory. But in today’s world of light bikes, aero wheels, skinsuits and smooth roads this probably won’t be too selective. Watch to see if any big names are struggling and expect a powerful puncheur to win.
Stage 6 – Thursday 14 May
Ah Montecatini Terme, the swanky spa town almost famous for its waffles and training camps! It’s also where Mario Cipollini beat Alberto Binda’s record of stage wins in the Giro but here it’s the start and not the finish for a change. A day for the sprinters and also the locals as the race crosses Toscana – Tuscany to anglophones – and one of the hotbeds of Italian cycling.
Stage 7 – Friday 15 May
264km! A giant day as the race speeds south past Rome to Fiuggi, the spa town famous for its bottled water. The route has something of Milan-Sanremo to it with the length and the increasing difficulty to the end. A sprint? Probably but expect a few of the flatlanders to be fatigued.
Stage 8 – Saturday 16 May
The first “reveal” of the 2015 Giro. The Forca d’Acero is getting on for 30km at 4%, a real energy sapper. The final climb has a 10km section at 7% before a slight dip to the finish line. This is selective and we should see all the big names come to the fore. Campitello Matese isn’t a regular finish but has featured over the years with wins from the likes of Gilberto Simoni and Bernard Hinault, both blessed with mule-like stubbornness. Whoever takes the maglia rosa here can hope to hold it for a week.
Stage 9 – Sunday 17 May
After the previous day’s GC shakedown this mountain stage across the Appenines offers others the chance of a stage win via a breakaway. But watch out in case the weather is bad as this is a lumpy route on rough roads and it could be a hard stage to control if a big group barges away.
Stage 10 – Tuesday 19 May
After the rest day this is almost another recovery day. 200km but for many a chance to sit tight on the wheels and save watts. If the stage isn’t too remarkable remember the town of Forlì because its the birthplace Tullo Morgagni who helped to launch the Giro di Lombardia, Milan-Sanremo and the Giro d’Italia during his reign as editor of La Gazzetta Dello Sport. It’s also the home of Ercole Baldini, “the train of Forlì”, Hour Record holder, Olympic race winner and Giro champion.
Stage 11 – Wednesday 20 May
The race bends north for a stage across some of the late Marco Pantani’s training routes in Romangna before lapping the Tre Monti circuit used by the 1968 World Championships and the 2009 Italian Championships before the finish in the Ferrari track… the prancing horse and not the chancing quack. A sprint perhaps but from a small group.
Stage 12 – Thursday 21 May
The race rides to Vicenza, home of Campagnolo, but there’s almost no need to change gear for half the stage. The finish is spiced up with the uphill finish outside the Church of St Mary on Monte Berico, a large wide road for 2km that’s 7% but reaches 10% for the moments to the line.
Stage 14 – Saturday 23 May
It’s a shame there’s a time trial here because many would enjoy going slow given the abundant vineyards and their Prosecco produce. But who will sparkle? At 59.4km this a very long time trial and the time gaps can be huge. Don’t ignore the first 30km on the flat because a rider must push a huge gear here but cannot afford to blunt their legs before heading into the hills. The 4th cat. climb is 5% which let riders stay in their aero tuck for much of the way. The latter climbs include the 12% slope to Santo Stefano. This isn’t a technical course with traps and tricky corners but the length and the awkward slopes towards the finish will be ruinous for some.
Stage 15 – Sunday 24 May
There’s no rest for the GC riders. After the previous day mashing the big chainring now it’s time for the climbing gears. The Passo Daone is an exciting climb with 9% for 8km but sustained middle section above 12%. It’s hard to see anyone going for glory on this but it will reject many via the back door. Madonna di Campiglio is a big ski resort, infamous in cycling as the exit point for Marco Pantani and, if we had to trace it all back to one point, the moment the climber’s life started its tragic descent. As for the race this is a steady climb at 6% for most of the way, a summit finish but not too dramatic.
Stage 16 – Tuesday 26 May
Who had a bad rest day? The stage starts uphill and the attacks will fly as chancers try to get in an early move. The Passo del Tonale is hard and will take its toll. The road rises to Corteno Golgi via some nasty 15% sections before the race crosses the finish line in Aprica to taunt heavy riders who might fancy stopping at their hotel. The Passo del Mortirolo rates as one of the hardest climbs in Italy with regular 12% slopes with added ramps at 18%. A difficult descent and then Corteno Golgi again with the 15% slopes before the road eases in Aprica. Will someone gamble and attack on the Mortirolo? Climbers who lost minutes in the time trial will have to go for it.
Stage 17 – Wednesday 27 May
Almost a rest day this stage pedals along the upper Adda valley and allows some to pedal into Switzerland and check their bank balances because Lugano is a popular expatriate base for cyclists, home to Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru and more. A chance for the sprinters this stage is partly designed to make them stay in the race.
Stage 18 – Thursday 28 May
Probably a day for a breakaway, the fugitives will look to build up an advantage as the circle Lake Maggiore on flat roads. Monte Ologno is one of those climbs that groans with cicloamatori on a Saturday morning from March to October and a good test for anyone with its 9-10% slopes. The descent is longer than the climb but still fast and technical. This isn’t a set-piece stage for the GC but some entrepreneurial types could attack over Monte Ologno and once they get 30 seconds it’ll be hard to pull them back.
Stage 19 – Friday 29 May
Late in the third week and here comes a 236km stage in the mountains. The race heads for the Aosta valley and its French names and French-style climbs with more regular gradients of 6-7%. Cervinia – Matterhorn for foreigners – is where Ryder Hesjedal went into TT mode to construct the foundation of his 2012 Giro win. The gradients might not be so savage but the distance will crack some.
Stage 20 – Saturday 30 May
The last day to win the Giro and what a course. The race circles the industrial city of Turin before heading up the ominous Susa valley for the Colle delle Finestre. See the light grey tone on the graphic above? It marks the unpaved gravel section of the climb. It’s 9% most of the way meaning every man for themselves and if anyone loses time by the summit they’ll struggle to get back on. A sharp descent and then the drag to Sestriere at 5% where the best rider of the Giro can show what they’ve got.