Giro d’Italia Guide

Here’s simple and accessible online Giro d’Italia guide. There’s a concise preview of every stage below as well as explainers on the rules for the mountains and points competitions; TV guide and more.


Route summary

Mountainous but not as savage as in past years, the route is balanced by two time trials feature but they’re short, 69km in total. What stands out is the early mountain stages, Etna appears on Stage 4 and Blockhaus on Stage 9 meaning riders need to be on top of their game right from the start and will face constant tests throughout the three weeks.

Now on to each stage. Note the annotations where TV = Traguardo Volante or Intermediate Sprint and R = Rifornimento or Feed Zone.


Stage 1 – Friday 5 May

A scenic procession around the north of Sardinia where plenty of stunning views of the coastline await. The climb to the hilltop town of San Pantaleo is 3km at nearly 6% average and with steeper parts but it’s all on a wide road so the sprinters should get their chance in Olbia.


Stage 2 – Saturday 6 May

Hilly but not mountainous, the stage is constantly up and down but doesn’t have that many steep points. The long 2nd category climb reaches 1000m but has a gentle gradient as it climbs the Goroppu canyon with views of Monte Tiscali. A steady descent and flat finish awaits.


Stage 3 – Sunday 7 May
A short stage and a likely sprint before the race packs its bags says goodbye to Sardinia and sails to Sicily.


Stage 4 – Tuesday 9 May
The first mountain stage and no medium mountain, no gentle test of the legs this is an 18km summit finish to the top of an active volcano. The start in Cefalù below its famous rock is scenic but there’s no time to linger. The Etna summit finish has featured before, in 2011 Alberto Contador rode away from his rivals, took the overall lead and that was that for the rest of the race. The Giro will hope the climb isn’t as decisive. Leading is better than losing but leading this early can be a burden so perhaps a breakaway is given some room?


Stage 5 – Wednesday 10 May
More scenic riding around Sicily as the race skirts around Etna before a likely sprint finish in the bustling, dusty city of Messina.


Stage 6 – Thursday 11 May
The race reaches the Italian mainland and a lively finish awaits in Terme Luigiane with 2km uphill, one for the finisseurs and puncheurs, think Diego Ulissi, Nathan Haas or Geraint Thomas.


Stage 7 – Friday 12 May
If Italy’s shape is often described as a boot then this is a trip around the arch of the foot. A bunch sprint awaits.


Stage 8 – Saturday 13 May
The profile doesn’t do this stage justice. The flat sections run alongside the Adriatic sea and then comes a twisty coastal road before an uphill finish in the touristy town of Peschici where a tricky, steep uphill finish awaits. The GC contenders will need to be careful but the finish is more like one of those spicy uphill sprints we see in Tirreno-Adriatico.


Stage 9 – Sunday 14 May
The race scales the Blockhaus climb, a summit finish is as hard as it looks, 13km at over 8% average and all on a small, rough rural road.


Stage 10 – Tuesday 16 May
The first of two time trials in the race, this hilly 39.8km time trial featuring a second checkpoint in the village of Bastardo and we’ll see who is uttering after they’ve crossed the finish line. This is a rolling course with many exposed roads, often past cereal fields but the stage celebrates the Sagrantino di Montefalco wines, an unheralded Italian variety known for its inky black hue and fruity taste.


Stage 11 – Wednesday 17 May
After a start to celebrate Gino Bartali in Ponte a Ema there’s classic route into the Apennines that should be familiar to many Italian cyclists. The climbs are not steep but the roads can be rough and the route suits a breakaway.


Stage 12 – Thursday 18 May
The longest stage of the race, a gourmet route which passes through areas known for their food, at first rustic dishes with staples like butter and chestnut and later more identifiable produce like Parmesan before a sprint finish in Reggio, a short spin away from the Mapei stadium for nostalgia.


Stage 13 – Friday 19 May
A stage across the pianura, the plains of the Po valley and a rest day for all but a few sprinters and their helpers, some of whom will have booked flights home after this stage.


Stage 14 – Saturday 20 May
From the sublime to the ridiculous: a start in Castellania to celebrate Fausto Coppi and then the steep finish of Oropa, the “Pantani Mountain” as the Giro struggles to handle Marco Pantani’s legacy. On the sporting front this is notable for the direct approach, all day in the big ring then suddenly they hit the climb and have to start spinning a small gear. These direct hits often catch out some.


Stage 15 – Sunday 21 May
A small Giro di Lombardia without the falling leaves including the Selvino where Esteban Chaves made his winning move and then the passage up to Bergamo Alta which the monument classic uses too. The route crosses the densely-populated area north of Milan, one of Italian cycling’s heartlands.


Stage 16 – Tuesday 23 May
The Queen Stage. 222km is a long day any time but look at those climbs. The Mortirolo features but via the easiest side which is no bad thing given what comes later with high altitude Stelvio climbed twice, or at least almost, one passage over the summit and then another via the Umbrail before a long descent to Bormio.


Stage 17 – Wednesday 24 May
A mid-mountain stage and a good day for a lively breakaway with Aprica and the Tonale to help a move go clear. The second part of the stage is more steady as they pass apple orchards and vineyards. Many breakaway specialists will be targeting this one and those who began with ambitions for the overall classification only to abandon them on the sides of a mountain or because of misfortune can focus on this too.


Stage 18 – Thursday 25 May
A lively day in the mountains with 4,000m of vertical gain squeezed into 137km. There’s even a steep wall just before the finish line to see what riders have left.


Stage 19 – Friday 26 May
The stage of last chances, a hard summit finish with steep early slopes to force a final mountain selection.


Stage 20 – Saturday 27 May
Monte Grappa is a classic climb and the climb to Foza is hard too. The route should suit a breakaway with the outside, even optimistic, hope of an enterprising GC rider going on a long range raid.


Stage 21 – Sunday 28 May
Basta! A final time trial into Milan to keep the suspense going, a chance for some rouleurs to search for lost time but at just 29km and being on the last day this is the cliché test of freshness as much as speed. The likes of Tom Dumoulin, Tejay van Garderen or Rohan Dennis can hope to take back a minute or maybe two but how much will they have surrendered in the previous days?


The Jerseys

There are four jerseys in the race: pink, cyclamen, blue and white.

Pink: the most famous one, the maglia rosa, it is awarded to the rider with the shortest overall time for all the stages added together. As such, they have covered the course faster than anyone else. It is pink because the race has always been organised by newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport which is printed on bright pink paper. It is sponsored by Enel, an energy company.

There are time bonuses available on all the stages except the individual time trials:

  • 10-6-4 seconds for the first three riders respectively on each stage
  • 3-2-1 seconds are available for the first three riders at the second of two intermediate “TV” sprints on each of the road stages

Cyclamen: the points competition. Riders pick up points at the intermediate sprints, the traguardi volanti marked as “TV” on the profiles above and at the finish line. The allocation of points depends on the stage in question, they are categorised with the typical sprint stages offering more points in a bid to place the purple-toned jersey on the shoulders of a sprinter who is handy with mental arithmetic. The maglia ciclamino is sponsored by Segafredo Zanetti, a brand of coffee.

  • Category A+B stages (Stages 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13) offer points for the first 15 riders at the finish: 50-35-25-18-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. For the TV there are points for the first eight: 20-12-8-6-4-3-2-1
  • Category C stages: (Stages 8, 14, 15 and 17) offer points for the first 10: 25-18-12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. For the TV there are points for the first five: 10-6-3-2-1
  • Category D: (Stages 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 19, 20) offer points for the first 10: 15-12-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. For the TV there are points for the first three: 8-4-1

Blue: the mountains jersey. It is sponsored by Banca Mediolanum, a bank. Points are available on the climbs. There are five categories of climb:

  • Nine fourth category climbs: the first three riders crossing the top of the climb win 3-2 and 1 points respectively
  • Nine third category climbs: the first four riders over the top get 7-4-2-1 points
  • 12 second category climbs: first six riders get 15-8-6-4-2-1 points
  • 10 first category climbs: the first eight riders get 35-18-12-9-6-4-2-1 points
  • CC or Cima Coppi: a special award, the “Coppi Summit” for the highest point of the race. This year it is the Passo Stelvio on Stage 16. The first nine win 45-30-20-14-10-6-4-2-1 points

White: for the best young rider, this is awarded on the same basis as the pink jersey, except the rider must be born after 1 January 1992, ie aged 25 or under. It is sponsored by Euro Spin, a discount supermarket.

Obviously a rider can’t wear two jerseys at once, they’d get too hot. So if a rider leads several classifications, they take the most prestigious jersey for themselves and the number two ranked rider in the other competition gets to wear the other jersey. For example if a rider has both the pink jersey and the blue mountains jersey they’ll wear pink whilst whoever is second in the mountains jersey will sport blue jersey. In case you’re wondering the official hierarchy is pink > points > mountains > white.

There are also a host of daily prizes which keep the podium ceremonies going for some time like the Super Team, Winning Team, Fairplay, Breakaway and more. Sitting among them in 2017 rulebook is a novelty: the “best descender” prize sponsored by Pirelli, a tire manufacturer. There are 10 timed segments in the race and there will be a prize awarded on the day for the fastest descender as well as 8-5-3-2-1 points for the fastest five and an overall prize for the winner who makes it unscathed to Milan. The ten descents are:

  • Stage 8: Monte Sant’Angelo
  • Stage 9: Chieti
  • Stage 11: Monte Fumaiolo
  • Stage 12: Colla di Cassaglia
  • Stage 15: Selvino
  • Stage 16: Passo dello Stelvio
  • Stage 17: Passo del Tonale
  • Stage 18: Passo Pordoi
  • Stage 19: Sella Chianzutan
  • Stage 20: Monte Grappa


The unmissable stages
Anything can happen during the Giro but there are some stages that matter more than others.

Stage 4 – Tuesday 9 May: the Etna summit finish
Stage 8 – Saturday 13 May: tune in for the punchy uphill finish
Stage 9 – Sunday 14 May: the Blockhaus summit finish
Stage 10 – Tuesday 16 May: the first TT stage, decisive even if it’s not great TV
Stage 14 – Saturday 20 May: the Oropa summit finish
Stage 16 – Tuesday 23 May: the main mountain stage
Stage 18 – Thursday 25 May: another decisive mountain stage
Stage 19 – Friday 26 May : the final summit finish
Stage 21 – Sunday 28 May : the final stage and a time trial means the podium could still be in play


TV viewing
The race will be on according to where you are in the world. Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe plus Australia and New Zealand. It’s on L’Equipe TV in France and, new for this year, streaming services Fubo in the US and Dazn in Japan.

Italian host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage with experienced commentators as well as roving reporters on motorbikes to add extra coverage, it’s on TV and radio in Italy and the geo-restricted website RAI.it.

As ever cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds. The timing varies but as a rule the live coverage begins at 2.45pm CET and the finish is expected for around 5.15pm CET each day. The mountain stages will be shown live from start to finish says RAI but if true this may only be on RAI rather than the international feed.


Giro iCal

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Mortinsky May 1, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Great guide, thank you! My favorite GT. I’m hoping for a great giro this year.

Ecky Thump May 1, 2017 at 8:43 pm

A rough as a toasted ciabatta estimation – 69km of TT. Say 3″ / km advantage for Dumoulin, Pinot, Thomas and Dennis over Quintana?
That would total 3 – 4′ advantage.
Ergo, Quintana would have six mountain stages to peg this back, plus any time bonuses gained.

Quintana should win. All being equal and no wild crosswinds.
Maybe a strade stage could have been added, that would really have shook things up?

The Inner Ring May 2, 2017 at 7:06 pm

I think it could be closer, Quintana can be good in a time trial although the hillier the better for him, he lost 2 minutes to Froome in the Vuelta TT stage last year which was flatter.

Do you mean strade as in strade bianche? They’re used sparingly so they’re special rather than taken for granted and with all the 100th edition buzz I suspect this was enough to allow the race to skip it for a year.

gabriele May 2, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Agreed with you, but I’m not sure that Quintana will enter the Giro full throttle (unlike Dumoulin, Thomas, Dennis or Pinot… precisely!).
However, to stress what you defend here, I’d add that, in the Vuelta ITT you cite, Froome was clearly going all in and taking risks, while Quintana appeared to be keeping himself very safe both from a bike handling and an exertion POV – OTOH, it was stage 19th, usually the differences are a bit reduced anyway, as I expect to be on this Giro’s last stage.

About Strade Bianche, th point you make is very good, but, as I said elsewhere I’ve also got the impression that the organisers preferred a more predictable and “controllable” course this year, maybe to persuade some more “TdF” riders to come, or maybe to avoid a final result too much affected by the luck factor in the #100 edition (no need to say that, was it so, I wouldn’t agree with such a decision 😉 ).

Ecky Thump May 2, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Quintana was down almost 3.5″ / km to Froome on the Vuelta TT.
He also lost 5″ / km to Dumoulin on the 17km TT of last year’s TdF (albeit Dumoulin was in a more ‘TT shape’ than slimmed-down mode) and 3.37″ / km to Froome on the same stage.
You may be right though, the lumpier profile on the first TT at the Giro may help Quintana to keep the loss down below the 3′ mark.

I feel that the route still favours Quintana overall however, and a gravel section / stage may have offered a further chance for him to be got at.

The TT’ers vs ‘the climbers’ contest that may transpire is the one of the most interesting aspects of the race, for me.
I have Rohan Dennis down as a dark horse; surely his most obvious tactic would be to find the wheel of Dumoulin or Pinot and stick to it!
I’d like to see at least one of the TT’ers make it to the podium.

gabriele May 2, 2017 at 9:24 pm

Agreed, one of the aspects of the course that I really liked this year (just as I stressed the flaws, it’s fair to highlight what’s good) is a more decent presence of TTs – nicely structured and placed, too. The Giro was on the right path since several years ago: the whole “wine ITTs” thing which has been going on for some time is great and before that we had had Saltara or the Cinque Terre; now, switching an uphill ITT (personally, I never liked them much) with the final ITT tilts the balance a little more towards purer TT’ers, and that isn’t bad at all.

Alex May 2, 2017 at 9:41 pm

Great article and guide as always. For those that do not have Eurosport free to air channel quest will have hour long highlights in the evening hosted by Jonathan Edwards http://www.questtv.co.uk/giro-ditalia-highlights/

David May 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm

An unlikely event, but what happens if someone is leading pink and points, but the person in 2nd place on points is leading mountains? Do they wear the points jersey because it’s more prestigious, or the mountains jersey because they’re actually leading it?

gabriele May 4, 2017 at 12:55 am

I’d say that they’d wear the jersey they really own (the mountain jersey in your example).

Nick May 4, 2017 at 12:32 pm

I think that’s right: the rules about multiple jerseys only apply to the leaders of multiple categories, not those who lead some and are 2nd in others.

Nick May 4, 2017 at 12:36 pm

From the 2014 Regulations: “in the case a rider would be leading more than one classification, he would wear the distinctive jersey having a priority in the above mentioned order. The remaining jerseys would be put on, at an honorific title, by the next following riders in the ranking of the respective classifications, *provided that they are not already entitled to a different classification*”

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