2015 Giro Route

Giro d'Italia

The 2015 Giro d’Italia will take place from May 9 – 31. With fewer summit finishes and time trial stages it offers a varied route with the best saved for last.

Here’s a look at the route, the early contenders and some more thoughts.

  • One 17.6km team time trial
  • One 59.2km solo time trial
  • 6 “summit” finishes of which 4 are in the high mountains
  • 7 “sprint stages”

2015 Giro Stages

The opening stage is a team time trial run on cycle path. It’s on an old railway line featuring illuminated tunnels and just wide enough to fit a team car and like last summer’s Dauphiné, a way to show off the local infrastructure.

Where The Race Will Be Won

Stage 5 above is the first summit finish. Abetone isn’t a hard climb, steeped in legend rather than steep in gradient, 7.2% over 8km and famous for the apocalyptic stage won by Charly Gaul in the 1950s. Selective but not decisive.

Campitello Matese SalitaStage 8 and the climb to Campitello Matese isn’t famous but hopefully that’s but hopefully that’s a matter of time. This is a tricky stage across the Apennines, a grand day for a breakaway before a long uphill finish, 13km at 6.9%.

Giro Time Trial Stage 14

Stage 14 is a 59.2km the time trial stage is the longest to feature in a stage race since 2009. Coming after two weeks of racing will only make it harder. The route from Treviso to Valdobbiadene takes the race to the foot of the Alps, a big ring course.

Giro Madonna di Campiglio

Stage 15 goes up the Daone on the way to the Madonna di Campiglio, infamous as the scene of Marco Pantani’s ejection from the race in 1999 and in need of a makeover. The long slopes ensure a battle but they’re not steep, 5-6% most of the way.


Stage 16 needs only 100km to reach Aprica via the Passo del Tonale but then heads out to scale the Mortirolo from Mazzo di Valtellina, the hardest side with 39 hairpin bends. It’s rated as one of the hardest climbs in Italy and chased by a fast descent before the sapping drag back to Aprica.

Stage 19 sees the race head up the Aosta valley to Cervinia, better known as the Matterhorn and a similar but not identical route to the 2012 Giro stage to the same finish, the day where Ryder Hesjedal put time into his rivals, arguably the winning moment of the race.

Stage 20 and the best is saved for last. It’s the Queen Stage with the Cima Coppi point on the Colle delle Finestre. Like Stage 16’s Mortirolo, it’s a stage where the intermediate climb overshadows the ultimate summit finish. The Finestre is 20km long, 10% steep and crucially, a gravel road higher up. The offroad aspect will wow the crowds and make the headlines for cognoscenti the climb is notable for its views, there are few more beautiful places to decide a bike race. After a paved descent the final road to Sestriere is a less than 6% slope, symbolic of the 2015 Giro’s more modest slopes.

Overall Impression
Fewer summit finishes, fewer sprint stages, fewer time trials. There’s less climbing in a qualitative and quantitative sense, with fewer mountains to climb and among the summit finishes, some reduced gradients. The long time trial makes for a more balanced overall contest.

The relative lack of big stages isn’t a problem, it’s relative after all compared to previous years or, say, the Vuelta. No other grand tour does intermediate stages so well, Italy’s geography and medieval history lend themselves to wondrous uphill finishes which probably won’t determine the race but will provide action in between the high mountain stages although for the boot-shaped nation the race never gets as far south as the ankle.

It’s a bit early to predict the winner but there’s Alberto Contador vs the rest. The Spaniard has a point to prove after being stripped of the win in 2011 following his CAS-buterol case.

Contador has said he’ll do the Giro-Tour double and it seems the route has been softened to suit him (presumably a payment too) and thereby increase the star attraction of the race. The irony of all this is a flatter route might not suit Fabio Aru. So in promoting the foreign star RCS could dampen the home challenge from the Sardinian who seems to be the real deal, his Vuelta proved the promise of the Giro. Surely Vincenzo Nibali will focus on the Tour, there has been talk of the Giro-Tour double but Astana simply don’t need Nibali for the Giro given Aru’s potential?

Fabio Aru

Nairo Quintana won’t be back. A reluctant starter this year, 2015 will see him having a clear run at the Tour. What of the others? Joaquim Rodriguez is in the awkward position of being one of the world’s best climbers and stage races, so much that we expect a high GC position. What value another podium or a top-5? What will Team Sky do, send Richie Porte back? This is course perfect for Tejay van Garderen, his excellent time trial skills and recovery powers mean make him well-suited to the route but with Cadel Evans retiring the squad probably can’t afford to let him have July off. Maybe, just maybe it’s ideal for Rigoberto Urán?

Thibaut Pinot has expressed an interest, he loves racing in Italy and even has an Italian tattoo on his arm. Normally the race suits him more than the Tour with its vertiginous climbs, only he’s a Frenchman on a French team and targeting the Giro is tantamount to treachery, especially for a team with a large roster of support riders but, for now, only one capable GC/mountains leader. With this route it’s likely he stays in France, ditto for Pierre Rolland who might not repeat his Italian visit.

All this precludes the Tour de France route for 2015, many will make their decision once this route is clear.

The Giro-Tour double
It’s fashionable to say you can’t do the Giro-Tour double but nobody minds when riders do the Tour-Vuelta combo. This year there were 34 days between the Giro’s end and the Tour’s start, but only 27 between the Tour and Vuelta. It’s the same for 2014: the Giro-Tour double allows an extra week’s rest compared to the Tour-Vuelta doblete.

Now it’s not just about the interval in between, the Vuelta has featured shorter stages which have helped reduce fatigue while the Giro can be more gruelling. All the same, the double has to be possible.

Normally it’s 18 World Tour teams plus four wildcard invitations. Currently we have 17 teams for the World Tour but noises coming out of Switzerland suggest IAM Cycling could make a move for the 18th spot. Whether RCS gets to invite four or five teams, one will go to the winner of the Coppa Italia team prize, the season-long competition in Italy. There are still three rounds to go (Giro dell’Emilia, Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli and Giro della Romagna) and Neri Sottoli lead ahead of Bardiani-CSF.

It’s problematic as Neri Sottoli have few riders capable of animating the Giro in 2015. Their best rider Matteo Rabottini was rumbled for EPO, the team’s third positive in two years, leaving a rump of riders that don’t convince for a grand tour although team manager Luca Scinto is trying to sign riders to fix this. Bardiani-CSF are a certain invite, regular stage winners and scandal-free. Androni-Venezuela are probably due an invite being Italian too. For the last place will MTN-Qhubeka want to ride or will they save all their energy for a Tour de France wildcard? United Healthcare are aiming for a Giro ride and have added Daniele Ratto and Marco Canola for this purpose.

Giro d'Italia snow Stelvio
The Stelvio on 27 May. This isn’t a black and white photo

The presentation came live from Milan’s Palazzo del Ghiaccio, the “Ice Palace” and one-time ice rink. A provocative location given the Giro’s propensity for slippery roads and icy mountains? Well just a good venue in Milan but a reminder that the weather’s often a guest in the Giro. It’s why the race has to follow the repetitive format of a loop south and leaving the Alps as late as possible. It suits everyone having the big climbs late but the race’s spot on the calendar means snow is often a worry.

61 thoughts on “2015 Giro Route”

  1. Had no idea the route was due out, haven’t even had the chance to lament the season being over yet! Good work on the preview.

    (but you’ve got the stage 19 profile twice instead of 19 and 20)

      • Yes, and every year it catches me by surprise!

        Stages 4 and 9 look like flat-free leg-breakers to me with descents near enough the finish to offer an opportunity – although of course you can’t tell the nature of the roads from the profiles.

      • Two years ago when i road the Finestre the road was paved all the way to the top a few pot holes but no worse – unless the winter has broken up the road. Its a hell of a climb. I had no time to “admire the view” as there was virtually no respite from the gradient……and it was 38 degrees at the top also which made it even tougher !!!!

        • Unless something sacrilegious has happened one side is paved, the other isn’t. (There’s also another Finestre in the Alps somewhere I think). In 2015 They’re going up the sterrata side and down the paved side. The rough side is fine though, a popular drive for locals and visitors and so the surface is kept packed and clear of obstacles.

  2. So is Valverde happy to move aside for Quintana in regards to riding the TDF and maybe go for the Giro or Vuelta?

    There has been a bit of talk about whether new Sky signing Leopold König will get support to ride for GC in a Grand Tour. While he unquestionably has the talent, do Sky want their next big star to be Czech, or would they prefer to use König as a super domestique for Froome and perhaps try Gerraint Thomas or Peter Kenneugh as GT contenders – in other words someone who the British public, who Sky as a brand really want to appeal to, would be more likely to get behind?

    Given that Valverde just signed a new 3 year deal with Movistar, I was wondering how the leadership question will be resolved. Sky is a good example of how not to manage multiple leaders at the same time.

    • I think it’s a good course for Porte. But can Sky create winners like you say? People keep tipping Kennaugh and Thomas but they need to go and get the big results, while König has arguably performed at a higher level already and all while being on a modest squad, which, symbolically, doesn’t even have a team bus. Answers in 2015.

      • £20 on the table, Porte has blown his chances of leadership at the Giro next year – or of any really major race next year for Sky. Harsh to say but I’ll put money on that being the case.

        As for Kennaugh…he needs to be given the chance to try for a big result somewhere next year.

        And as for Thomas, as long as Sky continue to look for him to be everything and do everything – and as long as he keeps on saying yes….

        • can’t see Thomas being taken out of the ‘classics’ squad for more specific training in Jan/Feb/March… Kennaugh did ok in Austria this year, what’s his TT like though?

          • My point re Thomas is that Sky look to him to be the ultimate jack-of-all-trades – and he needs to be wary of ending up as master-of-none. He’s 28 now.

            Kennaugh’s TTing: inconsistent at the moment and plenty of room for improvement. The good news is that he can put out huge power – the ingredients are there. You know how Sky love their numbers – its always been said in BC that the 3 riders who’ve come up through the BC system who post the biggest numbers are Wiggins, Thomas and Kennaugh.

            I actually think Kennaugh’s got the potential to become a pretty good 1-day hilly racer – Ardennes, Lombardy, Strade Bianchi etc.

      • Possibly, but he’s finished 7th in the TDF and 9th in last year’s Vuelta where he also won a stage and he’s only 26. Kennaugh and Thomas have had success in shorter stage races so they might be better placed to win something like the ToC which would probably be a bit of a waste of König’s talent. Will 2015 be the year Sky get it together in terms of managing their talent (keeping in mind they also have to slot Nicolas Roche in there somewhere)? Time will tell.

        I agree with INRNG that this Giro route would suit Richie Porte, especially with the long time trial. If only he could stay healthy and avoid the one bad day that has cost him GC in the last two Tours then he could be a genuine contender. With the retirement of Cadel Evans there’s an opening for next Aussie cycling hero that he’s ideally positioned to take (although in my personal view Rohan Dennis is a more likely contender for that title in the near future).

    • There was a decent article/interview with Eusebio Unzue (Movistar Team Manager)in last month’s ‘Cycle Sport’ mag. In it he suggests Valverde has had his time as GC leader and that they may well use him as a super domestique for Nairo. No mention of Valverde’s opinion though so could be interesting!

    • I think hampering König’s chances to win something big just because he’s Czech and not British would go against any standard of justice.

  3. If this course would suit van Garderen and possibly Porte, how about Uran? Maybe a bit left field, but would Henao be a possibility for Sky, assuming he is fully recovered? (I forget what his time trial is like.)

    • Serg has been national TT Champ backde home in colombia. I would like to see Kenaugh given a go, but in 2015 LK must surely be the best of the Sky bunch. However much i would like to see Nico lead the team in a 3 wk tour. But then i am biased toward the Celte/Colombian riders wherever they ply their trade

  4. Does Rabottini have points counting towards the Coppa Italia? If so, maybe teams in need of points should start employing pinch-dopers?

  5. I would say Uran for OPQS and Sergio Henao for Sky. Trek will bring Arredondo. Astana will bring Aru. Movistar will bring Valverde. Garmin should bring Talansky.

  6. Given this course, I was actually thinking of another Frenchman who it’d be tailor made for…the ‘old’ guy on the Tour’s podium this year.

  7. I reckon this is perfect for Uran, especially riding with OPQS where he’s certain to put time into rivals in both the team and individual time trials

  8. Re giro-tour vs tour-vuelta, surely the answer is that riders target the tour and build a season around it, so won’t risk a grand tour and fatigue before it, but if all is well post tour will give the vuelta a bash.

    • You’re right but out of the desperation we see it is sometimes possible to ride both and perform. It it can be done in this way, it’s possible the other way around. Maybe not ideal but possible?

      • Maybe the problem is precisely too much time in-between Giro and Tour? Difficult to stay in top shape for more than two months? In the old days, back-to-back Vuelta-Giro and Giro-Tour were not only possible, but frequent and successful. No real conclusive reason why it can’t be like that anymore.

  9. Excellent piece as per your usual, thank you. I really like the questions you raise. You mention a potential (or perhaps probable) appearance fee for Contador; it would be fascinating to know the details of such, although they are generally held close to the vest. Maybe RCS can stir the pot and do some spending to attract more top GC threats, in addition to Contador (and his garish employer) openly daring them.

    Your comment about the tour doubles is interesting, too. Assuming that Le Tour is the most esteemed Grand, at least in the context of popularity/ratings/money/exposure, I suspect that the TdF/Vuelta has become the default double because the TdF (being the priority) comes first, so a rider who has done well in TdF has little to lose in Spain, or one who did not finish or do well in France can have another shot at season redemption, whereas the Giro/Tour double injects a different risk/reward formula.

    As a fan, I’d love to see more riders doing the Giro/Tour double and remember when it was not uncommon. Maybe it would take Contador winning both to open some eyes? I agree that having Aru makes Nibali potentially superfluous at the Giro. Froome will not be enticed. If I were van Garderen, I would certainly be having some frank discussions with my directors with an eye on the Giro/Tour. Same with Valverde. If Sir Bradley was not interested elsewhere, it would seem tailor-made for him.

  10. I’d watch Tim Wellens during this race, certainly if he gets the support of an in shape Thomas De Gendt and who knows Jurgen VDB
    Wellens was 4th in lombardia, came close to winning Giro stages twice and won the ardennes stage + overall of The Eneco Tour all being only what, 22, 23? He ain’t no Kwiatkowski or Tejay VG (yet) but is obviously a big talent for the hard stage race work.

  11. Wasn’t the famous Giro stage that Charly Gaul won to the top of the Monte Bondone, a climb which starts just outside Trento?

    Or did the guy have another celebrated win on another epically bad day?

    • Abetone was where Gaul beat Jacques Anquetil and by a big margin. His attack was so fast that Anquetil said he didn’t even notice him go up the road, he was out of sight very quickly… but the weather, now I’m not so sure, maybe I did confuse that with Bondone?

  12. The SS12 up to Abetone may not be too steep, but if you take a left at Ponte Sestaione for the SP20 towards Pian di Novello, you get hit with a longish ramp of 10 to 12% for a few hundred metres, if you’re into that kind of thing. Then it’s back to 6 to 8% after that.Quieter road than the SS12, if you don’t have the benefit of the roads being closed for you.

  13. I can see Froome considering this, possibly…

    It all depends on how he really thinks his best TT rates against Contadors. The climbs seem more Tour-like than Giro-like which would certainly suit Sky’s riding style and allow for less fatigue/better recovery over the length of the race and between it and the Tour. The weather might be a big issue though.

    If he’s at full fitness and performing at his best Froome is probably the only other current rider, along with Contador, who could pull off the Tour/Giro double. Surely that’s going to be tempting for Brailsford, especially given this parcours…

    • My view is that Brailsford’s still smarting so much from the humiliation from the Tour that he won’t allow anything to compromise Froome’s run-up to next year’s Tour.

      • I agree in the sense that if you can have a rider at 100% for the Tour or 99% then he’ll always take the 100% option. Few teams have a such a big roster that they can mull over alternative leaders for the Giro.

        • Besides, the Giro is “easy”, but not so “easily controlled”, especially the first week. And the true mountain stages, too, have softer final climbs, but very hard penultimate climbs, with little recover to pull your team together. An open scenario with a lot of tricky stages.
          This may be a problem for Sky and Froome’s riding style (for what we’ve generally seen till now, at least). I’m quite sure they would be able to develop a different preparation to perform well anyway, but why should they take the risk and devote so much effort?

      • I think you’re both right, it’s highly likely Froome will not go anywhere near the Giro until it’s time to put him out to pasture. Still, if I were in charge and I thought he had the measure of Bertie I would be highly tempted…

  14. Or, he thinks this game will lower the standard of opposition turning up making it easier for Bertie to win it as a training ride and arrive at the Tour in top form, hence the new, less aggressive parcours they have bought…

    Sometimes I think Tinkov is a lot smarter than people give him credit for…

  15. On Sky: can’t imagine they’ll take Thomas away from the classics, nor Froome and wingman Porte from the Tour ‘programme’. But would Roche be too off-the-wall as a stage-hunting team leader, perhaps with Kennaugh as lieutenant? Pure speculation, of course, and he himself may be targeting the Vuelta.

    While I can’t imagine Uran not going, it would’ve been interesting to see Kwiatkowski lead for Etixx Quick Step (it’ll take me a while to get used to saying that) at this Giro.

  16. Nice review, thanks. Seems a route designed to tempt some away from that “California Vacation”? RCS wasted a lot of loot on BigTex back-in-the-day, so why not spend some on Il Pistolero? I’ve been eagerly awaiting a return to Finestre, but thought the environmentalist situation up there would prevent it. Cervinia’s great too, so for me a decent enough route overall…now we wait to see who will show up to challenge Contador.

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