The Giro d’Italia route is out. Most of it had leaked but today’s presentation has given the full route the stamp of approval and all the important details such as stage distances and all the important climbs. It’ll run from 8-30 May. Here’s a closer look at the route with geography, song lyrics, data and trivia…
Stage 1 is a 9km time trial in the suave streets of Torino – where the Italian job was filmed – and a chance for Filippo Ganna to blow the doors off and don the maglia rosa again.
Stage 2 is a procession across the Po plains to Novara, the kind of flat terrain that features in the early phase of Milan-Sanremo and an obvious sprint finish.
Stage 3 is hilly but the three categorised climbs are the easy ones, they’re on a big wide road and a steady gradient. It’s the two bumps late in the stage that are the traps, twisting in the nebbiolo vineyards outside Alba.
Stage 4 and a return visit to Sestola, the Giro has visited several times with the likes of Peter Weening and Giulio Ciccone winning but this time there’s no finish on the Pian del Falco slopes, just the climb out of Fanano to Sestola itself to the Colle Passerino, which may not be a proper mountain pass despite the race’s label, but with 4km at 10% it’s hard and will make for a lively finish.
Stage 5 and a trip along the Adriatic coast to Cattolica, a town with no particular religious significance despite the name. Instead it’s a seaside holiday town, the finish is on the lungomare and the Giro returns for the first time since 1978 when Rik Van Linden, a Tour de France points competition winner, won.
Stage 6 and a short mountain stage with a finish on the Colle San Giacomo above Ascoli. It’s a long climb, 17km uphill at an average of 6% but the last 5km bite with some 8-10% sections to make this finish an important discovery day for the GC contenders.
Stage 7 is a day for the sprinters with the seaside finish in Termoli.
Stage 8 is as far south as Giro reaches this year and it’s still north of Napoli. The race heads into the Matese, a chain of mountains that’s part of the Apennines and a finish in Guardia Sanframondi with a tough climb past the olive groves. It’s a good day for a breakaway.
Stage 9 and a return to Rocca di Cambio but this time with a twist, there’s a climb up to the Campo Felice ski area and then it’s onto a gravel track that’s a ski slope in winter. It’s short but the final section includes 10% slopes to the line.
Stage 10 and a fitness test for the sprinters with the Valico Della Somma 40km from the finish, most should make it as it’s a main traffic artery and it’ll help spice up the stage before the Giro’s first day.
Stage 11 is the both the sterrato, strade bianche or gravel stage and the wine stage. It’s back to Montalcino, famous for its Brunello wine and for the vintage stage of the Giro in 2010 won by Cadel Evans when the strade bianche turned beige and grey in a downpour. The roads – or tracks? – are different this time but if you’re the sort with a diary, mark “Giro stage to watch” for the 19 May.
Is Stage 12 a mountain stage? It looks like it on paper but out on the road it’s not so hard, a lot of the climbing here is big ring riding, this is one for the breakaway.
Stage 13 is a TV commentator’s nightmare, almost 200km across the Po plains and as flat as a piadina. You should probably tune in late to catch the finish but enjoy it as there few sprint finishes in this edition.
Stage 14 and a return to Monte Zoncolan, a name that strikes fear into anyone without a compact chainset. Only this time it’s the Sutrio side, climbed only once by the Giro in 2003 and easier. It’s relative though, after 8km of 7-9% which is selective enough the road kicks up and there’s 3km of vicious 12-16%.
Stage 15 features a circuit race with the finish in a city that’s Nova Gorici on one side of the river in Slovenia, and Gorizia to the Italians on the other, and the site of giant battles during World War One. The stage features a hilly circuit as the name Gornje Cerovo implies before a finish back on Italian soil.
The profile for Stage 16 alone should make your legs feel tired. 212km and into the Dolomites for 5,700m of vertical gain according to race director Mauro Vegni during today’s presentation. If that’s not hard enough, remember it’s in May and many of the higher sections will be lined with snow, there’s a lot of time at altitude and in the cold. The Pordoi is this year’s Cima Coppi high point. The early climb here gives the breakaway a chance to get clear but behind all the GC contenders and their teams will be up for this one. A rest day awaits in Cortina.
Stage 17 and 193km and the action saved for late. The San Valentino to soften up the group and then the Sega di Ala – the Passo delle Fittanze for locals – as the summit finish and used once before in the Giro del Trentino in 2013 when Vincenzo Nibali won the summit finish weeks before winning the Giro. It’s an irregular climb, more awkward than it looks on the profile.
Stage 18 and 228km in the third week, it better not be raining. It’s a stage to Stradella, where the Po plains stretch out again, where the road is gray and the light is gray… or at least that’s what Paolo Conte sings. Riders will find their lungs moving like accordions in the finish as the race dips into the Pavese hills with some sharp climbs, any sprinters still left in the race won’t have it easy.
Stage 19 and the second stage start in Abbiategrasso in a year, but only because it was appointed in haste last year when the rider strike prompted the start of the day’s stage to be cancelled and the convoy went here. The real story though is the novelty, the new summit finish. First there’s the climb up Mottarone, the mountain between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta which the Giro’s used before then it’s up the Passo di Colma – a pleonasm as colma means pass – above Varallo and then into the Valsesia, a remote valley, before the finish in the Alpe di Mera, more a car park than a ski resort but a tough climb, 10km with 7-8% to start and then the second half is over 10%.
Stage 20 and the race isn’t done with the mountains with 4,300m of vertical again. After a start in Verbania – home to Filippo Ganna although he’s probably moving to Switzerland soon like most Italian pros do – the race itself moves to Switzerland and via the long Passo San Bernardino, 30km of climbing and some steep sections but largely a drag up. Then there’s the Splügenpass, another long pass and again with some steep parts but not too hard and the two climbs are ideal for a strong team to keep the race under lockdown. The finish is… a mystery, a ski station finish but where on the slopes of Alpe Motta? Probably by the ski lifts on the rickety Via Groppera making this a hard, irregular finish.
Stage 21 and a 29km time trial from Senago to Milan much like last year’s final stage, it’s flat and fast.
- It’s a late presentation, unveiling the route just 10 weeks before it starts and when many big name riders have already decided to ride… but they probably knew the route already
- Note the early slot, the Giro has moved later in the year recently (as in later in May, not October) but the Olympic Games shunt cycling’s calendar earlier this year, this matters for the Giro with the constant risk of snow in the Alps
- It’s a northern Giro. It always is given as the Alps are perennial hosts when, say, Sicily or Puglia are not, but the map is particular pronounced this year
- Eight uphill finishes with six summit finishes
- The sprinters can pencil in five stages, maybe seven if they’re handy in the hills but no more
- Yes it’s short on time trial kilometres but as the chart shows, it’s not that different to previous vintages although the similar years a decade ago also included a team time trial
- So who does it suit? Egan Bernal for starters, his weak point is the time trial so he’ll like this route with the reduced TT distance and the big summit finishes at altitude plus the long Dolomite day but it’s one big test for his back, team mate Pavel Sivakov will get a big test. Thibaut Pinot, well it’s too early to tell with his rehab from a back injury, we’ll know more after Tirreno-Adriatico. Simon Yates is a contender. Astana’s Alexsandr Vlasov is getting a big test, we know he can climb and he’s useful in a time trial but for three weeks? It’s always difficult to rule out Vincenzo Nibali but he’s not the pick he used to be, the same for Mikel Landa who could thrive in the mountains but will need to build up a buffer for the final time trial but this is the now or never route for the Basque. Never say never for Remco Evenepoel but from what we know this isn’t the course he’d design and besides he’s still on the mend from injury