The 2024 Giro d’Italia route has been published and here is a stage-by-stage look with all the profiles on one page and also some wider thoughts on the course. It looks easier, will it be better? Can organisers RCS tempt Tadej Pogačar to start?
Stage 1 – Saturday 4 May
Back to Torino, the industrial city at the foot of the Alps which hosted the start in 2019. It’s home to RCS boss and media mogul Urbano Cairo. The Giro struggles to get attention in Italy sometimes because of the final weeks of the football season, even amid the pages of house newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport. Here the race leans into the football theme with the Superga climb which will bring action but also evokes history, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the air disaster that wiped out a local football team. The Superga and Maddalena combo recall the thrilling 2022 stage won by Simon Yates but this time it’s just one climb of each rather than laps but that’s plenty for an opening day.
Stage 2 – Sunday 5 May
A scenic ride, the summit finish gets the attention but it’s via the “Zegna Oasis”, park created by the eponymous fashion designer before the Oropa summit finish. Listed as 11.8km at 6.2%, this includes the easy roads out of Biella that lead to a fierce 7km section that almost never goes below 8% as it winds up through the woodland with steep hairpins and passing signs to commemorate Marco Pantani’s win in 1999 shortly before he was ejected from the race because of his blood values.
Monday and a sprint stage as the race crosses the plains. Until fast finish in Fossano the likely talking point will be food and wine as it passes risotto rice fields and plenty of vineyards.
A start in Acqui Terme, famous for its “boiling spring” since Roman days but the race won’t reach boiling point until late as it crosses over the Ligurian hills to the Mediterranean and then takes up the Milan-Sanremo course from Savona to Andora, just after the Capo Mele.
After the previous day’s Milan-Sanremo déjà vu, more familiar roads with the Passo del Bracco, this time taken in the opposite direction to the 2023 Giro and then a finish in Lucca in one of the regional heartlands of Italian cycling. A likely sprint stage, especially if the weather’s pleasant.
The sterrato or strade bianche stage with three sections totalling 11.6km in the hills to the south of Siena. It’s a more gentle day than the 2021 stage to Montalcino but there’s still almost 2,000m of vertical gain. The second half of the stage is much more than the gravel bits with plenty of twisty roads and ramps.
The first time trial stage and the profile says it all, flat for 30km before 3km at 7% into Perugia. Two time trial stages in this race are an invitation to hulking homeland hero Filippo Ganna but can come at the expense of explosive climber Giulio Ciccone.
Stage 8 – Saturday 11 May
A hard day with 3,850m of vertical gain. Prato di Tivo’s been a regular in Tirreno-Adriatico, eg 2021, and hosts the second summit finish of the Giro. It’s a long climb on a wide road, a ski station summit finish of sorts but with a wild feel as it’s remote. Once again near the Gran Sasso, RCS will be praying there’s no headwind so as to avoid this year’s anticlimactic outcome to nearby Campo Imperatore.
Stage 9 – Sunday 12 May
The Giro is back to Napoli for the third year in a row and this time a possible sprint finish but with some tricky roads in the finale, no dragster finish. First via the volcanic campi flegrei said to be more risky than Vesuvius, then into the urban streets where the peloton has its own risk. At 206km it’s the longest stage of the opening week.
A start in Pompeii and the race reaches its southernmost point before heading north into the Matese hills and a summit finish on the Bocca della Selva, a long climb but rarely steep, a big ring kind of climb and a probable breakaway day but only 141km.
A sprint stage.
A fun stage with some of the wall climbs of Tirreno-Adriatico but none of the wildest ramps. There are six categorised climbs but more unmarked ones.
A sprint stage.
Stage 14 – Saturday 18 May
The second time trial stage and inland on rural, twisting roads where a good line saves seconds.
Stage 15 – Sunday 19 May
The tappone. In a Giro of shortened stages this is the longest stage of the race. A 220km marathon and 5,200m of vertical gain and, via an excursion on Swiss tarmac, goes to Mottolino, not so much a ski resort as a ski piste – for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Livigno. It’s via the main road to the Passo Eira, then a turn onto a small service road with sections from 9-17%. As a one way road up, the rest day after is planned to allow more time to get the race infrastructure down the mountain.
The Eira again and then Stelvio from Bormio and the Cima Coppi high point, but early in the stage and the springboard for a breakaway. Then a long procession into South Tyrol and Italy’s German-speaking corner ending in a summit finish above Ortisei with gentler gradients to start and then 3km at over 10% on the Panastraße.
The Dolomites and 4,100m of climbing compressed into 159km with the famous Selva and Rolle passes before the “new” Passo Brocon, climbed once from the north then a descent to the south before climbing back up another version of the southern flank. The stats on the profile say the first time is easier but the second time up is more uneven and has some steeper parts, neither side is savage.
A sprint stage as the race exits the mountains for a day via the prosecco vineyards. Arguably more importantly it’s an active rest day for the GC contenders who can recover a bit for the upcoming days.
A day for the breakaway? Surely that’s the base case on a stage with 2,700m that’s open to many types of rider but it’s also ambush territory on the off chance a rider has a slender lead and a rival with a strong team wants to hammer things.
Stage 20 – Saturday 25 May
Two ascents of Monte Grappa, 18km at an average of 8.1% but that’s with two brief downhills on the way so it’s more often 9% or more, especially on the upper slopes. The descents matter as much as the climbs, tricky in places.
Stage 21 – Sunday 26 May
A copycat stage of this year’s finish with a start in the Eur district and then the Roman criterium finish.
Duro but not durissimo in the words of RAI TV pundit Stefano Garzelli, hard but not very hard. Grand tours touring they’re higher, further, tougher always need a reset every few years but this could mark a change in style for the Giro with reduced distances likely to be a feature. The idea is riders will be less tired and willing to attack more, a reaction to two slow burn editions that maintained TV audiences but didn’t wow the crowds.
There are only four stages longer than 200km. 200 is just a round number and of course the time taken counts more. So while there were six stages over 200km last year, there were several more around the 190km mark such that the average distance, excluding TTs and the Rome criterium, was 193km. For 2024 it’ll be 173km. It is a much shorter Giro than before. Flatter too with 42,900m of vertical gain, this is partly a function of a shorter course but by design too, there’s 8,000m less than 2023 making it the least amount since 2010.
All the same it’s not a revolutionary Giro route, the stages aren’t that short and it’s not swapped the Alps for mid-mountains. It’s a cliché to describe the Giro as “backloaded” and it’s true once again, the third week in the Alps remains decisive. The risk remains that riders mark each other, biding their time while hoping rivals will fall away but hopefully it’s more lively. Let’s pray the sun shines.
The two time trials and reduced climbing might tempt Geraint Thomas again. Aleksandr Vlasov is fresh in the memory from his punchy riding in Lombardia but is less memorable as a GC contender but can still do it. João Almeida? Mentioning UAE brings us to the big question of whether this easier Giro can attract a star rider who fancies their chances at the Tour de France too? The course is a factor and we know the Giro pays appearance fees too but being easier is relative, especially if this means the race is ridden harder and a finisher wants to compete at the Tour de France.
The rumour mill chatter is Tadej Pogačar and his UAE team are being wooed by Giro organisers RCS. With the Tour de France treading on the Giro’s toes with the start in Bologna and racing via Torino, luring the Slovenian champ would be a riposte from RCS. But can UAE afford to go into the Tour de France for two years running without Pogačar in peak condition? No matter how easier this Giro might be, it’s still hard and awkward in terms of timing with less than five weeks between the finish in Rome and the start in Bologna. Still aiming for the double could suit everyone as if Pogačar comes in undercooked to the Giro then an al dente version might not run away with pink jersey and every selective stage along the way, plus there’d be less pressure in July where stage wins rather than yellow would be the yardstick by which he’d be measured. Lots of questions and it’s a dynamic, game theory scenario where if Pogačar does not start the Giro then rival teams might send more resources to the Giro, much like Ineos deploying their A-team in the Giro rather than the Tour this year although they all know getting a look-in at the Tour de France against Vingegaard, Evenepoel and Roglič is a tall order too. For now nobody’s said they’re doing the Giro so we’ll await the Tour route out the week after next and then the likely declarations over winter.
The 18 WorldTeams start. The best two ProTeams on the UCI rankings, Lotto-Dstny and Israel-PremierTech, get invites but will they both ride? The Belgian team sat out the Giro this year could repeat after a busy home classics season. We’ll see and there are two invites for RCS to allocate. Given the time trial stages are branded “Tudor time trial stages” it’s a safe bet to assume Tudor Pro Cycling is coming and pay-to-play arguments aside they’re a decent pick with De Klein for the sprints and Michael Storer in the mountains. Finally there’s UCI rule 2.1.007 that “the organiser of a Grand Tour must guarantee the participation in the race of at least one UCI WorldTeam or UCI ProTeam from the country of the organiser” and so it’s got to be an Italian team, take your pick between Corratec, Green Project-Bardiani and Eolo-Kometa which should be renamed Team Polti although a promised presentation due for September didn’t happen.