Giro 2008 stage 17 Alberto Contador

The route of the 2009 centenary edition of the Giro d?Italia will be presented in Venice on Saturday afternoon, with an unconventional route likely to be the backdrop to the head to head battle between Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso.

The snow covered northern Dolomite mountains usually decide who wins the Giro?s pink jersey but next year the route will be turned upside down.

Organisers RCS sport have already confirmed that the Giro will start in Venice on May 9 with a fast and very flat 21km team time trial along the Venice Lido.

According to leaks and rumours circulating in Italy, the race will head into the Dolomites early before heading south for a mountain top finish on the Mount Vesuvius volcano overlooking Naples and then finishing in the centre of Rome with a 20km individual time trial.

In between, the Giro will re-enact the legendary Cuneo-Pinerolo stage in the Alps won by Fausto Coppi, while a time trial along the coast of the Cinque Terre will test riders speed and bike handling skills. The little known central Apennines will fill the final week, with a tough day in the Marche hills and then the climb of Blockhaus, with the finish at over 2000 metres.

The centenary edition will be a tough race but there will also be flat stages for Mark Cavendish and his Italian sprint rivals Daniele Bennati and Alessandro Petacchi. The first road stage to Trieste is expected to finish in a sprint and so could stages to Padua, Milan, Florence, Rimini and Anagni near Naples.

Lance Armstrong will ride the Giro for the first time and race director Angelo Zomegnan is convinced the American will be riding to win. This year's winner Alberto Contador has already said he wont be riding in 2009 as he concentrates on the Tour de France.

?Lance won the centenary edition of the Tour de France and now he wants to win the centenary edition of the Giro. He?s the only one who can do a unique double,? Zomegnan said recently, knowing the presence of the Texan will lift the Giro closer to the level of the Tour de France.


Cycling Weekly's 2008 Giro coverage