By Gregor Brown
Organiser RCS Sport will unveil the 2013 Giro d'Italia route on Sunday in Milan, but details are already coming through. The Italian tour is rumoured to island-hop to Ischia and climb the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
The three-week Grand Tour starts in Naples on May 4 and ends on May 26. The Italian sports newspaper and original sponsor of the race, La Gazzetta dello Sport revealed today the penultimate stage will finish on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Torriani to Acquarone
Vincenzo Torriani rests as the Giro d'Italia's last great patron. He took the race from the war years and increased is popularity to the point where cycling became Italy's number one sport. In his days, the Giro dominated the Gazzetta dello Sport's front page, with a small box dedicated to a Milan or Juventus match win below.
During his reign, he introduced the cycling world to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in 1967. That year the organisers annulled the stage results after fans pushed most all cyclists up the climb in blizzard conditions. It climbs from 1,752 to 2,333 metres, averaging 7.5 per cent. In the final four kilometres, the average is just above 12 per cent.
Torriani brought Tre Cime back in 1968, when Eddy Merckx used it as a springboard to his first Grand Tour win. Again snowing, Merckx dropped his rivals and rode into the pink jersey. It "was essentially a handicap race, with Merckx carving his way through the riders spread out in front of him up the climb, passing the lesser lights as if they were standing," wrote William Fotheringham in his book, Half Man, Half Bike. Gianni Motta and Italo Zilioli finished four minutes back. Felice Gimondi at six minutes back. "Incredible gaps for a single mountain top finish... The rest of the Giro was a formality."
Torriani took the Giro back to Tre Cime in 1974, 1981 and 1989. Angelo Zomegnan re-introduced it in 2007, when Riccardo Riccò won ahead of Saunier Duval team-mate Leonardo Piepoli, both busted for EPO use one year later in the Tour de France. As the Gazzetta wrote today, "The Tre Cime merits more respect, more purity."
The newly appointed director, Michele Acquarone will take the Giro back to Tre Cime and hopefully re-discover the magic Torriani tapped. Acquarone placed it on the penultimate day as the race's final mountain act.
RCS Sport confirmed last week that the 15th leg will head into France to finish up the Col du Galibier. The stage, one week before the race ends, will travel from Cesana Torinese and head into France for the Télégraphe and the Galibier's north face. From Valloire, the Galibier climbs 18 kilometres to 2,645 metres.
On Saturday, the day before Galibier, the climb to Jafferau at 1,908 metres is rumoured to start the final weekend.
RCS Sport already announced in June the Giro would start from Naples with a possible road stage. The rumoured team time trial may not run until the next day, when the race island-hops to Ischia. The volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples last hosted a stage, an individual time trial, in 1959. Italian newspaper, Il Mattina, reported yesterday that local officials signed a deal for a stage from Ischia Porto to Forio.
Mixed reports fill the air regarding the final stage; some say Milan and some say Brescia. However, most agree it will involve Vicenza to celebrate Tullio Campagnolo, who died 30 years ago. The final week could feature two time trials, one uphill to Polsa and a flat one, near 30km. The location and date, however, is still unknown.
Giro d'Italia 2013: Possible stages
May 4: Naples
May 5: Ischia Porto - Forio TTT
May 6: Marina di Ascea - Cosenza
May 7: Sibari - Martinafranca
May 8: Altamura - Barletta
May 9: Foggia - Tortoreto Lido
May 10: Giulianova - Numana
May 11: Senigallia - Città di Castello
May 12: San Sepolcro - Florence
May 13: Rest day transfer to Friuli
May 14: Cordenons - Malga Montasio
May 15: Cave del Predil - Erto
May 16: Longarone - Treviso
May 17: Busseto - Cherasco
May 18: Cervere - Jafferau
May 19: Cesana Torinese - Galibier
May 20: Rest day
May 21: Bergamo ??
May 24: Mori - Polsa TT
May 25: Tre Cime di Lavaredo
May 26: Vicenza - Brescia
Giro d'Italia 2013 will feature iconic Galibier climb
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