The 2010 Giro d'Italia begins in Amsterdam but will follow a traditional and spectacular route, with the Dolomites and Italian Alps ending the final week before a time trial finish into the Roman arena in the centre of Verona.
The final week includes mountain finishes at Monte Zoncolan, Pej Terme, Aprica and the Passo Tonale, with the Plan des Corones time trial and the Mortirolo and Passo Gavia also thrown in.
Some of the riders at the presentation suggested the route may be too tough but race director Angelo Zomegnan defended his creation.
"I just hope we can have a race that ends in the final kilometre like last year," he said before explaining the celebrations linked to the 2010 Giro.
"Last year was the centenary of the Giro and in 2010 we'll celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of Fausto Coppi and the 50th anniversary of the Passo Gavia in the Giro d'Italia. It's the highest climb in the race at 2,618 metres and so is the Cima Coppi for the highest climb in the race."
Questions over overall contenders
Who will challenge for the maglia rosa in 2010 remains a mystery, with many of cycling's biggest names naturally opting to focus on the Tour de France.
Lance Armstrong has confirmed ths week that he will ride the Tour of California instead of the Giro, while Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and most other stage race riders were notable by their absence.
Bradley Wiggins might ride and he must be tempted to try and win the opening twisty 8.4km time trial in Amsterdam. However, like this year, whatever team he is riding for, he will probably use the Giro as key preparation for the Tour de France.
Even this year's winner Denis Menchov wouldn't say if he would definitely ride. The start in Amsterdam must be a huge draw for his sponsor Rabobank but the Tour de France also starts in the Netehrlands in 2010 and Menchov has shown that he is never competitive in two major Tours in the same season. The growing presence of Robert Gesink in Rabobank could also affect Menchov's 2010 objectives.
"It's difficult to say. It's probable (I'll ride) but I don't know yet," he said with an embarrassed shrug.
Alberto Contador gave his thoughts on the route in a recorded interview but admitted he will only plan his season when he knows which team he will ride for.
"It could be my first objective in 2010 with the Tour or I could ride the Giro and Vuelta but it's too early to say now," he said.
"The route suits me with the time trial and the mountain time trial. There's Plan de Corones, Mortirolo, Gavia and others. That's a lot of climbing which is good but before making a decision I want to know which team I'll be riding for."
Damiano Cunego (Lampre) said he would ride but has yet to decide if he will change his objectives in 2010 and focus just on the classics and stages in the Giro. Only Ivan Basso came out and said he would target the Giro. Ironically, he was the only big name Italian not in Milan for the presentation, because he's riding the Japan Cup on Sunday.
"It's a Giro, you can't get it wrong, but it's nice even if it's very hard in the final week," Basso said in a recorded interview.
"I'm sure I can do well in two major Tours in the same season. I really wanted to ride the Tour and the Giro. There are four of us at Liquigas: me, Nibali, Kreuziger and Pellizotti and we can all fight for big stages. I want to do well on the toughest stages and I think I can do something special."
Seven sprints could tempt Cavendish
Mark Cavendish was not at the presentation but hinted he may ride in a recorded interview. Zomegnan has put plenty of flat stages in the first half of the race as a kind of carrot to perhaps tempt Cavendish back for a third year.
"I'd like to be at the start of the Giro. The organisers have told me there seven finishes, is that right? I like racing in Italy, it's a beautiful country," Cavendish said.
However Columbia team manager Bob Stapleton will also surely have his say and perhaps decide that Cavendish has to ride the Tour of California in 2010. A decision will probably be made at the team's first training camp in December.
Both Alessandro Petacchi and Daniele Bennati said they'd be waiting for Cavendish if he does decide to ride the Giro. Petacchi will ride for Lampre in 2010, while Bennati is determined to fight back after a season wrecked by injury.
"The Giro is the race that made me what I am. Pulling on the pink jersey was great this year after all the problems I've had. There are a lot sprints and even other stages that aren't designed for us could end in the sprint," Petacchi said.
"It was hard to watch it on television. Nobody is unbeatable, even Cavendish," Bennati said provocatively.
We will see what happens in the first sprint in Utrecht on Sunday, May 9, 2010.
2010 Giro d'Italia unveiled in Milan
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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