The route of the 2010 Giro d'Italia was officially presented in Milan on Saturday afternoon. The race begins in Holland, and includes a team time trial after returning to Italy, ending with a tough week in the Dolomites and Italian Alps before a final time trial to Verona.
Just like this year's Vuelta a Espana and next year's Tour de France, the Giro has grabbed the money offered by Amsterdam and Holland and will spend the first three days in the Netherlands before transferring back to Italy.
Bradley Wiggins will be happy that the Giro begins with a 9.4km time trial around the centre Amsterdam and must have a great chance of pulling on the first maglia rosa, whether he is riding for Garmin or Team Sky in 2010.
Mark Cavendish and the Team Columbia management have yet to decide if he will ride the Giro d'Italia or the Tour of California next May but two flat stages from Amsterdam to Utrecht and Middleburg would give him a chance to also take the pink jersey again. There are also at least five other sprinters' stages that could tempt him to take on Alessandro Petacchi rather than ride with Lance Armstrong in California.
TEAM TIME TRIAL
The Tour de France opted to leave out a team time trial in 2010 but the Giro has avoided a mid-race time trial and opted for a 32.5km TTT between Savigliano and Cuneo on the first stage after the transfer from Holland. The road is pan flat, fast and dead straight, making it a test of speed and team work, rather than bike handling skills.
Italy offers a huge variety of landscape and terrain and even the ride south includes something on every stage. The Giro celebrates the 50th anniversary of the death of Fausto Coppi on stage five by visiting his the village of Castellania where he was born and finishing in Novi Ligure where he lived. Stage seven from Carrara to Montalcino slices across the Tuscan vineyards and includes two hilly sections of the dirt roads of the Eroica ride before the climb to the finish.
The first week will leave the overall standings close but the first mountain finish at Terminillo near Rome will change all that. The climb tops out at 1,672 metres and will give the first real indication of who is an overall contender.
After a second rest day on the Amalfi coast near Naples, the Giro heads to the heal of the Italian peninsular before heading north via L'Aquila, the town struck by an earthquake this spring, and then Marco Pantani's home town of Cesenatico. The Novi Colli Grand Fondo ride will be held two days after, on Sunday May 23, setting up a great trip of riding and Giro watching.
MOUNTAINS BEGIN ON STAGE 14
The mountains begin on stage 14 on May 22 with the steep Monte Grappa climb before the finish in Asolo. The day after the second half of the stage is packed tight with the Sella Chianzutan, the Passo Duran, Sella Valcalda and then the finish at the top of the Monte Zoncolan.
Fortunately the riders can enjoy the second rest day before the Plan des Corones mountain time trial, again dirt roads which lead right to the very summit of the ski station.
The day after is to Levico Terme is easier and stage 18 is a flat run to Brescia but then the big mountains start again, with stage 19 to Aprica that includes the Mortirolo. The now legendary Giro climb has a middle section that ascends at a leg-breaking average of 12.3%. Some of the corners are at almost 18%.
The final mountain stage is even worse, with a climb up to Livigno and then the dreaded Gavia before the descent and then final climb to the finish in Ponte di Legno on the Passo Tonale. The Gavia is the climb used in the 1988 Giro d'Italia, when the race organisers sent the riders over the climb in a snow storm. Andy Hamspten was one of the first to make it through the blizzard to the finish and went on to be the first American to win the Giro.
VERONA TIME TRIAL FINISH
The Giro traditionally ends in Milan but after the problems of this year, with cars on the criterium circuit and the subsequent rider protest, the 2010 has snubbed the Lombardy capital. Instead the race will end in Verona, with a 15.3km time trial on the Torricelle circuit used for the world championships. Like in the 1984 Giro d'Italia, when Francesco Moser snatched victory from Laurent Fignon, the time trial will end inside the Roman amphitheatre.
2010 Giro d'Italia:
Stage 1 Saturday, May 8: Amsterdam TT 8.4km
Stage 2 Sunday May 9: Amsterdam - Utrecht 209km
Stage 3 Monday, May 1: Amsterdam - Middelburg 209km
Rest day: Tuesday, May 11: Savigliano
Stage 4 Wednesday, May 12: Savigliano - Cuneo 32.5km TTT
Stage 5 Thursday, May 13: Novara - Novi Ligure 168km
Stage 6 Friday, May 14: Fidenza - Marina di Carrara 166km
Stage 7 Saturday, May 15: Carrara - Montalcino 215km
Stage 8 Sunday, May 16: Chianciano - Monte Terminillo 189km
Stage 9 Monday, May 17: Frosinone - Cava de' Tirreni 188km
Stage 10 Tuesday, May 18: Avellino - Bitonto 220km
Stage 11 Wednesday, May 19: Lucera - L'Aquila 256km
Stage 12 Thursday, May 20: Città Sant'Angelo - Porto Recanti: 191km
Stage 13 Friday, May 21: Porto Recanti - Cesenatico 222km
Stage 14 Saturday, May 22: Ferrara - Asolo (Monte Grappa): 201km
Stage 15 Sunday, May 23: Mestre - Zoncolan 218km
Rest day: Monday, May 24: Friuli
Stage 16 Tuesday, May 25: San Vigilio di Marebbe - Plan de Corones: 12.9km
Stage 17 Wednesday, May 26: Brunico - Pejo Terme 173km
Stage 18 Thursday, May 27: Levico Terme - Brescia 151km
Stage 19 Friday, May 28: Brescia - Aprica: 195km
Stage 20 Saturday, May 29: Bormio - Passa del Tonale: 178km
Stage 21 Sunday, May 30: Verona 15.3km TT
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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