By Gregor Brown
The Giro d'Italia will feature more sprints and be ideal for Sky and Mark Cavendish next year. New race director, Michele Acquarone explained the three-week stage race will be "balanced" and different from last year.
"More sprints for Cavendish? Definitely," Acquarone told Cycling Weekly. "We need balance. All the champions need to have the chance to show off their talents."
Cavendish won two sprint stages and held the race leader's pink jersey this year after his HTC-Highroad team took the opening time trial. After stage 12, he left to prepare for the Tour de France and because he had no chance to win in the following week's mountain stages.
The Giro d'Italia's organiser RCS Sport was criticised for the race's multiple transfers, one up to 10 hours' long, and consecutive high-mountain stages. RCS Sport decided to change leaders, replacing Angelo Zomegnan, only the fourth director in 100 years, with Acquarone.
Acquarone began working RCS Sport in 1999, helping market Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport's products and became RCS Sport's general director in 2008.
He and RCS Sport will present the 2012 Giro d'Italia route this Sunday in Milan. It already announced that the race will start in Herning, Denmark, with three stages and feature two mountain stages, one to Cortina d'Ampezzo and one to Stelvio on the penultimate day. Besides the opening time trial, according to recent reports, the race will feature a team time trial in Verona after the rest day/transfer from Denmark and a final individual time trial in Milan.
"Will it be drastically different? No," Acquarone continued. "But we will take care of the riders because we want them in top shape all the time. We need them to recover, so for sure, there will be shorter transfers and the stages will be more balanced. The Giro is a tough race - it has to be, it's in our DNA - but we will have be balanced, which means after a tough stage riders will be able to recover with an easier stage."
Zomegnan planned the start in Denmark and Acquarone said the Giro would continue to go abroad about every two years. It first started outside Italy in 1945 and last did so in 2009, when it started in Amsterdam. Sky's Bradley Wiggins won on the opening day's time trial and led the race for one day.
London could be a future stop thanks to the emergence of Wiggins, Cavendish and team Sky.
"I'd like to go to London," Acquarone said. "I believe that London now has a big target [the Olympics] and doesn't want to think about the Giro, but it would be great to start from the UK in the future.
"I'd like to touch all the European countries, we can do it and it's affordable. Every two years, we'd like to bring the Italian show to other countries and find other fans."
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