The 2014 Giro d’Italia, presented today in Milan, will climb 5,000 metres less, spend fewer hours transferring between stages and include an extra day of rest.
“It will be a more humane Giro d’Italia,” said Andrea Monti, head of La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that started the race in 1909. “We don’t want a superman to win when the race finishes in Trieste.”
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The Giro travels 3,449.9 kilometres. It starts in Belfast on May 9 and ends in Trieste on June 1. It includes three rest days, one extra for the long transfer from Ireland to Italy’s heel in Puglia.
It climbs the Gavia, Stelvio and Zoncolan passes but 5,000 metres less than this year’s edition. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won this May, a three-week race marked by bad weather. Snow caused two stages to be shortened and one to be cancelled. Pre-race favourites Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), the defending champion, abandoned. When Nibali clinched his win, he did so under blizzard-like conditions on Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
“On paper, it seems a little more humane but we all know it’s not that way,” Nibali told Cycling Weekly. “Maybe it’ll be cold like this year and that’ll make everything harder, and not so humane, and it’ll take us all to our limit.”
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), 2011 Tour de France winner and third at the Giro this year, said that it is more balanced than the other editions he raced. “It’s by no means easy,” he added. “No three week Grand Tour is easy.”
“I think everyone, from the riders to the mechanics and the journalists, are going to like having smaller transfers,” Rigoberto Urán (Sky), second this year explained. “That will be good but I don’t know if I’ll be back to race it or if I’ll race the Tour.”
After the mammoth, 2,800-kilometre trip from Dublin to Giovinazzo in Puglia, the race book shows few dotted lines between the stages. Finishes and the next day’s starts are close. The longest drives in Italy will be around one hour and nothing like the hauls down the autostrada this year.
“It’s a modern and humane Grand Tour because it eliminates useless climbs and keeps the final, important ones,” said Mauro Vegni, Giro technical director. “It has few transfers and after our request to the UCI, one more rest day for the transfer.”
“We are thinking of the riders’ health and a good race,” Monti continued. “The Giro has fewer climbs, but more traps. It’ll be won by a rider who has the right tactics and can defend himself on the final mountain stage to Monte Zoncolan.”
For Nibali, it will not matter much. He is focusing on the Tour de France after already winning the other two Grand Tours. He said, “It’s normal that I want to go on and win the Tour.” Stars like Evans, Richie Porte (Sky), Ivan Basso (Cannondale) and Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) are planning to test the Giro’s humane concept.