The 2011 Giro d’Italia ends with a time trial leg in Milan on Sunday, but features less glam and distance than before. Organiser RCS Sport modified the course to allow citizens to easily travel to local voting centres.
“Following an agreement between the Municipality of Milan and RCS Sport,” read a press release, “to make the impact on city traffic lighter, give the local elections day.”
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Brit David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) and other time trial specialists may have less of an advantage on the shorter course. RCS Sport moved the start from the centre to the outskirts of Milan, at the Rho convention centre, home of the 2015 Expo. The Rho start means Millar and the other cyclists will cover 5.5 kilometres less, down from 31.5 kilometres to 26 kilometres.
Millar won two time trials last year, one of 14.8 kilometres at the Three Days of De Panne and one of 7.7 kilometres at the Critérium International. At the 2009 Vuelta a España, he won the 26-kilometre test on the penultimate day.
The final Giro stage still finishes in the piazza outside of Milan’s famous Duomo, where Alberto Contador will likely be crowned winner for a second time. The race last finished in Milan in 2008: Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) won the 28.5-kilometre time trial and Contador the overall victory.
The new course spends less time in Milan’s heart – skipping the south, Porta Ticinese and Porta Roma – and more in the industrial zone towards Rho. Instead of racing from the historical Castello Sforzesco, out to Rho and back into the city, RCS Sport will host the start in Rho’s convention centre parking lot.
For the last few years, the Milan-San Remo has begun outside of Castello Sforzesco.
“With the course how it was,” race director, Angelo Zomengan told La Gazzetta dello Sport, “we would have crossed twice the Piazzale Accursio, where there are many electoral seats.”
Local police will now only be required to close the city streets from 12:00 to 17:30, instead of 10:00 to 18:00. The course will be open for training for an hour, starting at 12:00.
The changes have also rendered the course less technical. It loops twice around Rho, but lacks as many city corners and streets.
RCS Sport received critisism for its course changes on Saturday to Monte Zoncolan. It skipped the Monte Crostis due to safety and logistical concerns. Fans protested and forced the organiser to also skip a 20-kilometre section, including the Tualis climb.
When the Giro d’Italia last visited in Milan, the 2009 Milano Show, riders striked due to unsafe conditions. Danilo Di Luca and reportedly Lance Armstrong led the strike, forcing the organiser to annul all but the sprint. Mark Cavendish won.
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Giro d’Italia 2011: Stage reports
Giro d’Italia 2011: Photo galleries
Stage 16 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 15 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 14 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 13 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Giro d’Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d’Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d’Italia 2011: TV schedule