The Giro d’Italia kicks off the Grand Tour season this Saturday and does so
in Herning, Denmark,
far away from its homeland.
Most of the favourites, including Ivan Basso and Roman Kreuziger, arrived yesterday on Ryanair flight 4722 from Bergamo. They travelled by bus across the Central Jutland Region to arrive in Herning, the northern-most start in Grand Tour history.
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Bjarne Riis, the 1996 Tour de France winner, calls this area home. It’s barren, often cold and at this time of the year, light for half the day. It also hosts an 8.7km time trial and two road stages.
The TT will be a controlled event, suited to Geraint Thomas (Sky), but the other days will be open affairs. One only has to look to the wind and crashes that wreaked havoc on the opening Dutch stages of the Giro two years ago, when Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans both lost their race leads.
Italian journalists are already raising their voices. On TV, a journalist from Media Set said, “The pizza here is crap!” They dream of Verona, not only for its famous Bottega del Vino, but also for the return to the Giro’s homeland.
After a team time trial, the race shoots down the Adriatic coast towards its southern-most point in Campania. Over the first weekend, Basso and the others will face the first mountain stages, passi up to 1400 metres.
Mark Cavendish (Sky), Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and other sprinters will have their chances during this run and throughout the Giro. The two stages here in Denmark may end in a sprint, there’s the one after Verona in Fano, two up the west coast and two during the final mountainous run in the north.
The TT on Saturday, the Verona TTT and the second weekend’s mountain stages will make the first big sort-out in the general classification. The final week, though, will put a definitive spin on it.
At the Billund airport, an hour’s drive south, we asked Marco Pinotti (BMC) if he thought this year was a Giro Lite. He shook his head and said, “They’re all hard.” He noted the stage near his home to Pian dei Resinelli and the famous Alpe di Pampeago. “Pampeago is the only stage that’s truly over the top.”
From Treviso, where thieves took 185 frames from Pinarello’s warehouse on Tuesday night, the 19th stage covers the Passo Manghen, Passo Lavazè and Pampeago twice. That’s around 4,600 metres of climbing, which leaves little in the tank for the final mountain romp to Passo Stelvio.
The Stelvio stage, with the Mortirolo climb, will make the final big dents in the classification. The Milan TT the next day, the final day, will make the stylistic touch.
Giro d’Italia 2012: Stages
Stage 1, May 5: Herning – Herning, 8.7km TT
Stage 2, May 6: Herning – Herning, 206km
Stage 3, May 7: Horsens – Horsens, 190km
Rest day, May 8
Stage 4, May 9: Verona – Verona, 33.2km TTT
Stage 5, May 10: Modena – Fano, 209km
Stage 6, May 11: Urbino – Porto Sant’Elpidio, 210km
Stage 7, May 12: Recanati – Rocca di Cambio, 205km
Stage 8, May 13: Sulmona – Lago Laceno, 229km
Stage 9, May 14: S. Giorgio del Sannio – Frosinone, 166km
Stage 10, May 15: Civitavecchia – Assisi, 186km
Stage 11, May 16: Assisi – Montecatini Terme, 255km
Stage 12, May 17: Seravezza – Sestri Levante, 155km
Stage 13, May 18: Savona – Cervere, 121km
Stage 14, May 19: Cherasco – Cervinia, 206km
Stage 15, May 20: Busto Arsizio – Pian dei Resinelli, 169km
Rest day, May 21
Stage 16, May 22: Limone sul Garda – Falzes, 173km
Stage 17, May 23: Falzes – Cortina d’Ampezzo, 186km
Stage 18, May 24: San Vito Cadore – Vedelago, 149km
Stage 19, May 25: Treviso – Alpe di Pamepago, 198km
Stage 20, May 26: Caldes – Passo dello Stelvio, 219km
Stage 21, May 27: Milano – Milano, 30.1km TT
Giro d’Italia 2012: Teams
Giro d’Italia 2012 start list>>
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
Androni Giocattoli (Italy)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Colnago-CSF Inox (Ireland)
Farnese Vini (Great Britain)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium)
Saxo Bank (Denmark)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
Giro d’Italia 2012: The jerseys
Maglia rosa (pink jersey) – Overall classification leader
Maglia azzurra (blue jersey) – King of the mountains
Maglia ciclamino (mauve jersey) – Points classification leader
Maglia bianca (white jersey) – Best young rider
Giro d’Italia 2012: TV guide
For full British Eurosport schedule, see our Giro TV guide
Giro d’Italia: Recent winners
2011: Michele Scarponi (Italy)
2010: Ivan Basso (Italy)
2009: Denis Menchov (Russia)
2008: Alberto Contador (Spain)
2007: Danilo Di Luca (Italy)
2006: Ivan Basso (Italy)
2005: Paolo Savoldelli (Italy)
2004: Damiano Cunego (Italy)
2003: Gilberto Simoni (Italy)
2002: Paolo Savoldelli (Italy)
Giro d’Italia: Last year’s top ten (2011)
NB: Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) had race victory stripped due to back-dated doping ban
1. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 6-10
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 6-56
3. John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:10:04
4. Joaquin Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katushaat 11-05
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 11-28
6. Jose Rujano (Ven) Androni Giocattoli at 12-12
7. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 12-18
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 13-51
9. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 14-10
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 16-08