Whether or not you’re new to the Giro d’Italia, here are 10 things that you should know about it.
1. Time bonuses
Time bonuses are available on every road stage (not time trials) of this year’s race, which could make a big difference to the tactics of Vincenzo Nibali. The Italian favourite will be looking to snatch every second he can from Bradley Wiggins and could do so on any uphill finish. The time bonuses on each stage are:
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1st place – 20 seconds
2nd place – 12 seconds
3rd place – 8 seconds
Time bonuses will also be awarded to the first and second riders over the line at each intermediate sprint. There are two intermediate sprints each day, six seconds will be awarded to the first rider and four to the second rider.
2. Mountain top finishes
There are seven mountain-top finishes in this year’s race:
Stage 10 finishes at the top of the Altopiano del Montasio (1,519m). The climb is 22km in length, although the first 11km is more of a drag than a climb. The steepest section is 20% at approximately four kilometres to go
Stage 11 sees a less severe climb to the finish with the 7.5km climb to Vajont (809m) at the end of the 182km stage. The steepest section is just 9%
Stage 14 is the first of three tough stages in the Alps finishing in Bardonecchia (1,908m). The final climb is only 7.25km long but is consistently steep. It also comes immediately ate the long climb up to Sestriere
Stage 15 boasts the highest finish line in the race at the top of the Col du Galibier at 2,642m above sea level. The Tour de France finished here in 2011 (when Andy Schleck won) but this year’s Giro is coming from the opposite side. The riders tackle the 16km Col du Télégraphe first then start the Galibier from Valloire giving a final climb of 18.1km in length with a maximum gradient of 11%
Stage 18 is the mountain time trial that takes the riders from Mori at 187m to Polsa at 1,205m. It’s a 20.6km climb with a maximum gradient of 10%. There are two very brief flat sections around halfway.
Stage 19 takes the riders up three big climbs, finishing at Val Martello Martelltal (2,059m). This 22.35km climb has two sections of 14% as its steepest points. Before this climb the riders will have taken in the Passo Dello Stelvio, the highest point on the race at 2,758m, and always a focal point of the Giro.
Stage 20 is the final, and perhaps the hardest, mountain stage of the 2013 Giro. THere are five categorised climbs on this stage, the last one being the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (2,304m). It’s only short at 4.75km (it comes hot on the heals of two smaller peaks) but it has a cruel 18% gradient for most of the climb.
Stage 4 could almost be considered a summit finish, but not quite. The summit of the category 2 climb Croce Ferrata (907m) comes 6.7km before the finish line from where there is some descending and a false flat to the line. Strictly speaking it may not be a hilltop finish but it should force and early shake up of the GC.
3. Prize money
The prize pot for the Giro d’Italia is a lot smaller than that of the Tour with a total prize fund of €1,383,110. €90,000 goes to the overall winner while second place takes €50,000 and third place €20,000. The winner of each stage pockets €11,010 with money going down to 20th place (€276 for 10th – 20th positions). Winner of the points jersey gets €71,500 with €45,800 going to the King of the Mountains.
There are four jerseys for classification leaders at the Giro. The pink jersey (maglia rosa) is worn by the overall leader (the rider with the lowest cumulative time). It takes its colour from the pages of the Gazzetta dello Sport. The blue jersey (maglia azzurra) is worn by the leader of the King of the Mountains classification, the red jersey (maglia rossa) by the leader of the points competition and the white jersey (maglia bianca) by the best young rider in the race.
5. Where to follow the race
There are plenty of places to follow the Giro d’Italia this year, and not just with Cycling Weekly magazine. While we will be bringing you coverage on our website, through our @CyclingWeekly Twitter account, Facebook and Google Plus pages.
The Giro also has its own official feeds:
In the UK you can watch live coverage on British Eurosport every day while highlights will be on Sky Sports every evening. BBC Five Live radio are also covering the whole race with Simon Brotherton and Rob Hayles. British Eurosport and Sky Sports TV schedules for Giro d’Italia coverage>>
6. Giro firsts
The corsa rosa welcomes for the first time a Chinese and a Greek rider. Ioannis Tamouridis rides in what used to be a Basque-only team, Euskaltel-Euskadi, and Cheng Ji will help lead out Argos-Shimano’s sprinter, John Degenkolb.
Ji, 25, also became the first Chinese rider to race the Vuelta a España last year. With him, comes enormous media coverage. China sent nine journalists to cover the race and agreed to show the race on state television, CCTV.
7. Old and young
Stefano Garzelli (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) races into his 16th and final season as a professional. At 39 years of age, he is the Giro d’Italia granddaddy. Danilo Hondo (RadioShack-Leopard) is 39 as well, but around 170 days younger. Had Alessandro Petacchi lined up, Garzelli would have still kept the honour.
Garzelli won the 2000 edition and helped Marco Pantani to the same in 1998.
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge), time trial and track specialist, is the youngest rider at 22 years old. The Giro marks his Grand Tour debut.
8. Grand Tour winners
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) headlines the Giro d’Italia after winning the Tour de France last year. He is part of one of eight Grand Tour winners lining up this year, including defending Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).
Bradley Wiggins (Sky, 2012 Tour), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp, 2012 Giro), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida, 2011 Giro), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing, 2011 Tour), Juan José Cobo (Movistar, 2011 Vuelta), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana, 2010 Vuelta), Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini, 2007 Giro) and Stefano Garzelli (Vini Fantini, 2000 Giro)
9. Sprint days
For the first time in years, the Giro starts and ends with sprint stages. Whoever sprints to victory in Naples on Saturday will take the race’s first pink jersey. In total, there are seven possible bunch sprint stages: Naples, Matera, Margherita di Savoia, Treviso, Cherasco, Vicenza and Brescia.
“There are hard days, but overall it’s not really hard,” Cavendish told Cycling Weekly when the race was presented. “There are five definite sprints and probably two more … which are really good for my chances.”
10. Michele Acquarone
The Giro has been racing around Italy for 100 years, but it has had only five directors. Michele Acquarone took over from Angelo Zomegnan after the 2011 edition.
If he appears humble then that’s due to the years he spent discovering the new world and working as a busboy is New York City and Miami. Those trips got him away from home in San Remo and broadened his view of the world.
Acquarone started working for RCS Sport in 2000 on different media-related projects. Over the last one and a half years, he has proven to be the most accessible director yet. Mention @micacquarone on Twitter and you’ll see why.