Giro d'Italia 2018: Seven key stages that will decide the race

The stages that could decide the destination of the pink jersey in the 2018 Giro d'Italia

Rigoberto Uran and Nairo Quintana near the top of Monte Zoncolan at the 2014 Giro d'Italia

(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

The 2018 Giro d'Italia route may be 21 stages and more than 3,500km in length, but there are just a few moments over the course of the three weeks that will decide the race.

After an opening time trial and two further road stages in Israel, the peloton will head to Italy where the first major summit finish at Mount Etna on stage six will be a chance for the GC riders to test their legs and hopefully provide more action than the Etna stage from 2017.

>>> Giro d'Italia 2018 route: full details 

Stages eight and nine at the end of the first week see back-to-back weekend summit finishes in the Apennines in central Italy. Those two stages will be a real test with both coming in at more than 200km, with stage nine's finish climb to Gran Sasso d'Italia effectively being nearly 50km in length with just a few downhill and flat sections to break the rhythm.

>>> Giro d'Italia start list: provisional list of riders revealed for 2018 race

A succession of flat and lumpy stages then follow through the second week, before the 22 per cent climb of Monte Zoncolan at the end of stage 14, where gaps are sure to appear between the main contenders.

Another less brutal summit finish on stage 15 is followed by a rest day, before the crucial 34.5km time trial on stage 16 that will be a chance for any riders who lost time on the slopes of the Zoncolan to regain ground on the pure climbers.

The few days are typical Giro d'Italia fare, with two huge stages through the Alps. First up on stage 19 is a 181km to Bardonecchia which features the gravel climb of the Colle delle Finestre midway through the climb, before another incredibly hard 214km stage with a summit finish to Cervinia on stage 20.

>>> Giro d'Italia 2018 live TV guide

This final mountain stage will be the final destination of the pink jersey is decided, with the final stage being a flat circuit around the streets of Rome where the Giro winner will be crowned.

Seven key stages of the 2018 Giro d'Italia

Stage six: Caltanissetta to Mount Etna, 163km

Stage eight: Praia a Mare to Montevergine di Mercogliano, 208km

Stage nine: Pesco Sannita to Gran Sasso d’Italia, 224km

Stage 14: San Vito al Tagliamento to Monte Zoncolan, 181km

Stage 16: Trento to Rovereto, 34.5km (ITT)

Stage 19: Venaria Reale to Bardonecchia (Jafferau), 181km

Stage 20: Susa to Cervinia, 214km

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