RCS Sport went one up on the Tour de France when it unveiled next year’s Giro d’Italia route this afternoon in Turin. As early leaks promised, the route delivers its punch in the way of mountain stages in spectacular locations.
“This Giro,” said race director, Angelo Zomegnan, “has dirt and gravel roads, new mountaintop finishes and time trials up mountains.”
The Giro starts in Turin on May 7 with a team time trial to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Italy’s unification. It ends three weeks later in Milan on May 29 with an individual time trial. However, it is the stages in between that raised eyebrows today at Turin’s Teatro Carignano.
The Giro d’Italia’s mountain stages will do more than sort the classification, they will attract television viewers and draw fans to the roadside. The race climbs one of the world’s most active volcanoes twice, weaves through Monte Zoncolan’s natural stadium, evokes cycling’s golden age with gravel roads.
Felice Gimondi, three-time race winner, explained, “It’s not going to be a walk in the park,”
Giro’s mountain days
– Montevergine: A short stage that will offer the first major differences in the classification. The race’s fifth visit and first since 2007 when Danilo Di Luca won.
– Mount Etna: The Mont Ventoux of the south is used twice on the race’s third visit, once to Lenza and the finish to Rifugio Sapienza at 1904 metres.
– Grossglockner: The Giro d’Italia visits Austria, going up to 1908 metres
– Monte Zoncolan: Sight of a spectacular duel this year between Ivan Basso and Cadel Evans. It’s the fourth visit and the third time from Ovaro, 10.1km and with gradients up to 22%.
– Val di Fassa: Stage passes over its highest point, the ‘Cima Coppi’, the Giau climb at 2236 meters.
– Macugnaga: The 28.2-kilometre climb makes its debut as a stage finish.
– Colle delle Finestre: 18.5 kilometres and the last half on gravel roads. Its first and only appearance was in 2005 when Paolo Savoldelli nearly lost the race.
“It was one of the most beautiful stages, even though I almost lost the Giro d’Italia there,” said Savoldelli of the Giro’s 2005 visit to Finestre. “Cycling needs stages like this.”
Between the summits and descents, the 2011 Giro d’Italia is balanced with plenty of medium-mountain, flat and time trial stages.
The team time trial returns for the first time in two years, since Mark Cavendish took the leader’s pink jersey after his Columbia-Highroad team win in Venice. The 21.5-kilometre stage will open the race in Turin and mark the first of three timed events, the last a 32.8-kilometre time trial in Milan and the second a 12.7-kilometre mountain time trial to Nevegal in Veneto.
Cavendish, if his team allows him to race, will have around seven opportunities to win from sprint finishes.
“This Giro,” said Cavendish’s rival, Alessandro Petacchi, “is also for sprinters.”
It’s those sprint stage finishes in the city centres and the other medium mountain stages that help give the Giro d’Italia an edge over the Tour de France. The white gravel Croce di Fighine climb from Tuscany to Orvieto in Umbria on stage five and the following day’s stage through Lazio to the spa town of Fuggi, the up-and-down stage to Castelfidardo and a cliffhanger stage finish down from the Ganda climb to San Pellegrino.
Giro d’Italia 2011
Stage 1: Sat 7 May 21,5 Km Venaria Reale – Turin (Team Time Trial)
Stage 2: Sun 8 May 242 Km Alba – Parma
Stage 3: Mon 9 May 178 Km Reggio Emilia – Rapallo
Stage 4: Tue 10 May 208 Km Quarto dei Mille – Livorno
Stage 5: Wed 11 May 201 Km Piombino – Orvieto
Stage 6: Thu 12 May 195 Km Orvieto – Fiuggi Terme
Stage 7: Fri 13 May 100 Km Maddaloni – Montevergine di Mercogliano
Stage 8: Sat 14 May 214 Km Sarpi – Tropea
Stage 9: Sun 15 May 159 Km Messina – Etna
Mon 16 May Rest Day
Stage 10: Tue 17 May 156 Km Termoli – Teramo
Stage 11: Wed 18 May 160 Km Tortoreto Lido – Castefidardo
Stage 12: Thu 19 May 171 Km Castefidardo – Ravenna
Stage 13: Fri 20 May 159 Km Spilimbergo – Grossglockner
Stage 14: Sat 21 May 210 Km Lienz – Monte Zoncolan
Stage 15: Sun 22 May 230 Km Conegliano – Gardeccia/Val di Fassa
Mon 23 May Rest Day
Stage 16: Tue 24 May 12.7 Km Belluno – Nevegal (Individual Time Trial)
Stage 17: Wed 25 May 246 Km Feltre – Sondrio
Stage 18: Thu 26 May 147 Km Morbegno – San Pellegrino Terme
Stage 19: Fri 27 May 211 Km Bergamo – Macugnaga
Stage 20: Sat 28 May 242 Km Verbania – Sestriere
Stage 21: Sun 29 May 32.8 Km Milan – Milan (Individual Time Trial)