Riders also given a chance to preview the World Championship road race route
If you’re after a mountainous stage race to look forward to in the 2018 season, then look no further than the Tour of the Alps, which, as you can probably guess from its name, contains no shortage of climbing.
The race – formerly known as the Giro del Trentino – will cover roads in Italy and Austria for the second year in succession, with the 2018 event packing in 13,100m of climbing in 10 classified climbs spread over five stages.
Stage one, April 16: Arco – Folgaria 134.6km
The opening stage of the race on Monday, April 16 will start in Arco and cover 134.6km to Folgaria, packing in 2,530m of climbing including an 18km final climb that tops out just six kilometres from the finish line, which is reached by a final 10 per cent ramp.
Stage two, April 19: Lavarone – Fiemme/Alpe di Pampeago 145.5km
Stage two sees the only genuine summit finish of the race, at the end of a 145.5km stage between Lavarone and Alpe di Pampeago. This 7.7km climb has an average gradient of 10 per cent, with slopes of 15 per cent in the final five kilometres, and has been used five times in the Giro d’Italia, Roman Kreuziger winning on its most recent visit in 2012.
Stage three, April 18: Auer/Ora – Meran/Merano 138.3km
Despite being rated by the organisers as the easiest of the race, stage three sees the Tour of the Alps cross the border into Austria with two big climbs over the 18km Mendola Pass and 13km Passo Palade on the road to Meran, including more than 2,600m of climbing.
Stage four, April 19: Klausen/Chiusa – Lienz 134.3km
The next day sees the riders treated to another fairly short day in the saddle, with 134.3km between Klausen and Lienz. However despite the profile appearing relatively benign, the stage still includes 2,300m of climbing, and both of the day’s climbs including double digit gradients at one time or another.
Stage five, April 20: Rattenberg – Innsbruck 161.6km
The Tour of the Alps concludes with a 161km stage between Rattenberg and Innsbruck, and will provide a glimpse at some of the course for the 2018 World Championships which take place in Innsbruck in September.
The peloton at the Tour of the Alps will cover the 6.7km climb to Igls three times on the circuit around Innsbruck, with the same ascent being used seven times for the men’s elite road race at the World Championships. One of the other climbs on stage five, to Gnadenwald, will be the major obstacle in the men’s elite time trial at the World Championships.
However the Tour of the Alps route will not include the final climb of the World Championship road race, a shorter, narrow climb to the north of Innsbruck that hits gradients of 25 per cent, and will be crested close to the finish of the race in September.
The race attracted a high-quality field in 2017, and race organisers have attracted just as many big names, including Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates).