Giro d'Italia organizers RCS Sport have revealed a spectacular course for the 2014 Giro d'Italia at a ceremony in Milan. No less than 9 uphill finishes, a tough mountain time trial, a long time trial in the Barolo district and an opening team time trial will test the riders from the very beginning of the three-week race that will begin in Belfast and finish with a sprint stage in Trieste.
The recent trend of adding more uphill finishes to the courses for the grand tours will continue in 2014. The Giro d'Italia organizers RCS Sport are the first to reveal the itinerary of their three-week race and they have included no less than 9 summit finishes in what shapes up to be a brutal course for the 97th edition of the race.
Already on the 5th stage, the riders will be greeted with their first uphill finish and after 9 stages, they will already have been tested in tough terrain on four occasions. Later the race heads to the mountains in the Northern part of the country for two stages that are dedicated to the late Marco Pantani in a race that will honour the Italian hero 10 years after his death.
The final week of the race will be a brutal one. First up is a copy of the brutal stage over the Gavia and Stelvio and Val Martello climbs that was cancelled due to bad weather in this year's edition. It is followed by another uphill finish in Valsugana and a brutal mountain time trial up the Monte Grappa where Vincenzo Nibali won a stage in the 2010 edition of the race.
The GC will be decided on the penultimate stage that was already revealed a few weeks ago. The stage has the subtitle "Welcome to Hell" and takes the riders up two high mountains before a finish on the brutally steep Monte Zoncolan that was last included in the 2011 edition of the race when Igor Anton beat Alberto Contador. With its 11,9% average gradient and maximum of 22%, the climb has the potential to produce a major shake-up of the GC just one day before the finish in Trieste.
While the climbers will lick their lips in anticipation of a route that offers them several opportunities to show off their talents, the winner has to be a versatile athlete. As already revealed, the race will include a long 46,4km time trial over rolling terrain in the Barolo wine district. The time trialists will also come to the fore on the very first day when things kick off with a flat 21,7km team time trial in Belfast.
This year's edition of the Vuelta a Espana also had plenty of uphill finishes and offered very few opportunities for the sprinters. This won't be the case for the Giro. 8 stages are described as flat and will suit the fast finishers well. In general, the course seems to be one for specialist climbers, sprinters or time trialists with very few rolling stages for breakaways.
An extra rest day
As revealed during the world championships, the UCI has granted the Giro an exception from the rules that allow them to start the race on a Friday and include three rest days. New rules have been put in place to ensure that the first rest day cannot be scheduled until after one week of racing. As already revealed the race will start in Belfast and stay in Northern Ireland and when the Irish start was announced, RCS claimed to have found a logistical solution that would make it possible to move the race back to Italy without having to include an early rest day. That ended up being impossible and so the UCI had to bend their own rules to accommodate the departure from Belfast.
While the start in Northern Ireland has long been known, the exact natures of the first three stages have been revealed. The race will kick off on Friday May 9 with a flat 21,7km team time trial in Belfast. The race continues with a flat 218km stage starting and finishing in the capital. The next day the riders will head to Ireland for a flat 187km stage from Armagh to Dublin.
Back in Italy
The first rest day is scheduled for Monday May 12 and racing will resume one day later in Italy with a short 121km flat stage from Giovinazzo to Bari on the Adriatic coast. The race continues with its first uphill finish on an otherwise flat 200km stage from Taranto on the coast that finishes with the 7,5km Viggiano climb. The next day offers another uphill finish on the long 247km stage from Sassano to Montecassino that passes Napoli on the way to the not overly difficult climb to the finish.
The next stage will be one for the sprinters that will enjoy the flat roads from Frosinone to Foligno. The climbers will get back into action one day later on the first stage that is dedicated to Marco Pantani. The 174km route will take the riders up Pantani's training climb Cippo di Carpegna (7,85km, 8,3%, max. 14%) before its finish on the Montecopiolo 1235m above sea level. One day later, the riders will tackle another uphill finish on the long Sestola climb (10,7km, 5,7%, max. 13%) but as the final 4km only have a gradient of 4,1%, it is not expected to produce too much of a difference.
A diverse second week
The riders will enjoy their second rest day on Monday May 19 before continuing with a flat 184km stage from Modena to Salsomaggiore Terme. Next up is a long 249km stage to Savona that has a small climb close to the finish and may be one for a breakaway. Then it's time for the highly anticipated 46,4km time trial in Barolo and a short, flat, 159km stage to Rivarolo Canavese.
The third weekend is dedicated to Pantani and has two uphill finishes where Il Pirata has won in the past. Saturday's stage finishes on the Oropa climb (8,95km, 6,2%, max. 13%) where Pantani claimed stage victory in 1999 by passing 49 riders after slipping his chain at the foot of the climb. One day later, the otherwise flat 217km 15th stage will finish on Plan di Montecampione (18,65km, 7,8%, max. 12%) where Pantani duelled with Pavel Tonkov on the final summit finish of his victorious 1998 Giro.
A brutal third week
After a rest day, the racing resumes with a repeat of the cancelled stage over Gavia and Stelvio to Val Martello (22,3km, 6,4%, max. 14) which is followed by a flat stage from Sarnonico to Vittorio Veneto. It precedes three tough stages that will decide the 2014 Giro.
First up is the 171km stage from Belluno to Ref Panarotta that includes the passages of two major climbs before the uphill finish (15,85km, 7,9%, max. 14%). It is followed by the 26,8km time trial up Monte Grappa (19,3km, 8,0%, max. 145) which kicks off with 7,5km of flat roads. The GC will be decided on the brutal penultimate stage that sends the riders up Passo del Pura and Sella Razzo before the finish on Monte Zoncolan (10,9km, 11,9%, max. 22%).
The race ends on Sunday June 1 with a 169km flat stage to Trieste.
May 9, stage 1: Belfast - Belfast, team time trial, 21.7km
May 10, stage 2: Belfast - Belfast, 218km
May 11, stage 3: Armagh - Dublin, 187km
May 12: Rest day and transfer
May 13, stage 4: Giovinazzo - Bari, 121km
May 14, stage 5: Taranto - Viggiano, 200km
May 15, stage 6: Sassano - Montecassino, 247km
May 16, stage 7: Frosinone - Foligno, 214km
May 17, stage 8: Foligno - Montecopiolo, 174km
May 18, stage 9: Lugo - Sestola, 174km
May 19: Rest day
May 20, stage 10: Modena - Salsomaggiore, 184km
May 21, stage 11: Collecchio - Savona, 249km
May 22, stage 12: Barbaresco - Barolo, individual time trial, 46.4km
May 23, stage 13: Fossano - Rivarolo Canavese, 158km
May 24, stage 14: Agliè - Oropa, 162km
May 25, stage 15: Valdengo - Montecampione, 217km
May 26: Rest day
May 27, stage 16: Ponte di Legno - Val Martello/Martelltal, 139km
May 28, stage 17: Sarnonico - Vittorio Veneto, 204km
May 29, stage 18: Belluno - Rif. Panarotta (Valsugana), 171km
May 30, stage 19: Bassano del Grappa – Cima Grappa (Crespano del Grappa) individual time trial, 26.8km
May 31, stage 20: Maniago - Monte Zoncolan, 167km.
June 1, stage 21: Gemona – Trieste, 169km.
1 team time trial
2 individual time trials
8 flat stages
5 medium mountain stages
5 high mountain stages
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