Tough but balanced Giro d’Italia route unveiled, seven uphill finishes plus long time trial to shape race

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Starting in San Lorenzo Al Mare on May 9th and concluding three weeks and 3,481.8 kilometres later in Milan, the route of next year’s Giro d’Italia was unveiled Monday by race organisers RCS Sport.

What is regarded as a balanced version of the race has been unveiled, with a total of five full mountain stages, seven medium mountain stages, seven uphill finishes, seven sprint stages and two races against the clock being included.

The first of these is the opening 17.6 kilometre team time trial to Sanremo, while stage 14 will see the riders duke it out over a long 59.2 kilometre individual race from Treviso to Valdobbiadene.

The latter is something that concerns Alberto Contador slightly, with the Spaniard preferring a shorter race against the clock, but he stated at the race presentation on Monday that he intended taking part.

“It was important to be here [at the presentation] because it is a race that motivates me and which I like a lot,:” he said.

“It is a different Giro than those I have ridden before, with a time trail that is a little atypical. The seven summit finishes will mark the race. There are not too many mountain pass with impossible ramps, although there are some important ones, among others the Mortirolo. It is a fairly balanced Giro, maybe somewhat less hard than other times.”

Contador said the riders will have to adopt to the parcours and deal as well as possible with what the organisers have planned. “If I could choose I would not put a time trial like this, but I cannot do anything but prepare to the fullest and try to do my best.”

The other climbers who intend lining out at the start will also feel the same, realising that the mountain top finishes should give them opportunity to try to build an advantage over those who prefer time trials.

The route:

Following the opening team time trial, the riders will dispute a 173 kilometre race from Albenga to Genoa which looks set to finish with a bunch sprint. Much hiller stages follow after that, namely the 136 kilometre race from Rapallo to Sestri Levante and the 150 kilometre leg from Chiavari to La Spezia, then on stage five the first summit finish rears up.

The 152 kilometre race from La Spezia to Abetone will likely provide the first glimpse of which of the overall contenders is in form, and may well result in a change to the rider in the Maglia Rosa.

Another bunch sprint is likely on stage six’s 181 kilometres from Montecatini Terme to Castiglione Della Pescaia, then a 263 kilometre marathon will take the riders from Grosseto to Fiuggi.

The second summit finish follows on stage eight from Fiuggi to Campitello Matese [188 km], then a hilly stage with a downhill finish from Benevento to San Giorgio Del Sannio [212 km].

That will mark the end of the first portion of the race; May 18th will be a rest day for the riders, with the Giro restarting with a mainly flat 195 kilometres from Civitanova Marche to Forli. The following day’s 147 kilometre trek to Imola and the Autodromo Ferrari looks like an Ardennes Classics course, with a continuous up-and-down profile, while the 190 kilometre twelfth stage from Imola to Vicenza (Monte Berico) includes the third uphill finish of the race. It isn’t particularly long, but will shake things up again.

The sprinters will come out of the woodwork again on stage 13’s 153 kilometre race from Montecchio Maggiore to Jesolo, after which the time trial bikes will be dusted down for the 59.2 kilometre solo test from Treviso to Valdobbiadene. That is the longest TT in many years in the race, and will be followed by a showdown of a different sort when the riders cover 165 kilometres on May 24th from Marostica to the summit of the Madonna Di Campiglio.

Gruelling final week:

After another rest day on May 25th, the action recommences with the next summit finish, the 175 kilometre sixteenth stage from Pinzolo to Aprica. The following day is a more humane 136 kilometre race from Tirano to Lugano, and could well produce a sprint victory for one of the fastmen still in the race. Stage 18 runs from Melide to Verbania and while the 172 kilometre distance includes the 1168 metre high Monte Olongo, it drops down to the finish rather than ending at the top.

Just three stages remain at that point, with the first two of those representing the final summit finishes of the race. They come at the end of the 236 kilometre race from Gravellona Toce to Cervinia plus stage 20’s 196 kilometre leg from Saint Vincent to Sestriere. The latter will almost certainly determine the final winner, as the final stage from Turin to Milan is 185 kilometres of flat roads, and will almost certainly see the sprinters fight it out one last time.

Overall the race appears to be one for the climbers, but the Valdobbiadene time trial will not be to the liking of some of them. Contador’s Vuelta performance suggests that he could gain time there, although it remains to be seen if he will follow through on his intention to ride the race.

Given that no rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 has managed to win both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same season, targeting overall success in both is a gamble for him. It is one that this year’s Giro winner Nairo Quintana will apparently not attempt, with the Colombian thought likely to target the Tour de France only next season.

Speaking Monday, though, Contador said that he was fully committed to trying. He said that he wanted to head back to the race due to, “the affection of the Italian public that was asking me to return to their race from 2011, and as it happen again yesterday in the Tour of Lombardy.”

He gave an additional reason. “Also, to have a new challenge in my career, preparing from the first day of the season for the Giro-Tour double. I know it’s really hard, but I want to try.”

Giro d’Italia 2015:

Stage 1, May 9: San Lorenzo Al Mare to Sanremo (team time trial), 17.6 kilometres
Stage 2, May 10: Albenga to Genoa, 173 kilometres
Stage 3, May 11: Rapallo to Sestri Levante, 136 kilometres
Stage 4, May 12: Chiavari to La Spezia, 150 kilometres
Stage 5, May 13: La Spezia to Abetone (summit finish), 152 kilometres
Stage 6, May 14: Montecatini Terme to Castiglione Della Pescaia, 181 kilometres
Stage 7, May 15: Grosseto to Fiuggi, 263 kilometres
Stage 8, May 16: Fiuggi to Campitello Matese (summit finish), 188 kilometres
Stage 9, May 17: Benevento to San Giorgio Del Sannio, 212 kilometres

May 18: Rest day

Stage 10, May 19: Civitanova Marche to Forlì, 195 kilometres
Stage 11, May 20: Forlì to Imola (Autodromo Ferrari), 147 kilometres
Stage 12, May 21: Imola to Vicenza (Monte Berico – summit finish), 190 kilometres
Stage 13, May 22: Montecchio Maggiore to Jesolo, 153 kilometres
Stage 14, May 23: Treviso to Valdobbiadene (individual time trial), 59.2 kilometres
Stage 15, May 24: Marostica to Madonna Di Campiglio (summit finish), 165 kilometres

May 25: Rest day

Stage 16, May 26: Pinzolo to Aprica (summit finish), 175 kilometres
Stage 17, May 27: Tirano to Lugano, 136 kilometres
Stage 18, May 28: Melide to Verbania, 172 kilometres
Stage 19, May 29: Gravellona Toce to Cervinia (summit finish), 236 kilometres
Stage 20, May 30: Saint-Vincent to Sestriere (summit finish), 196 kilometres
Stage 21, May 31: Turin to Milan, 185 kilometres

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