The 2018 Giro d’Italia will start in Jerusalem, end in Rome, and feature Chris Froome fighting for the maglia rosa.
The 2,546km route is light on time trial kilometres, with fewer major climbs than in recent years, but plenty of options for punchy riders. The route features eight uphill finishes, but only half of those are primed for the pure climbers. The most difficult mountain stages are mostly packed into the second half of the race, led by stage 14, which finishes atop the steep ramps of Monte Zoncolan.
Three tough alpine stages are stacked into the final week. Stage 18 to Prato Nevoso, stage 19 to Bardonecchia, and stage 20 to Cervinia will offer opportunities for the climbers.
Contenders will face 44.2km time trial kilometres, including a 10km opening TT in Jerusalem, but no team time trial.
Giro champion Tom Dumoulin attended the route presentation in Milan, but could not confirm his participation.
“I love all sorts of time trials and I like a Grand Tour to start this way, with an ITT, it will be the first opportunity to wear the Maglia Rosa,” Dumoulin said. “The mountain stages are always the ones to be careful about: the Zoncolan, but also the following day, stage 15 is really not to be underestimated.”
Video: Route of the 2018 Giro d’Italia
Froome did not appear at the route presentation, but Team Sky confirmed that the reigning Tour de France and Vuelta a España would be at the start in Jerusalem.
“It’s a unique situation for me, having won the Tour and Vuelta and now having the opportunity to go to the Giro and attempt to win a third consecutive Grand Tour,” Froome said. “It’s really exciting to be able to take on a new challenge, to do something that perhaps people wouldn’t expect and to mix it up. It’s a whole new motivation for me to see if I can pull off something special next year.”
Victory at the Giro d’Italia would make Froome only the seventh rider in history to have won all three Grand Tours in their career. Two others, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali, attended the Giro presentation Wednesday in Milan.
Following three opening stages in Israel, the Giro’s first trip outside Europe, the route heads to Sicily and takes in the climb to Mt. Etna. It then heads to the Italian mainland, working its way north across the Apennines, into the Dolomites, and then rides West into the Italian Alps before a transfer to Rome for the final stage, one for the sprinters.
“Racing at home is something special because of the public who cheer and help sustain you in so many ways,” Nibali said. “The support from the people makes it unique, it is difficult to explain. The Sicilian stages are in the areas of the island I know less well, I have never climbed the Etna from the observatory side… I know Froome well, I challenged him at the Vuelta a few months ago. It’s not only him but all of his team that’s really strong, and will be hard to beat.”
The first week
After the technical, 10km opening time trial in Jerusalem, the Giro peloton will take in two sprint stages to Tel Aviv and Eilat before transferring back to Europe on an early rest day. Two punchy stages are followed by the first test, Stage 6, which finishes with a 25km climb to Mt. Etna via Ragalna on a narrow, winding road.
“The first climbs are really important because you have good condition from the beginning of the race,” said Fabio Aru. “Losing seconds or even minutes at the start of the Giro could be very difficult to recover later.”
Sprinters will have their day again on Stage 7 before tackling two uphill finishes to Montevergine Di Mercogliano and Gran Sasso d’Italia. While difficult, shallower gradients should keep most GC favourites on a short leash.
The second week
The longest stage of the 2018 Giro, 239km from Penne to Gualdo Tadino, greets riders after the second rest day. Gone are the days of nearly-300km Giro stages, it seems.
Stage 11 to Osimo is dedicated to the memory of Italian Michele Scarponi and, once again, suits punchy riders. A series of steep walls in the finale is punctuated by the Muro di Filottrano, with 14% ramps.
The week finishes off with the most difficult climb of the Giro, the Zoncolan, before heading into a rest day in Trento.
The third week
How do the legs feel after the final rest day? They better be good, because Stage 16 is a 34.5km individual time trial, the final opportunity for time trialists to take time. The route to Rovereto is almost completely flat.
After a transitional sprint stage, the Giro heads into the Alps for three mountain-packed stages that will decide the race for the maglia rosa. Stage 18 is mostly flat before a long kick up to Prato Nevoso. Stage 18 takes in the dirt and gravel roads of Colle delle Finestre. Finally, Saturday’s penultimate stage takes in over 4,500 meters of climbing across three major passes, finishing atop Jaffreu, a 7km climb with an average gradient of 9%.
The final stage, in and out of Rome, will be a procession with a sprinter’s finish.
In all, the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia totals 3,546.2km, with 44,000 meters of vertical elevation, two individual time trials, seven low difficulty stages, six of medium difficulty, six high difficultym and a total of eight summit finishes.
2018 Giro d’Italia route
Stage 1 — May 4, Jerusalem West 9.7km individual time trial
Stage 2 — May 5, Haifa – Tel Aviv 167km
Stage 3 — May 6, Be’er Sheva – Eilat 229km
Rest day — May 7
Stage 4 — May 8, Catania – Caltagirone 191km
Stage 5 — May 9, Agrigento – Santa Ninfa (Valle del Belice) 152km
Stage 6 — May 10, Caltanissetta – Etna 163km
Stage 7 — May 11, Pizzo – Praia A Mare 159km
Stage 8 — May 12, Praia A Mare – Montevergine Di Mercogliano 208km
Stage 9 — May 13, Pesco Sannita – Gran Sasso d’Italia 224km
Rest day — May 14
Stage 10 — May 15, Penne – Gualdo Tadino 239 km
Stage 11 — May 16, Assisi – Osimo 156km
Stage 12 — May 17, Osimo – Imola 213km
Stage 13 — May 18, Ferrara – Nervesa Della Battaglia 180km
Stage 14 — May 19, San Vito Al Tagliamento – Monte Zoncolan 181km
Stage 15 — May 20, Tolmezzo – Sappada 176km
Rest day — May 21
Stage 16 — May 22, Trento – Rovereto 34.5km individual time trial
Stage 17 — May 23, Franciacorta Stage (Riva del Garda – Iseo) 155km
Stage 18 — May 24, Abbiategrasso – Prato Nevoso 196km
Stage 19 — May 25, Venaria Reale – Bardonecchia 181km
Stage 20 — May 26, Susa – Cervinia 214km
Stage 21 — May 27, Rome – Rome, 118km