Challenging climbs, two time trials, and gravel: 2021 Giro route announced

by Dane Cash

photography by RCS Sport


Organizers have unveiled the route of the 2021 Giro d’Italia, which will be bookended with individual time trials and feature seven finishes on categorized climbs over the course of the race, with a handful of other days for the climbers on tap as well.

Among those challenging climbing stages are a stage 11 that will include 35 km of racing on gravel roads as it takes riders from Perugia to Montalcino, a stage 14 that runs from Cittadella to the daunting Monte Zoncolan, a stage 16 that will traverse multiple mountain ascents in the Dolomites on the way from Sacile to Cortina d’Ampezzo, and a stage 20 with more then 4,800 meters of climbing and a pair of summits at over 2,000 meters.

All told, the race looks to suit those who find themselves at home in the mountains, which should be music to the ears of Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and the many other climbing stars set to attend this year’s race.

10 stages before the first rest day

The 104th Giro d’Italia will open with an individual time trial of 9 km in Turin. The race will stay in the Piedmont Region for the next two days; stage 2 looks like it will be one for the sprinters, while stage 3 will have some hills in the finale but could favor someone with a fast finish as well.

Heading south and east, stage 4, from Piacenza to Sestola, will see the Giro peloton take on the short but steep Colle Passerino just before the finish line. Stage 5 will be an opportunity for the sprinters before a mountainous stage 6, which will feature some 3,400 meters on the way from Grotte di Frasassi to Ascoli Piceno. After another chance for the sprinters on stage 7, the Giro will face two mountain stages as the peloton makes the turn west and north again to start heading back up the Italian peninsula. Stage 8, from Foggia to Guardia Sanframondi, and stage 9, from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice, will both also include roughly 3,400 meters of climbing. The latter will also see riders cover a few kilometers of gravel in the mountainous finale.

Stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia will tackle four categorized climbs.

A day for the sprinters will follow on stage 10 before a welcome first rest day.

More gravel, the Monte Zoncolan, and the Cima Coppi

Stage 11 will run 163 km from Perugia to Montalcino, and it will cover 35 km of gravel roads across four different sections in the second half of the day. With some ups and downs in the finale as well, it will definitely be one to watch.

Stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia will traverse a total of 35 kilometers of gravel roads.

With four categorized climbs and 3,700 meters of climbing on tap, stage 12 from Siena to Bagno di Romagna will be a big day for the climbers. Stage 13 should suit the sprinters as the peloton gears up for a stage 14 that will tackle the Monte Zoncolan, one of the hardest climbs in cycling.

A trip up the Zoncolan awaits the Giro peloton on stage 14.

A lumpy stage 15 will pass through Slovenia before stage 16 ascends into the Dolomites. Among the four categorized climbs on the 212 km route from Sacile to Cortina d’Ampezzo is the Cima Coppi of this year’s Giro, the highest point in the race: the Passo Pordoi at 2,239 meters.

Stage 16 will take the Giro to its highest point on the Passo Pordoi.

A grueling final week

Following the second rest day, the peloton will tackle more climbing challenges on stage 17 from Canazei to Sega di Ala. A series of hills late on stage 18 could make for an interesting finale before three big GC days to close out the race. Stage 19 will finish with a challenging new climb for the Giro, the Alpe di Mera. Then, stage 20, the last mountain stage of the race, will feature a whopping 4,800 meters of vertical gain on the road from Verbania to the Alpe di Motta. The stage will pass through Switzerland, and two of its climbs, the San Bernardino Pass and the Spluga Pass, will take the peloton over 2,000 meters of altitude.

Stage 20 will be a final chance for the climbers with three tough ascents in the second half of the stage.

Finally, the Giro will close out with an individual time trial of 29.4 km that will start in Senago and finish in Milan.

All told, the race will cover 3,450.4 km with over 46,000 meters of climbing.

The Giro gets underway on May 8 with the aforementioned Bernal, two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), and Romain Bardet (DSM) among the big names set to contend for the maglia rossa.

2021 Giro d’Italia stages

Stage 1: Torino › Torino, 9.0 km (ITT)
Stage 2: Stupinigi (Nichelino) › Novara, 173 km
Stage 3: Biella › Canale, 187 km
Stage 4: Piacenza › Sestola, 186 km
Stage 5: Modena › Cattolica, 171 km
Stage 6: Grotte di Frasassi › Ascoli Piceno (San Giacomo), 150 km
Stage 7: Notaresco › Termoli, 178 km
Stage 8: Foggia › Guardia Sanframondi, 173 km
Stage 9: Castel di Sangro › Campo Felice (Rocca di Cambio), 160 km
Stage 10: L’Aquila › Foligno, 140 km
Stage 11: Perugia › Montalcino, 163 km
Stage 12: Siena › Bagno di Romagna, 209 km
Stage 13: Ravenna › Verona, 197 km
Stage 14: Cittadella › Monte Zoncolan, 205 km
Stage 15: Grado › Gorizia, 145 km
Stage 16: Sacile › Cortina d’Ampezzo, 212 km
Stage 17: Canazei › Sega di Ala, 193 km
Stage 18: Rovereto › Stradella, 228 km
Stage 19: Abbiategrasso › Alpe di Mera (Valsesia), 178 km
Stage 20: Verbania › Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta, 164 km
Stage 21: Senago › Milano, 29.4 km (ITT)

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