This year’s Giro d’Italia is anything but an easy race – but who wants an easy race, anyway? Lots (and we do mean lots!) of climbs, flat stages for the sprinters, and some really good chances for those risk-taking breakaways. For more about the team in the Giro, click here.
And we open and close with individual time trials! Let’s have a look at all the 21 stages and what we can expect from the ISN guys.
STAGE 1: Torino-Torino, ITT, 8.6 km
Things kick off in the far northwestern corner of Italy, with a gentle stroll through historic Torino along the Po River. Ok, it is actually a fast-moving individual time trial of 8.6 km, with one intermediate time check at the Borgo Medievale de Valentino at kilometer 3.8
The guys won’t have time to explore this reconstructed medieval village and park on the riverside, as they rush to be the first to pull on the coveted pink leader’s jersey. And we know two time-trial aces, both former World Hour Record holders, who would be happy to trade their regular ISN jerseys for a pink one. Mark this one down for either Matthias or Alex. Or possibly Paddy Bevin?
STAGE 2: Stupinigi (Nichelino) – Novara, 179 km
Basically flat today, although the organizers were luckily able to squeeze in a cat. 4 climb almost exactly halfway through – have to get that mountain jersey going, right?
On the history front, Stupinigi is best known for the 18th century Palazzina di Stupinigi, rather recent by Italian standards. Especially compared to the finishing town of Novara, founded in 89 BC.
At any rate, it is a sprint stage, and with Davide, we are well outfitted for the challenge.
STAGE 3: Biella – Canale, 190 km
We’re staying in the same area for a third day and easing into the climbing today. The final third of the stage features a cat. 3 and two cat. 4 climbs, within about 40 km. Or as the race organizers say, “a wavy stage”.
The final climb – an unranked one – comes with 15 km to go and could well be a launching pad for a successful attack to the finish line. We are calling a break group to the end for this one and have a number of ISN riders ready and willing to go for it.
STAGE 4: Piacenza – Sestola, 186 km
Things start getting challenging today. The day starts out gently but after 72 km the fun is over. Let’s go up! And down! And again, and again! There are only three climbs, two cat. 3 and a cat. 2 at the end. That is the one that will get the blood flowing: short and anything but sweet, with double-digit gradients along the way.
Technically it is not a mountaintop finish, with the finish line being 2.5 km downhill from the top. But we think this is a great chance for Dan and Alessandro to test their legs and show what we can expect from them later on.
STAGE 5: Modena – Cattolica, 175 km
Enough of the climbing, let’s have another flat stage and give the sprinters another chance. Although the stage does feature a whopping 200 meters of altitude change….
Easy-peasy for our sprinter! And for our all-rounders, if one of them gets in a break group, they may very well make it to the finish line up front.
STAGE 6: Grotte di Frasassi – Ascopliceno (San Giacomo), 160 km
Up and down with virtually no flat today, and our first real mountaintop finish. It’s another first, too – first time up this side of the closing mountain!
How about making it the first Giro stage win for Alessandro? Sounds like a good idea to us!
STAGE 7: Notaresco – Termoli, 181 km
Flatter than not, with several rolling sections, including a cat. 4 climb at about the one-third point. Except for that bumpy bit, the course pretty much follows the Adriatic coastline, so we may well see wind come into play. And maybe echelons?
This one is a toss-up: Davide taking the sprint, or Krists in the successful break? We’ll take either one!
STAGE 8: Foggia – Guardia Sanframondi, 170 km
Time to climb again! Virtually no flat, lots of ups and downs and only two climbs. The cat. 2 Bocca della Selva strikes about three-quarters of the way in, and we finish atop the Guardia Sanframondi. Only a cat. 4 but more than just a big bump in the road, as it features “harsh” gradients.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and predict a break group, caught near the end, and then a select group to go charging up that final climb! Hmm, which of our ISN guys are we picking for this one…
STAGE 9: Castel di Sangro – Campo Felice (Rocca de Cambio) 160 km
Another saw-blade sort of day, with four ranked climbs. As of kilometer 118, the road goes up and barely comes down again, with first a cat. 2 and then the final climb to the top of our first cat.1, Campo Felice.
That’s not enough fun? Ok, then let’s make the last 1,800 meters a gravel road up to the finish line! Who is our gravel/climbing expert?
STAGE 10: L’Aquila – Foligno, 139 km
The shortest road stage and more or less flat. We would describe it as a lot of bumps along the way, with a cat. 4 at 100 km, and from there basically a long gentle descent into the finish.
Our Italian sprinter will be ready to show he still has good legs after the first week of climbing!
REST DAY 1
A short training ride, some press work, a few cups of coffee, lots of massages and rest rest rest!
STAGE 11: Perugia – Montalcino, 162 km
This stage starts out flat, turns bumpy in the middle, and then is outright nasty in the end. Why? Because it features 35 km of four dirt road sectors, and even the race organizers admit that the first one is “painful”, (while the others are simply “mild”).
Now let’s run off to check our roster and see who has gravel/dirt/whatever experience…
STAGE 12: Siena – Bagno di Romagna, 212 km
Only a middle mountain stage today, with two each cat. 3 and cat. 4 climbs, and surprisingly, we actually see a few small sections of flat along the way. Admittedly, not a lot, but some.
“Bagno di Romagna” means baths of Rome, referring to the many natural hot springs and thermal baths in the area. The guys may be ready to jump into one for a little self-care!
STAGE 13: Ravenna – Verona, 198 km
FLAT! We repeat, FLAT. Not much to say about this stage other than FLAT. The breakaway specialists will love it, but you know the sprinters’ teams will want to fight it out at the end.
Ravenna, by the way, is where Dante Alighieri was born and died, and Verona is where he was exiled for many years. His masterpiece was “The Divine Comedy”, in which he describes the afterlife of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. No doubt many in the peloton feel that way about this race.
STAGE 14: Cittadella – Monte Zoncolan, 204 km
Is today’s stage Hell or Purgatory? No matter what your religious beliefs, this is going to be a tough day. It starts out innocently enough, rolling along nicely until 134 km in. Then it is up a cat. 2 climb, down a long and bumpy descent, and then WHAM! here comes Monte Zoncolan!
They are going up from Sutrio, which makes it the “gentle” ascent, and we think that description shows a good sense of humor. Or irony. At 13.5km long, with a maximum gradient of up to 27% in the final kilometers – no, that’s not our definition of gentle.
STAGE 15: Grado – Gorizia, 146 km.
Today we get to dip our toes into Slovenia several times. Things start out with three laps of a circuit course, with a cat. 4 climb, before making a quick round across the border. And then returning to Italy for the final. Don’t forget to take your passports, guys!
This one is obviously earmarked for either Davide or Alessandro, as this is their home region!
STAGE 16: Sacile – Cortina d’Ampezzo, 212 km.
Our word for the day is “ouch”. Ouch, as in three cat. 1 climbs along the way. Surprisingly, no mountaintop finish but the line comes shortly after a long descent, which always makes us nervous.
5,700 meters of vertical altitude today, and the self-described “most difficult stage of the Giro”. We will be enthusiastically supporting Dan and Alessandro!
REST DAY 2
And a very well-deserved one. Because, of course, there are a lot more mountains coming up in the next few days. On days like this we are especially thankful for the excellent work of our osteopaths and masseurs.
STAGE 17: Canazei – Sega di Ala, 193 km
Oh surprise, more mountains today, and an interesting course. Most of the first 91 km are downhill, then we have nearly 50 km flat. But then the fun starts!
16 km up to the top of the Passo San Valentino, down again and a bit more flat. The final climb, the Sega di Ala, is a new one and has in fact only ever been in a pro race once before. Always fun to explore new roads and climbs, right?? Especially when there are several kms of 13% gradient! Dan has got this one, right?
STAGE 18: Roveretto – Stradella, 231 km
The last chance for the sprinters! If any of them are still around, that is. And also, the longest one of this year’s Giro. It’s a relatively flat run-in until a few bumps show up in the last 40 km.
As usual in this kind of stage, we are looking for a break group hoping to make it to the end, going up against sprinters looking to take advantage of their final opportunity. Shall we pick Guy for this break group?
STAGE 19: Abbiategrasso – Alpe de Miera (Valsesia) 176 km
Three climbs, all in the last half of the day. The final one is the one to look out for, and it is making its debut as a mountaintop finish. The first 5 km are bad enough with an average gradient of 8.3% – but the final 2.4 km are 11.5%. Yikes!
We are, of course, looking to our veteran mountain goats Dan and Alessandro to fly up these climbs!
STAGE 20: Verbania – Valle Spluga – Alpe Motta, 164 km
The good news is that today is the last mountain stage. The bad news is that this short stage crams three cat. 1 climbs into the last half of the stage, including of course a mountaintop finish.
Along the way is a dash into Switzerland, where the grupetto will have lots of time to enjoy the scenery on the 31 km climb up the San Bernardino Pass. A short descent to the next climb, then a steep climb up The Last Mountain Of This Giro!!!!
Looking to our mountain goats again, and sending best wishes to the grupetto, that they all finish within the time limit!
STAGE 21: Senago – Milano, ITT, 29.4 km
Surprise! No climbs! In fact, this is just a nice gentle spin to see the historic sights of Milan. Well, maybe not. It’s an urban time trial, with a technical first half and then pretty much a straight run through Milan.
Alex and Matthias will, of course, not only have successfully survived the climbing horrors but will have also been able to save something for this, their specialty. But we might just tip Paddy for the win…