The 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia promises to be another mountainous affair as riders will need to climb the Stelvio pass twice during a gruelling 16th stage in the third week.
The 227km stage, also featuring the ascent of the feared Mortirolo pass, will be held a day after the third rest day and two days before another 'tappone' (demanding stage) with five climbs scheduled for the 18th leg, according to the course unveiled by organisers on Tuesday.
"It's a very hard Giro with two very important time trial stages," said two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali. "In this respect it's very balanced and similar to the ones I've won in the past. This Giro will require a lot of energy and you'll need to be ready from the start."
Climbing will start earlier, though, with the first mountaintop finish planned for the fourth stage which will end on the slopes of Mount Etna.
The 2017 race, which will start from Sardinia for the first time, will also pay tribute to former champions.
Stages will start or finish in the birth places of 1958 winner Ercole Baldini and five-times champion Fausto Coppi.
The three-week race will be decided with a 28km final time trial from the Monza Formula One circuit to the Milan cathedral.
"The Big Start from Sardinia is really emotional for me, I still remember the last time when Giro started from the island, I was a kid and had just started racing MTB – I stopped alongside the road to watch the stage. It's a truly beautiful edition of the Giro that will be uncertain until the end, the fans will see a great show." - Fabio Aru.
The Giro d'Italia detail
The first spectacular individual time trial (39.2km), among the vineyards of Sagrantino between Foligno and Montefalco, will be held on Tuesday 16. Wednesday 17 May’s very tricky stage through the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines is in memory of the cycling icon, Gino Bartali. The stage will proceed to Florence, with km0 in Ponte a Ema, where the great champion was born – just in front of the museum dedicated to him – and continues towards Bagno di Romagna.
Saluting former champions
The next day’s Forlì-Reggio Emilia stage brings two events to mind: the start city, Forlì, is where Ercole Baldini (winner of the 1958 Giro) was born; while the city where the stage ends, Reggio Emilia, is the birthplace of the first Italian tricolour flag, 220 years ago – on 7 January 1797.
On Friday 19 the race resumes from Reggio Emilia to head in Piedmont with an arrival and a departure dedicated to the “Campionissimo”, Fausto Coppi, five times winner of the Giro d’Italia. The finish line of the 13th stage is in Tortona where Coppi died on 2 January 1960. Then stage 14 starts in Castellania, birthplace of “the Heron”. This stage, from Castellania to Santuario di Oropa, could be called the “Coppi-Pantani stage”, in memory of two champions who have written indelible pages in the history of cycling and of the Giro, and who are also united by a tragic ending.
The 15th stage, from Valdengo to Bergamo, has a finish very similar to that of Il Lombardia 2016 (Miragolo San Salvatore, Selvino and final climb in Bergamo Alta) won by Esteban Chaves. Then follows the final rest day, in the “Città dei Mille” (City of the Thousand), so named by General Giuseppe Garibaldi, given the high number of garibaldini soldiers from Bergamo. Felice Gimondi, winner of three Giro d’Italia, was born in the Orobic city. He was the protagonist of many epic battles with Eddy Merckx on the Giro’s roads, in the 60s and 70s.
Into the mountains
The last week of the Giro starts with a very challenging stage that features not only the Mortirolo (1,852m), and the Stelvio Pass to be climbed from the classic side (Cima Coppi of the Giro 2017, with its 2,758m of vertical elevation) but also the Umbrail Pass (2,502m) - the Swiss side of the Stelvio - before the final descent towards Bormio. It will be a crucial stage, and the appetizer for the 100th Giro’s mountainous finale.
The Tirano-Canazei stage, on Wednesday 24 May, with Aprica, Tonale and Giovo before the finish line, may present a good opportunity for a long distance attack. On 25 May, the Queen Stage, the “Tappone Dolomitico” from Moena to Ortisei, with four mountain passes (Pordoi, Valparola, Gardena and Pinei) looks set to be crucial in deciding the GC.
San Candido-Piancavallo, on 26 May, includes the race’s fourth summit finish: it features the challenging climbs of the Monte Croce Comelico and Passo di Selva Chianzutan, before a summit finish in Piancavallo. The Pordenone – Altopiano di Asiago stage begins flat, but has an uphill finish. The Monte Grappa (which, after many years, will be climbed from the north side) will lead to the finish in Asiago, coming from an unusual side of the Altopiano, from Valstagna.
A 'race of truth' to finish
Then the final, 28km, individual time trial course starts at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza and finishes in front of the Milan Cathedral, the Duomo. Ending with ‘the race of truth’ could reshuffle the cards and it will certainly crown the winner of this historic edition in style.