7 October 2013

Giro d'Italia 2014 - Il Percorso

So today was the most excited I have ever been about the announcement of the route of 2014 Giro d'Italia. The fast that the 97th edition of the race will start here:

Titanic Quarter, Belfast
But also as well as spending three days in Ireland, which necessitate a start on Friday 9th May so that an extra 'rest'/transfer day to get the race back to Italy, there are some very interesting stages.

There is the Passo de Lupo, which only counts as a 10.6km climb despite having had to climb to the start of it on stage 9 to be a tough finish before the second rest day on the 18th May. But the race will only get harder from there on.

There are the 18.3km climb of Bielmonte, 11.8km of Oporo both on stage 14 which could well start to open up the race. The 18.6km climb to Plan di Montecampione on stage 15 just before the third and final rest day.

But after that rest day there will be 60km of climbing on stage 16 taking the Giro over the highest mountain pass in the Eastern Alp the Stelvio, but it is only the middle of the stage with Val Martello Martelltal still to come to complete the stage. Stage 18 will feature  Passo di San Pellegrino (11.8 km) and finish on Panarotta (15.8 km). The next stage is a mountain time trial it is only 26.8km long but the last 19.3 of those are the climb of Monte Grappa.

If the Giro is still up for grabs on the last day the race might well be decided on Monte Zoncolan, and the stage called Welcome to Hell.

The tough climb has only appeared four times in the Giro making its debut in 2003 and appearing again in 2007 and being a summit finish in 2010 and again in 2011 (despite protests about a last minute route change). It has a long way to measure up to the history of the Stelvio (which appears in the middle of stage 17) but has already got a reputation for hardness that will continue to make it one to watch. It is only 101km long so not the longest, but the average gradient is 11.9% as the riders will climb 1203m. The maximum gradient is 22%.

It will certainly be a climbers Giro with the tough final week in the high mountains, but there is something for the sprinters. Mark Cavendish could well be targeting his first Grand Tour stage win on UK soil for stage 2 in Belfast, but Dublin on stage 3, Bari stage 4, Salsomaggiore Terme stage 10 (although a little lumpy in the run in), Rivarolo Canavese stage 13 and if they survive the mountains there is Vittorio Veneto stage 17 and the ride into the finish at Trieste. Along with the finish toFoligno on stage 7, which has a tough ramp near the end, but might still be available for the tougher sprinters, that gives 7 or 8 opportunities where the sprinters could shine. After his five stages wins from last year it will interesting to see what Mark Cavendish can do this time.

You can see a preview of the full percorso here:

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