2021 Giro d'Italia is packed with High Mountains, Brutal Climbs and Gravel roads too
Six mountain finishes, seven hilly stages, over 47,000 meters of climbing, the 104th edition favours the best GC contenders and will test the mettle of every Sprinter to make it to Milan!
The 104th editon of the Giro d'Italia was revealed today. The race starts and finishes with 9km time trial around Turin and 29.4 km time trial around Milan. The race starts in the Piedmont region to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
The 104th edition also celebrates the 90th anniversary of the race leader’s pink jersey, with a special logo on this year’s maglia rosa.
There are just 6 flat stages for the sprinters and it will be a battle for them to arrive in Milan with a race packed with huge mountains stages in the third week.
The Monte Zoncolan, one of the hardest climbs in professional cycling is back again to delight the Tifosi with its double-digit gradients in the final three kilometres.
The Queen stage 16 climbs the 2,000m + climbs of the Passo Fedaia, Passo Pordoi and the Passo Giau in the Dolomites before the plunging to the finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo. This brutal stage is 212km long with a massive 5,700m of climbing. The 2,239m Passo Pordoi will award the Cima Coppi prize as the race's highest point.
Stage 1 is an ITT on urban roads, with picturesque stretches along the Po River, in the Parco del Valentino and at the finish by the Gran Madre church.
Stage 2 is a flat sprinters’ stage passes by many of the sites related to the 160th anniversary of the Italian unification, including Santena, where Cavour is buried.
Stage 3 is the first undulating stage open to attacks in the finale. The route features ,mild climbs and steep gradients. Specifically, the short and punchy ascent in Guarene is likely to serve as a ‘launchpad’ for the stage winner.
Stage 4 heads south through the Apennines with some punchy climbs by the Castelli Matildici, before tackling a short – yet punishing – ascent up Colle Passerino, leading all the way to Sestola. Rising at double-digit gradients, this climb is bound to be decisive for the stage win.
The Giro heads south from Piedmont to the Adriatic coast. Stage 5 is a pan-flat stage through the plains of Emilia-Romagna, leading to a compact bunch sprint in the famous seaside town.
Stage 6 is the first mountain finish, a mountain stage through the Sibylline Mountains and the areas affected by the recent earthquakes. The route culminates in a first-ever climb up the San Giacomo. There are 3400m of climbing including the 17km climb to the finish above Ascoli Piceno, which will also expose any early-race weaknesses and lack of form.
Stage 7 continues south along the Adriatic coast with a sprinters’ stage with a few mild climbs a little further inland, which are very unlikely to affect the outcome. A few spikes along the last kilometre may cause the peloton to string out before the closing sprint.
Stage 8 swings west in medium mountain stage with climbs from the start up to Campobasso. The route then tackles the Matese ridge, negotiating a long categorised climb up to Bocca della Selva. A long descent into the Piana Telesina will then lead to the final kilometres of the stage, featuring harsh gradients.
Stage 9 heads north with a short yet intense stage through the Apennines of Abruzzo. The route takes in four consecutive ascents with moderate gradients, before negotiating the closing ascent to the ski area of Campo Felice. Over the last 1,800 metres, the climb travels a stretch of dirt road along the ski slopes.
The Second Week
Stage 10 is a short stage expected to finish in a bunch sprint, after the previous challenging stages, and before the first rest day. A sprint finish that has featured in Foligno in both the Giro and the Tirreno-Adriatico previously.
After the first rest day, the 2021 Giro enters the second week heading north with short but challenging stage. Over the last 70 km, the route features 4 sectors of dirt roads, totalling 35 km. The first one (Castiglione del Bosco) is actually a painful climb, the other ones rise just mildly, but their features and the road surface will make the Montalcino stage as challenging as tackling the Alps.
Stage 12 kickstarts the second week continue to head north towards the Dolomites.
Stage 13 is a flat stage dedicated to Dante Alighieri. Starting in Ravenna (near Dante’s burial site), the route cuts across the plain all the way to Verona (where the poet was exiled). Passing through Bagnolo Po, the stage also recalls Learco Guerra, the first rider to ever sport the Maglia Rosa 90 years ago.
Stage 14 is the first high mountain stage of the second race weekend. There is just one climb along the route, up to Monte Rest, but the stage finale is an absolute brute of a road. The riders will be faced with the fearsome Zoncolan, coming from Sutrio (2003 – Simoni). The gradients over the last 2 km max out at 25/27% in the final stretch just before homing in. This stage is surely bound to disrupt the GC.
Stage 15 sees respite from the fearsome climbing, a stage across the hills of the Collio district, between Friuli and Slovenia. After two laps of a circuit dotted with short but sharp kicks, the route crosses the national borders and reaches Nova Gorica, then comes back to Italy negotiating a brief, sharp spike 3 km before the finish.
Stage 16 is the gigantic Queen stage into the Dolomites. 212 kms long and with a 5,700 m vertical altitude gain, this will be the most difficult stage of the Giro.
Shortly after the start, the route climbs up to the Cansiglio (via the Passo della Crosetta, coming from Vittorio Veneto) and then descends into Belluno. Past Agordo, the riders will negotiate the Passo Fedaia (Marmolada, where Pantani conquered the Maglia Rosa in 1998 – Montagna Pantani), the Passo Pordoi (Cima Coppi) and the Passo Giau one right after another, followed by a long, technical descent to Cortina d’Ampezzo (host city for the 2026 Winter Olympics).
Stage 17 is the last mountain stage in the North-East before the second (and last) rest day. The stage has an extremely challenging finale. The lengthy descent from Canazei to Mori is followed by two long and tough climbs up to Passo San Valentino and Sega di Ala over the last 50 km. The gruelling finale is well suited to a surge from a middle distance, for anybody needing to close a gap in the GC after the stage homing in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
The Third and Final Week towards Milan
Stage 18 will suit the sprinters still in the race, with a last potential bunch sprint. All the teams must work hard while passing through the Po Plain to lead their captains to the final kilometre. Some short, steep ramps in the closing part may trim down the peloton before the sprint.
Stage 19 sees the GC race really heat up with q mountain stage with some respite in-between climbs.
After a traditional approach through the plains of Piedmont, the route negotiates the Mottarone (after many years), runs along Lake Maggiore, passes through Omegna and then tackles the Passo della Colma, reaching Varallo. A long ascent on deceptively flat roads leads to the sharp closing climb.
What it lacks in distance, it makes up for in gradient, with sharp pitches especially in the final part.
Stage 20 is the last gigantic Alpine stage. After the start, the route crosses the Swiss border to negotiate the never-ending San Bernardino Pass, and then comes back to Italy via the short (but sharp) Splügen Pass. The closing climb travels the ‘old road’ to Madesimo, with punishing gradients that grow even sharper in the final part, before homing in a few kilometres after the ‘conventional’ finish line.
Stage 21 enters Milan, the 29.4 km time trial can be divided in two distinct parts. The route is quite intricate at first, with some straight stretches and several bends and roundabouts leading through Sesto San Giovanni into Milan. Here the route straightens, all the way to the ‘traditional’ finish near the majestic Duomo to crown the winner of the 2021 Giro d'Italia.
For cycling fans Italy has just entered another lockdown and the chance of watching the race in-person this year is very low unfortunately. The Italian government is looking to open up the whole country before peak summer months of July and August.
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