2100 MILES OF GRAVEL, VINEYARDS AND ZONCOLAN 2021 GIRO D’ITALIA ROUTE
This year’s Giro d’Italia begins in Turin on May 8 and will take in some signature highlights including Monte Zoncolan in the Alps, the Dolomites and the inceasingly popular ‘Strade Bianche’, organisers revealed on Wednesday. The 104th edition honors the 160th anniversary of Italy’s unification, and ends in Milan on May 30, returning to its traditional time-slot after the 2020 edition took place in October.
“On the 160th anniversary of the unification of Italy, we could only choose Piedmont and Turin, the first Italian capital, for the Grande Partenza of the Giro’s 104th edition,” said Paolo Bellino, CEO of RCS Sport, who organize the three-week race.
The Giro has six mountain finishes and seven other hilly stages plus some gravel. Bernal, Bardet and Landa had already earmarked the Giro in favor of the 2021 Tour de France, which is heavy on time-trials. Conversely, 2020 Giro champion Tao Geoghegan Hart will miss this year’s race and make his Tour debut.
The opening 5.5-mile time-trial gets underway at Turin’s Piazza Castello and follows the Po River, with a finish at the foot of the Superga hill.
Stage two, which will suit the sprinters, covers 107 miles from Stupinigi to Novara, followed by an undulating 116 miles from Biella to Canale, before riders reach the slopes of the Apennine Mountains.
Piedmont will still be involved in the final week, with the 19th stage finishing on the summit of Alpe di Mera, in Valsesia.
The first week of the 2143-mile, 21-day Giro is devoted to the sprint south to the Puglia coast on the heel of Italy but loops back towards the heart of Umbria without hitting the deep south that hosted a series of stages last year. After the first rest comes a big test with 22-miles of Tuscan ‘Strade Bianche’ — unpaved gravel roads — during the last 43 miles to Montalcino, one of the great wine sites of the peninsula.
The riders will need to take on Zoncolan, one of the hardest climbs in Europe, at the end of the second week, two days before the queen stage of the Dolomites, scheduled for May 24.
A trio of great historic passes — Fedaia, Pordoi, Giau — will begin that stage leading to Cortina d’Ampezzo, one of the host resorts for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
The third week takes the riders back to the north of the country and includes a testing sidestep into Switzerland to climb the Passo di San Bernardino and the Splugenpass.
Last year’s race which was pushed back to October because of the coronavirus pandemic and raced amid strict rules. There were “race bubbles,” pre-race and rest-day Covid-19 screenings, social distancing and limited crowds. The vast majority of Italian regions are now classified as “yellow”, or moderate risk, with the exception of a few which are classified as “orange”, or medium risk. No region is now classified as “red”, the highest level of risk.
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini