2014 Giro D'Italia: Stage-by-stage Analysis

DISCLAIMER!
Today I had 10 hours of train. I might have messed up potentially everything of this preview, so please, PLEASE, if you spot a mistake, tell me. Via PM or posting here, doesn't matter.

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It's finally time for my beloved route analysis of the hardest GT of the calendar!

The route this year features a lot more sprints, sadly, and a lot less medium mountain stages. It also features the usual cr*pload of mountains. Sadly again, all MTFs.

This year it's 10 years from Pantani's death, and the organizers have put up a few tributes to Il Pirata (at least they say they did). I'll mention it during the analysis of the individual stages, as a further tribute by myself. There's to say that if they really wanted to have a proper tribute, there were better ways to do it. For instance, I thought a Aprica stage was obvious...

Other than that, enjoy my preview and let's hope all of the stages can be actually raced ;)

Stage 1: Belfast - Belfast 21.7 km TTT





Technical overview:
Kind of unusual for the Giro to have a TTT abroad, but that's what we get this year. The lenght is quite standard nowadays (sadly), and looks like there's only one point of interest, a very short climb at the first intermediate. As for the rest, long straights and not much else.

What to expect:
TTT for specialists, so the usual suspects will fight for the win, hard to have surprises here. Not more than 1' 30'' between the first and the last imo (unless a team messes up badly).
 
Stage 2: Belfast - Belfast 219 km





Technical overview:
First road stage of the Giro, almost entirely flat, besides two totally negligible cat.4 climbs. The interesting part of the stage is the second half, which runs along the coast all the way to Belfast, so the wind may be a factor.

What to expect:
A bunch sprint, the size of which will be determined by the wind.

Stage 3: Armagh - Dublin 187 km





Technical overview:
Very similar to stage 2. It should be easier since it's shorter and there aren't many coastal kms. The wind could still play a role, but it's less likely than the day before.

What to expect:
A bigger bunch sprint.
 
Stage 4: Giovinazzo - Bari 112 km





Technical overview:
After a rest day moving everyone and everything from Ireland to Italy, we get another rest day disguised as a road stage. Very short and with a city circuit in the end.

What to expect:
Yep, you guessed it. The mother of all bunch sprints! :eek: Being a city circuit may be a bit tricky with possible crashes.
 
Stage 5: Taranto - Viggiano 203 km





Final kms



Technical overview:
We had to suffer a bit but we finally made it to the first interesting stage profile! This one looks good: 203 km with the first GPM 3, the Valico di Serra di S.Chirico, which frankly is not a big deal, and one GPM 4 climb to be repeated twice back to back, as uphill finish. The climb to Viggiano is quite interesting, despite being classified as a road bump by RCS: it measures around 5 km at 6% average, but the finishing line won't be at the top, but 50m lower, which makes it about 500m shorter. In any case, a good first test for the GC riders.

What to expect:
This is quite open. Breakaway or GC guys for the bonus seconds. Don't expect fireworks all the way through the two final climbs, but it should be entertaining, with maybe an attack by second tiers.
 
Stage 6: Sassano - Montecassino 247 km





Technical overview:
Another uphill finish, this time it's a pure Unipublic stage, if not for its huge lenght: 247 km. The climb to Montecassino is 8.5 km at 5%, and it's extremely regular so there aren't hard spots.

What to expect:
This is the classic Montevergine finish, only on a shorter climb. 50 men sprint.
 
Stage 7: Frosinone - Foligno 211 km





Technical overview:
Interesting stage, the first one sprinters will really have to fight for. Quite long (211 km) and with a testing first part, featuring the Valico di Aricnazzo and a few other minor climbs. The second part instead starts with a very tricky set of climbs, ending with the GPM 4 Valico della Somma at 40 km to go, all of them are descending false flat.

What to expect:
This is very good for an early breakaway, but it depends on the sprinters' shape and will. The last climb isn't hard enough to favour an attack, but the weaker sprinters may get into trouble there, if the peloton goes fast to chase the breakaway.
 
Stage 8: Foligno - Montecopiolo 179 km









Technical overview:
Here's the best profile of this year's Giro: the first mountain stage, with the first GPM 1 climbs. Starting from Foligno, the riders will cruise for 126 km along gently hilly valleys in order to reach Belforte all'Isauro, where the road begins to rise with a gradient between 5% and 7% for about 7 km. After that, a couple of km of false flats will bring the peloton to Carpegna, where the Giro starts its homage to Pantani, 10 years after his death. On the menu there is the mythical Cippo di Carpegna, Pantani's favourite training ride. This climb, which is the first GPM 1 of the whole race, is 6 km long at a 10% average gradient. After this, a tricky descent will bring the riders to the GPM 2 climb of Villaggio del Lago (9.3 km at 6.2%), where a short descent will let them start the final climb of the day, the very irregular GPM 1 to Eremo Madonna del Faggio, with 6.5 km at 6.3%, featuring a 13% final ramp.

What to expect:
Not sure about this one. It has huge potential, but being the first mountain stage could prevent the GC riders from giving everything. Surely it's a stage not to miss: in the last 40 km any spot is good for an attack.

Pantani Tribute:
As already mentioned, the Cippo di Carpegna was Pantani's favourite training climb. When asked about climbs recognition for GTs, he used to say "Il Carpegna mi basta" ("the Carpegna is enough to me"), meaning that he didn't need to check in person the Mortirolo, Galibier, Alpe D'Huez or whatever, he just needed to train on his home mountain. In fact, Pantani knew very little of the GT climbs before actually racing them, as confirmed by many of his former teammates. Famous is the anecdote about the Giro '98 when during the Selva di Valgardena stage Pantani, planning to attack on the Marmolada, dropped a little back to the mid of the peloton to ask to one of his teammates (don't remember who) when was the Marmolada starting. His teammate looked at him in disbelief and replied "We're halfway already...". Pantani, in a bit of a hurry for the unexpected revelation, attacked and won the Giro there.
PS: "Il Carpegna mi basta" is also the name of the Granfondo MTB dedicated to Pantani, held on the Carpegna itself.
 
Stage 9: Lugo - Sestola 172 km







Technical overview:
Second MTF in a row, this time with no major difficulties before it. The GPM 3 of Sant'Antonio and the GPM 4 of Rocchetta Sandri are just a warm up before the main dish of the day, the climb to Sestola (Passo del Lupo), with 16.5 km at 5.5%, featuring a quite demanding central section with 3.5 km at almost 9% average, after which we get a pretty easy final 4 km.

What to expect:
Not too much I think. If a GC rider wants to attack, he has to do it on the steep section and try to hold for the final 4-5 kms. I don't think anyone will actually try, unless the GC has already been shaken up by something/someone. In the case nobody attacks, I'll go for a selected 10 riders group sprinting for bonus seconds.
 
Stage 10: Modena - Salsomaggiore Terme 173 km





Final kms



Technical overview:
Typical Giro flat stage, with its trademark bump in the end. As you can see from the detail, there should be something like 400m at 10% in there, unless the software is entirely wrong (and mind you, it could actually be the case). After the descent, there will be only 4 kms of slightly ascending false flat.

What to expect:
It's not so easy for the sprinters... overall I still think they'll have the upper hand but there is the chance for somebody to attack.
 
Stage 11: Collecchio - Savona 249 km





Final kms



Technical overview:
The longest stage of the Giro, with its 249 km, and a very interesting one as well. Starting from Collecchio, the peloton will climb Passo Cento Croci in order to get to the Ligurian coast, then it will pay an homage to me by passing through Genova, where most likely it will freeze the traffic of the few most important roads of the city, provoking many colorful expressions among the notoriously cheerful residents. After this necessary checkpoint, the peloton will head towards Savona, but just before downtown the riders will turn to the north, in order to climb the difficulty of the day: the climb to Naso Di Gatto, with 6.5 km at 9%, is really a good spot for attacks, even by GC riders. The drawback is that its descent is technical only in the first half, while the second half is very fast though wide roads. After the descent back in Savona, only 4 km of wide and straight roads.

What to expect:
Tomorrow there's the ITT so that's a bit of a problem. I think the breakaway will take it, and depending on the GC situation we could see some attacks.
 
Stage 12: Barbaresco - Barolo 41.9 km ITT





Technical overview:
Medium lenght, fairly hilly ITT that can be divided into three sectors: the first one features a long, gentle climb which becomes kinda serious only in the final 3 kilometers, where it gets to a constant 5%. After a first technical descent the second sector starts, from Ricca to Loc.Uccellaccio, where there are 14 km of flat, straight roads. The third part is again quite hilly, with 4 km at something like 5%, a fast descent and the final uphill drag towards the line.

What to expect:
Not a ITT for specialists, that's for sure (there won't be many anyway). That said, it's not a ITT for climbers neither, so I still expect a specialist to win it. Gaps shouldn't really be high at all. Not more than a minute between the main GC guys, probably even less.
 
Stage 13: Fossano - Rivarolo Canavese 157 km





Technical overview:
Transitional stage, flat and short. The only GPM, Salita di Rivara, looks steep on the profile but it actually is 1 km at 6% or so.

What to expect:
Bunch sprint at 100%.
 
Stage 14: Agliè - Oropa 164 km









Technical overview:
Hard but short multi-mountain stage, with 4 categorized climbs: after the first GPM 3 La Serra, the riders will tackle the GPM 1 Alpe Noveis, a short and steep climb with a central section of 4.5 km at over 11%. After its descent, there will be no flat but another climb: the GPM 2 Valico di Bielmonte, more than 18 km long with a solid central section and very irregular slopes. The descent of this pass is quite tricky in the first half, but afterwards it becomes just a long easy ride down the valley to Biella, where the last climb starts. The climb to Santuario di Oropa is a GPM 1 only because it's a MTF, but it's not so hard as a standalone climb; only the last 6-7 km are demanding, with slopes between 7% and 10%.

What to expect:
This is a very good stage for tactical moves. Alpe Noveis and Bielmonte are great for isolating your opponent, but the descending false flat before the last climb prevents solo actions from there. Otoh, a team effort would be a whole different thing. Without that, all this will come down to the last 3 km.

Pantani Tribute:
Giro 1999 stage 15. For those of you who don't know what I mean, here's a video. Watch it. Seriously.
 
Stage 15: Valdengo - Plan Di Montecampione 225 km







Technical overview:
Long, MTF-only stage, but it's quite a MTF! Plan di Montecampione is over 19 km long and has an average gradient of 7.6%, including 3 km of false flat two thirds up the climb, which lower the average gradient significantly. Strangely enough they won't finish at the top but 1 km short, for no official reasons (unless I missed something).

What to expect:
GC action after the false flat part of the climb, surely. If these were the 90s it would be different, but that's what we get today.

Pantani Tribute:
Giro 1998 stage 19
Granted, we won't see anything like that this year.
 
Stage 16: Ponte Di Legno - Val Martello/Martelltal 139 km









Technical overview:
Yep, let's try again and pray for warm weather. I'll quote myself from the 2013 stage analysis:

Eshnar said:
Technical overview:
Silly stage at high altitude, awfully short, with 3 HCs. The peloton will start immediatly the awesome and never used combo from the Gavia(16.5 kms at 8%) to the Stelvio (easy side again, 21.7 kms at 7.2%), featuring two most difficult descents which could be more decisive than the climbs. What ruins everything is the 20 kms of flat in the valley before the never used climb of Val Martello, which despite being an HC on its own pales in comparison to its neighbours.
What to expect:
Everything can happen here, including nothing at all. The most likely outcome is GC guys staring at each other until the last 7 km of Val Martello.
 
Stage 17: Sarnonico - Vittorio Veneto 208 km







Technical overview:
Penultimate chance for the sprinters, the best flat stage of the race. 208 kms with a complicated route, with many little climbs and walls, the most important of which, the Muro di Ca' del Poggio, a bit more than 1 km at a bit more than 12%, is situated at 20 kms to the finishing line, 20 kms that aren't entirely flat. Here sprinters will have to sweat a lot.

What to expect:
It depends too much from the GC situation, the number of sprinters and the number of attackers still in the race, the weather, etc. No clue about this one, really, but it should be fun. More than a regular flat stage, at least.
 
Stage 18: Belluno - Rifugio Panarotta (Valsugana) 171 km





NOTE: The altimetry of Panarotta is not on the official website atm. Once it will be up, I'll put it here.

Technical overview:
The final three GC days start with the easier of them. A shortish stage with three major climbs, quite far from each other: the famous San Pellegrino, the irregularly steep Passo del Redebus and the final ascent to Rifugio Panarotta, which is simply a continuation of the well known climb to Vetriolo Terme, just 4.6 km more. It is a very regular climb, with a total of 16.3 km at 7.8%.

What to expect:
Attacks at 3-4 km to go, maybe even shorter because of what's still to come. Likely to have a strong breakaway on the San Pellegrino.
 
Stage 19: Bassano Del Grappa - Cima Grappa 26.8 km MTT





The WWI monument at the top



Technical overview:
Here it is, the key stage of the Giro. For the first time in the last 10 years at least, the most important stage is a MTT. The craziest MTT in the last 20 years period, the last one comparable in difficulty would be Sestriere 1993, even though it was an entirely different climb. The most similar to this one, anyway, is surely Mont Ventoux 1987. 27 km from Bassano to the top of the colossal Monte Grappa, 19 km at 8% average, with 8 km of a flat run-in. The Grappa can be divided in two parts, divided by an intermediate checkpoint: the first one features very constant gradients, and it's almost 12 km long at 7.4% average; the last part has irregular, steep slopes, 7.5 km at 8.9%.

What to expect:
Gaps. Big gaps. It will be very important to manage the effort correctly in the flat first part. A MTT really hard not only to ride, but also to plan. Who wins this wins the Giro, I have little doubts.
 
Stage 20: Maniago - Monte Zoncolan 167 km







Technical overview:
Final showdown for the GC, provided it is still open after the MTT. This stage is very similar to the Oropa stage, besides the fact that the final climb is *slightly* different. In fact, this difference makes the good climbs before it, Passo Pura and Sella di Razzo, totally irrelevant. Everything will be won or lost on the Zoncolan. I'll be very surprised if anything serious happens before Ovaro. Ok, it's the last chance for the climbers, but still...

What to expect:
Everybody together until Liariis, everybody on their own after it.

Pantani Tribute:
Not really... in 2003 Monte Zoncolan was climbed for the first time, and it witnessed one of the last attack of the Pirata... but it was the other side of the climb. Anyway, if you want to see Simoni smashing the opposition, here it is.
 
Stage 21: Gemona Del Friuli - Trieste 172 km





Technical overview:
Final parade for sprinters. The little bump that can be seen on the profile is exactly a little bump. Not more than 400m at 6-7% or so.

What to expect:
A parade. And a sprint.
 
Thanks for the thread, very helpful.

Wow, that is a seriously back-ended Grand Tour. Not much mountain GC action until stage 14, then each stage it gets harder and harder with a brief respite on 17. The Giro winner will be very deserving after conquering all that.

The 7.5km flat before Mt Grappa MTT climb will make for interesting bike choices. I guess they will use normal bikes with Aero bar extensions.

At Trentino they got a very small taste of a 12% gradient on stage 3, but 10km of Zoncolan 3 weeks into a GT is a totally different ballgame!
 
Jan 12, 2014
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Kudos to Eshnar for the thread. He's looking forward to the race, that's certain.
And reading the analysis made me looking forward to it, too. Some nice profiles.
Some very long straights, supposedly on open and exposed roads, in the first stages in Italy. Maybe the wind could brake the snooze.
 

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