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2017 Giro d'Italia: Stage-by-stage Analysis

It's time! It is upon us. The number 100.

The route of this Giro is... weird. It features many more MTFs than last year, and much harder ones, even though luckily it doesn't get to compare with the amount the 2014 edition had. It is a pretty frontloaded Giro, with two hard MTFs (including the hardest) coming within the first 9 stages. The first half of the route is excellent. Shame that the second looks like a mess. The third weekend looks unreasonably easy, and the third week is full of climbing, that is likely the reason why the weekend before was made easy. The resulting look of the whole route is disappointing, although decent from the technical point of view, as it is pretty balanced overall, with enough flat TT kms to compensate the (not crazy hard) climbing.
What is really disappointing is the "100" part. This was supposed to be a special Giro, and here is really difficult to see a proper celebration of that. Perhaps we cycling fans are too romantic for today's organizers.
However fear not, as I will celebrate the history of the Giro by myself, taking inspiration from the stages and telling you a story for some of them (I initially wanted to do it for every stage, but no time and no inspiration...). In most cases the chosen story is totally arbitrary, and I'm sure I've left out people who deserved to be remembered and stuff. Tough.
In any case, the route is ok(ish) and the field will be one of the best in recent times, so no worries.
Just one week to go. And then the show will begin.



STAGE 1: Alghero – Olbia 206 km




Technical Overview:
The 100th Giro starts in Sardinia, where it's been only 4 times in its history, the first time only in 1961, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Italian unity. Three out of the 88 times the Giro started in Italy, it did in Sardinia. the previous two being in 1991 and 2007. For only the third time in the 3rd millennium, the Giro starts with a road stage. From the town of Alghero, on the north-west, the riders will go to Olbia, on the north-east coast, on a stage almost entirely along the coast, the famous Costa Smeralda (“Emerald Coast”). Here, the main difficulties will be wind and twisty roads. There are also three categorized climbs: the first two come fairly early and are very easy. Multeddu (GPM4, 4.6 km at 3.3%) and Trinità d’Agultu (GPM4, 6.1 km at 4.4%) will probably decide the first blue jersey, but the peloton will barely notice them. The last categorized climb instead might have a much bigger effect. S.Pantaleo (GPM4, 3.3 km at 5.6%) is at 21 km to go, which is a lot, but it wouldn't be impossible for a group of attackers to stay clear if they break away there, considering that the peloton should be tired enough by that time, because of the rough terrain they'll be riding on the whole day. Those last 20 kms however are easy, on much simpler roads than the rest of the stage, and the final kms in the town of Olbia don't present particularly dangerous spots.



The Climbs:
Multeddu GPM4
Easy. Very easy. No profile provided.

Trinità d’Agultu GPM4
As above. A bit harder than the first climb, though.

San Pantaleo GPM4
Short and easy overall, but with a solid first km and a steep ramp in the middle. Might give trouble to some riders if the pace is high.

What to expect:
It's very hard to call. Echelons might occur, crashes almost certainly will and the little bump might be enough to break the mass sprint, which in any case is still likely. I'll go for a reduced bunch sprint (~80 units).


Story Time:
It was 1931 when Armando Cougnet, the director of the Giro since the first edition, decided to introduce a jersey for the leader of the GC. He chose pink, as the color of the pages of Gazzetta dello Sport since 1899. The first Maglia Rosa was given to the winner of the first stage of 1931, from Milano to Mantova. The winner was the local hero Learco Guerra, who would not win the Giro that time (that one would be won by Francesco Camusso), but would get a pretty good consolation prize by winning the World Championship that same year. He then managed to win the Giro in 1934.
The pink jersey quickly became a symbol of the Giro, and a cycling icon. The rider who wore it most times is, unsurprisingly, Eddy Merckx (78 times), followed by Francesco Moser (57) and Gino Bartali (50). 
From its inception, only a few stages had no Maglia Rosa at the start. Only one day, however, there were multiple pink jerseys. It was on stage 2 of the Giro 1971, when the whole team Salvarani, winner of the team relay race on stage 1, got to wear the precious jersey.

STAGE 2: Olbia - Tortolì 221 km




Technical Overview:
The first Saturday presents a long and odd medium mountain stage, where the peloton will face tough terrain the whole day. Starting from Olbia, the first 62 km will be ascending false flat, full of ups and downs, with two serious ramps: the first, starting at km 11, features 2.2 km at 6.2%, while the second is the one topping at Sa Serra, after 4 km at 6.5%. The road continues with some rolling terrain until km 90, where a pretty long descent, quite technical but on a nice and wide road, will bring the riders at the foot of the first categorized climb of this stage. The climb to Nuoro (GPM3, 10.5 km at 3.9%) is a bit tougher than indicated by its average gradient, since it flattens out at the top, while the first part is steeper. After 33 km of more rolling terrain, the peloton will reach the second and final climb of the day, Genna Silana (GPM2, 19.6 km at 3.2%). Well, to be honest it is more a false flat rather than a proper climb, let alone a proper GPM2. However, it's long and it does hide some good ramps. The descent is similar to the ascent, and it is demanding only for short sections at the top and at the bottom. The final 9 km are pan flat, the only ones of this stage.



The Climbs:
Nuoro GPM3
It is the first part of the climb shown below, just up to Nuoro, that is.

Genna Silana GPM2
Two 4-5% ramps divided and followed by false flat sections. The official climb starts in Dorgali, but the road goes uphill since way earlier, here is the complete profile, thanks to Cyclingcols.com

What to expect:
Again, very hard to call, but this time I can rule out a full bunch sprint. I do expect a reduced bunch sprint, something similar to stage 3 of the Giro 2015, and we might even be lucky and get something more similar to stage 3 of the Giro 2013. Breakaways have of course more than a chance here, but in recent times they haven't been lucky with this kind of stage at the very beginning of a Giro. GC action is very unlikely.

STAGE 3: Tortolì – Cagliari 148 km




Technical Overview:
The first clear chance for the pure sprinters, a rather short stage with only one very easy GPM4, Capo Boi (GPM4, 2 km at 4.9%), at 40 km to go. Those 40 km are all along the coast, but strong winds there are unlikely, albeit not impossible. There is no city circuit in Cagliari, and the last kms are pretty straightforward.


The Climbs:
Capo Boi GPM4
Short and easy.

What to expect:
This should definitely be a mass sprint. Echelons can happen, but are very unlikely in this area.

STAGE 4: Cefalù – Etna (Rif. Sapienza) 181 km




Technical Overview:
The race moves to the other major Italian island after a rest day, and goes for the hardest early MTF stage of recent times. From Cefalù, on the north coast, the peloton will stroll by the sea for 54 kms, before turning right and climbing a pretty good warm-up climb. Portella Femmina Morta (GPM2, 32.8km at 4.5%) is just a (very) long, regular drag that will bring the riders in the inner part of the island. From there, a fast descent, with a few tricky sections, will lead to a small uncategorized climb with the intermediate sprint of Bronte. After that, the riders will head towards the highest (3300m+ a.s.l.) volcano in Europe, one of the most active in the world. Mount Etna (GPM1, 17.9km at 6.6%) has been climbed three times in the Giro (1967, 1989 and 2011), all of them as MTF to Rifugio Sapienza (~1900m). The road they will climb this time is different than last time though, featuring shorter but steeper and irregular slopes. It is also preceded by a small climb of 6.8km at 5.5% to get to Nicolosi, where the final climb officially starts.


The Climbs:
Portella di Femmina Morta GPM2
Extremely long and regular climb. Great for warming up.

Etna GPM1
Quite an irregular climb, that averages around 7% but hides 9-10% km alternated with short false flats here and there. Not to be underestimated.

What to expect:
This is an extremely serious MTF for just a stage 4. I expect a solo winner and decent gaps.
If the stage can be raced, that is. The volcano might decide to mess with it. Fingers crossed.

STAGE 5: Pedara – Messina 159 km




Technical Overview:
Reasonably short and easy stage, placed after a MTF and before having to cross the strait to get to the mainland, so it's definitely justified. From the town of Pedara, the peloton will race along the base of the volcano, facing some tough terrain, including two climbs, the uncategorized one to Trecastagni (2.7 km at 5.7%) and the one to Andronico S.Alfio (GPM4, 6.2 km at 4.8%). After a tricky descent, the peloton will go through a false flat section of around 13 km, before having to go downhill again, this time on a much easier road. Just after hitting the coast, the intermediate sprint of Taormina (3.1 km at 4.9%) will be the last difficulty of the day. From there on, a bit less than 60 km will lead to the finishing line of Messina, including a 6.3 km circuit to be done only once. The circuit only has a handful of turns, and has a pretty negligible 400m ramp at 5% with 2 km to go, before making a u-turn into a roundabout and going back the same way to the finish, on a 1.5km straight.


The Climbs:
Andronico S.Alfio GPM4
No profile provided. Looks like it is a pretty regular climb.

What to expect:
This stage is pretty favorable for a breakaway, with that rough start. However, the 60 km of flat at the end will help the sprinters' teams, in case anybody is interested in contesting the sprint.

STAGE 6: Reggio Calabria – Terme Luigiane 217 km




Technical Overview:
The race finally reaches mainland, with a long medium mountain stage starting from Reggio Calabria and heading north almost entirely along the coast. The first climb of the day comes after 27 km: Barritteri (GPM3, 11.3 km at 4.2%) starts with solid ramps and then flattens out towards the top. It will be a key passage for the daily breakaway. After a fast descent, some false flats will lead to another uphill section, made by short, isolated ramps that will bring the riders to the two very close intermediate sprints of the day. Once past those, the route goes back to the coast, and stays there for pretty much the rest of the stage. Roughly 100 km are totally flat and easy (beside the low risk of crosswinds), but after those the terrain starts to get tricky, with the second categorized climb of the day, Fuscaldo (GPM4, 2 km at 6.8%), that is preceded and followed by othe shorter ramps and descents. The top of Fuscaldo is at 24 km to go, and the finale is quite tricky. At 7 km to go the ramp to Acquappesa starts. It's roughly just 1 km at 6%, with some steeper ramps in the secon half, but topping at 6 km to go makes it a possible key point of the race. From there on there is no proper flat, as the peloton rolls back to Guardia Piemontese Marina to tackle the final difficulty of the day, the uphill finish of Terme Luigiane, with 2 km at 5.3% and again steeper gradient at the top, as the last 700m are at 8%.


The Climbs:
Barritteri GPM3
No profile again. Starts much steeper than its overall average, but definitely not steeper than 7%.

Fuscaldo GPM4
A short climb with decent ramps.

What to expect:
Clear opportunity for the puncheurs, the decisive move could come anywhere in the last 10 km. The breakaway might take it as well.

STAGE 7: Castrovillari – Alberobello 224 km




Technical Overview:
Stage 7 is a long but fairly easy one, that can be divided into two parts: the first part is completely flat along the coast of the Ionian see, almost entirely straight for over 100 km, where the only difficulty might be crosswinds, which are actually quite likely, albeit they're usually weak. The second part of the stage goes into the inland of the Puglia region, where after the first intermediate sprint the only GPM of the day starts. Bosco delle Pianelle (GPM4, 4.9 km at 3.6%) isn't exactly a big deal for a professional peloton. Once through it, the riders will face a bit of an irregular terrain, without particular difficulties but with some little ramps here and there. The finale (see map) is quite weird, regarding both the profile and the planimetry. There are some significant gradients (4-5% in small ramps) and very tricky bends inside the town of Alberobello, where the stage finishes.



The Climbs:
Bosco delle Pianelle GPM4
Did you expect a profile? Lol :eek:

What to expect:
Bunch sprint obviously, but a very nervous one. As I mentioned, crosswinds are likely but they should be weak, and even in case they do damage, they will occur at 100+ kms to go... hard to believe they'll mean anything. The final kms, on the other hand, will be extremely tricky for a presumably full peloton.

STAGE 8: Molfetta – Peschici 189 km




Technical Overview:

The second weekend opens with a very interesting stage. From the town of Molfetta, the peloton will race straight along the coast for the first 84 km. Crosswinds are possible but unlikely, as the most usual wind direction there would be a tailwind. The riders will leave the coast to climb the hardest climb of the day, Monte S.Angelo (GPM2, 9.6 km at 6.1%), a regular and solid climb that will warm-up legs nicely. The descent will bring everyone back to the coast of the Gargano peninsula, which looks completely different from the coast of the first part of the stage. Full of little climbs and descents, very twisty, this is far from the typical coastline road and not an ideal setting at all for a full bunch. The categorized climb to Coppa S.Tecla (GPM4, 7.6 km at 4.2%) would deserve perhaps a higher category, and will lead the peloton to a somewhat easier coast section, around the town of Vieste, before the road starts to get tough again, at around 11 km to go. The uncategorized climb that follows is made by 2 ramps. The first measures 2 km at 6%, topping at 9 km to go and followed by a very short descent of 1 km. The second part starts with 1 km at 6% and then flattens out progressively, topping at 4.7 km to go. From there, a very short and fast descent, with only two tricky hairpins at the bottom, will lead to a 1.5 km flat section, bringing the riders to the last difficulty of the day, the road to the center of Peschici itself: 1.5 km at 5.7%, with the last 200m kicking up to 10.5% that will make for an unusual uphill sprint. It's a bit stupid that the last km profile start from only 4.7 km to go, really...


The Climbs:
Monte S.Angelo GPM2
Pretty solid climb, almost 7% all the way.

Coppa S.Tecla GPM4
Looks like it starts with 2.5 km at around 6.5%, then flattens out. No profile found.

What to expect:
This stage has a lot of potential to be fun. More about the stage win than the GC, as the climbs aren't that hard and tomorrow is a big day. Puncheurs will have a huge chance to get a win and they should really make sure they exploit it. Obviously, a breakaway also has chances, too.


Story Time:
Alfredo Binda (1902 - 1986), one of the record-holders of the Giro history, and considered one of the all-time greats of the sport. He won his first stage at the Giro 1925, in Bari, at a few km from Molfetta (yes I know, but there weren't better stages for me to mention him, and he really deserves to be remembered). He won that Giro, the first of his 5 overall wins, the most in history, together with other two legendary riders I will talk about later. In 1927 he won 12 out of 15 Giro stages, establishing a record still standing today. In 1929 he established another record, by winning 8 consecutive stages. His superiority in all kinds of stages was so awkward that in 1930 the organizers paid him to NOT ride the Giro. He went to the Tour that year, but after winning the first two Pyrenaic stages he dropped out, officially due to a mechanical, but probably because of arguments with the Italian federation. In his career he won 3 times the World Championship, 2 times the Milano-Sanremo and 4 times the Giro di Lombardia. He retired from activity in 1936, after crashing at the Milano-Sanremo and breaking his femur.
After the war he became coach of the Italian national team for twelve years, winning the World Championship 4 times, with Bartali, Coppi (2x) and Nencini. 

STAGE 9: Montenero di Bisaccia – Blockhaus 149 km




Technical Overview:
The second weekend find its peak (literally) with the hardest MTF of the race. The first half of this short but demanding stage are very easy, along the Adriatic coast. After reaching the town of Francavilla al Mare, however, the peloton will head towards the highest mountain range of the Appennines. There are no categorized climbs before the MTF, but a few little bumps will provide a proper warmup. First, the climb to the intermediate sprint in Chieti (~5km at 5%, very different from the usual steep wall in the recent editions of Tirreno-Adriatico), and then the long and gentle drag to Lettomanoppello will bring the riders to the town of Scafa, where the mighty Blockhaus (aka Maielletta), the hardest climb in the Appennines, starts. The first 10 km at 4% leading to the town of Roccamorice are just a teaser though, as the climb officially starts just there. The Blockhaus (GPM1, 13 km at 8.4%), hasn't been climbed from this side since the '70s, its hardest side, that has been a race designer's wet dream since a long time. All the MTFs on it were climbed from the easiest of all its sides, the one from Pretoro, but the Blockhaus has seen champions of the magnitude of Merckx, Fuente and Argentin. This year they won't go to the top, as they will finish at the Rifugio Mammarosa, like they did the last time they went to this mountain, in 2009 (the century celebration edition). Even without the 6 km at 7% that lead to the very top of this monster, the riders won't really have it easy, since the main section of the climb features almost 10km at 9.4% average.


The Climbs:
Blockhaus GPM1:
A monstrous climb, without crazy gradients but always at 9-10% after the first 3.5 km. There is a little descent at 0.5 km to the end, around 100-200m long.

What to expect:
Carnage on the last climb, a clear winner and half the forum claiming the Giro is over and complaining about such a hard finish on stage 9.


Story Time:
It was the Giro 1967, stage 12. From Caserta to Blockhaus, over a hilly terrain that ended with a new long and hard climb. The Spaniard José Pérez Francés was the pink jersey that day, a long, hard day on the saddle, which the favourites rode the modern way... all together until the last kms of the Blockhaus. At two kms to go, Italo Zilioli attacked from the front group. Nobody but one could follow. That young Belgian "sprinter" who had won the Milano-Sanremo that year, and arrived with the best already on the Etna MTF, at his first GT ever. Eddy Merckx followed Zilioli for a km, then dropped him to get the first GT win of his career. His legend was yet to start, as the not-yet-Cannibal would arrive 9th in Milan at more than 11' from Gimondi... but it was now clear that the guy was not just a one-day racer. Merckx won the Giro and the Tour 5 times, wore the pink jersey (as well as yellow) for most days than any other, won the triple (Giro, Tour, WC) twice, won all the monuments at least once, and is the rider with most wins at Milano-Sanremo. As far as GTs go, he started here.

STAGE 10: Foligno – Montefalco 39.8 km ITT




Technical Overview:
The first ITT of the race comes the latest in recent times, with the GC presumably already shaped up by two very serious MTFs, and after a rest day. With a length just short of 40 km and a flattish terrain, this ITT is clearly good for specialists, more than last year's one, although not as good as other Giro TTs like the ones of 2013 and 2015. The route is very conveniently divided in 3 sections by 2 intermediates. The first section, 9.8 km long, is totally flat, on long and wide roads, absolutely perfect for specialists. The second section instead goes up the hills, featuring some twisty roads and rolling terrain, the hardest part being the road towards Madonna delle Grazie, 5 km always with easy ramps (never above 5%) and respites. The third section is again similar to the first in terms of mostly straight roads, but the terrain is not as flat, with some gentle uphill ramps (see last kms profile) that will lead every rider to Montefalco.


What to expect:
As I said, a TT for specialists. Serious gaps. 50-55 minutes of effort (but I'm always terrible at predicting TT times).

STAGE 11: Ponte a Ema – Bagno di Romagna 161 km




Technical Overview:
Probably the best medium mountain stage, coming straight after a demanding ITT. From the village of Ponte a Ema, just outside Firenze, birthplace of Gino Bartali, the riders will zig-zag through the Appennines, with 4 climbs in the rather short distance of 161 km. The first 15 km are pretty much the only real flat of the stage, leading to the town of Pontassieve, where the first difficulty begins. Passo della Consuma (GPM2 15.9 km at 6.1%). Its descent is very fast, and has some really technical sections. Once reached the bottom the riders will find no respite, as the road will point uphill again, towards Passo della Calla (GPM3, 16 km at 5.3%), very regular with ramps at 5-6% all the way to the top. The top marks the border between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, and the descent that follows is extremely technical, with even some narrow road segments. From the end of it, the riders will go through a descending false flat of 14 km, bringing them to the third climb of the day. Passo del Carnaio (GPM3, 11.4 km at 4.5%) is very irregular, unlike its predecessors, and features some quite steep ramps alternating with false flats. Its descent is very short, only 5 kms, and leads to the finishing line in Bagno di Romagna. From there however, the riders won't be able to rest, because they'll have to do one lap of a pretty long circuit, that features just one climb, Monte Fumaiolo (GPM2, 23.1 km at 3.7%). This climb is just a very long, irregular uphill drag, with short descent and some solid ramps, before the last 3 km that have an average of 8.6%, ramping up to 12% at the very top, from which there will be 25 km to go. Of those 25, 22 km are occupied by a long descent, that can be divided into two sections. The upper part is through a narrow road, very twisty at the top, that makes for an interesting descent. This section lasts roughly 9 km. The end is marked by a little uphill section, with 3 km at 4-6% gradients. The second part of the descent is very shallow and straightforward, and lasts until 3.4 km to go. The finale is flat and mostly straight.


The Climbs:
Passo della Consuma GPM2
Quite a good climb, long and with solid gradients in the first part.

Passo della Calla GPM3
Similar to the previous climbs in terms of overall toughness, this one starts easy but gets harder in the last part.

Passo del Carnaio GPM3
Irregular climb, with 8% sections alternating with false flats.

Monte Fumaiolo GPM2
Very long but easy climb, with only one steep section of 3 km at the top.

What to expect:
Everything and nothing. This stage is definitely one of the stages with the highest potential, but that doesn't guarantee that it will be raced properly. The final climb isn't that hard, leaving aside the last 3 km, and if the gc is close nobody will risk anything before that. The struggle on the first climb will be hard though, and that might lead to things getting out of hand. Even an attack on the last descent is possible, but if the leader has a strong team it won't gain much, if anything at all.
Most of the expectations are tied to the outcome of the ITT. If the GC has been blown open by it, we will likely see something.


Story Time:
Gino Bartali was born in Ponte a Ema, on July 18th, 1914. He started his pro career in 1934, getting already in 1935 a fourth place at Milano – Sanremo and the overall win of the Itzulia. In 1936 he won his first Giro d'Italia, and the first of his three Giro di Lombardia. In 1937 he won the Giro d'Italia again, and in 1938 he won the Tour de France. In 1939 he finally won the first of his four Milano-Sanremo.
During the war he worked in a bike workshop, and allegedly helped around 800 Jews leaving the country, by working for a secret association and often smuggling documents hiding them in his own bike during his trips.
After the end of the war, he won th Giro at the first chance, in 1946, against his main rival and fomer teammate Coppi, who beat him the following year. In 1948 he crashed in the Giro, and went to salvage the season at the Tour. That was a very troubling moment, as Italy was on the brink of a civil war. For that reason, after the 12th stage, when Bartali was over 20 minutes behind the leader (despite having won already 3 stages) and was considering dropping out, he allegedly received a call by the Italian prime minister, who begged him to deliver an epic win that could release te social pressure in the country, that had been shaken in those days by a political murder. The next day, in the stage to Briançon, he won alone,gaining around 20 minutes over the leader and getting back into full contention. On the next day, he won again, getting the yellow jersey. He won that Tour with 26' of advantage and 7 stage wins. Legend says that when he got back to Italy he was received by the prime minister and granted the wish to never pay taxes again.
His career continued for a few years, always revolving around his friendship-rivalry with Coppi.
Retired in 1954, he died to natural causes on May 5th, 2000.

STAGE 12: Forlì – Reggio Emilia 229 km




Technical Overview:
The longest stage of this Giro is not anywhere as long as in recent editions, with the totally reasonable length of 229 km. It is also fairly easy, with two not very demanding climbs in the first half. First, starting at km 55, Colla di Casaglia (GPM2, 7.7km at 4.9%) will lead the peloton back in Tuscany, for a nice stroll in the Mugello area. The descent of Colla di Casaglia is very technical but rather short (9 km). From the bottom of it, the riders will go just short of 30 km of false flat in the valley, just before climbing again towards the second and last GPM of the day, Valico Appenninico (GPM3, 10.1 km at 3.3%), very regular and easy. The descent is fast and straightforward, and once past it the peloton will have 96 flat km to catch the breakaway. The finish is also very easy, with no dangerous turns and long straights.


The Climbs:
Colla di Casaglia GPM2
Not much to say about this one. If not that GPM2 is too much... but they probably want to give the breakaway an incentive...

Valico Appenninico GPM3
No profile. Looks just regular and really easy.

What to expect:
The breakaway to gain 20 minutes, and then to get reeled in by the full peloton for a bunch sprint.


Story Time:
Born in Forlì in the year 1881, Tullo Morgagni can be considered the father of competitive cycling in Italy. He started his career as a journalist in Milan at age 18, and after casually meeting and bonding during an airship cruise with the director of Gazzetta dello Sport, Eugenio Costamagna, he started working for the famous newspaper.
A huge sport enthusiast, in 1904, he organized the first Motorcycling competition in Italy, a 1000km team race. In the same year created a cycling race, the "Gran Fondo".
In 1905, he had the idea to organize a pro cycling race starting and finishing in Milan, initially called "Milano-Milano", that was a big success and would be renamed two years later as "Giro di Lombardia". In 1907 Morgagni, already become chief editor of Gazzetta dello Sport, took inspiration from a failed running race, a two stage competition from Milano to Acqui Terme and then from there to Sanremo, and created another cycling race, the Milano-Sanremo.
One year later, on August 5th, 1908, he got a telegraph from a friend of his, Angelo Gatti, founder and co-owner of Atala (a bike-manufacturer), who had discovered that another newspaper, the Corriere della Sera, was planning to organize an Italian stage race alonge the same lines of the recently created Tour de France. Morgagni acted immediately, and the following day he called a meeting with all the Gazzetta associates, who approved to organize the Giro d'Italia. The official announcement was printed on the daily issue of the Gazzetta dello Sport in date August 7th, 1908.
In 1913 he founded his own newspaper, "Lo Sport Illustrato", which was coupled with the Gazzetta and had two issues per month. During the war he became a war reporter, focusing on his passion, the aviation, which he treated as a kind of sport. His reports were describing the feats of the pilots as if they were athletes, and after the war he focused on campaigning for the usage of the airforce for civilian purposes.
On August 2nd 1919, at age 38, he embarked for a civilian flight from Milan to Venice and back. On the way back, the plane he was travelling on crashed. There were no survivors.

STAGE 13: Reggio Emilia – Tortona 167 km




Technical Overview:
Another chance for the sprinters, and this time it is the easiest one. It is also the last clear chance for them, so they better take it. Nothing else to add, besides that there is a tricky left turn at 400m to go.


What to expect:
Bunch sprint. Maybe the last one.

STAGE 14: Castellania – Oropa 131 km




Technical Overview:
What to say about this stage. It's really depressing. To think that anybody would even just conceive the idea of honouring Coppi and Pantani with this kind of profile... Looks like even the RCS profile guy didn't really feel motivated with this stage, judging from the huge filter he used, which makes most of the stage look unnaturally smooth. However, perhaps the filter is due to the fact that, this stage being the shortest of the race, the profile without it would look even worse than it does now.
Anyway, starting from Castellania, birthplace of Fausto Coppi, the riders will go though a pretty long neutral zone that will bring them down the hill all the way to the flats they will race in for 120 km, until the town of Biella, where the road will finally go uphill. The final climb to the famous (for cycling fans) Santuario di Oropa (GPM1, 11.8 km at 6.2%) starts very gently, and gets much steeper in the second part.


The Climbs:
Oropa GPM1
Only the last 5 km are hard.

What to expect:
An uphill sprint. The stage is not selective enough for a mediocre climb like Oropa to allow meaningful attacks. I'll be very surprised otherwise.


Story Time:
Fausto Coppi was born in Castellania on September 15th, 1919. One of the most prominent Italian athletes in history, his body looked totally different than the usual athlete. In particular, his toracic cavity was amazingly large and disproportionate, making him look like a freak when he was off his bike. On it, however, it was a completely different story. He started his pro career in 1939, racking up good placements from the get go. In 1940 he is hired for the team Legnano, as a domestique of Bartali. He participates to his first Giro, and the misfortunes of Bartali, who crashes and goes out of gc contention very early on, allow him to act freely and win the Giro, the youngest ever winner in history at age 20. In 1942 he established the hour record, with 45,871 km, just before being called to duty in the army. He would get captured while in service in Tunisia, and will get back to Italy only in 1945. In 1946 he'll resume his pro career with the team Bianchi, and start his legendary rivalry with Bartali. He immediately triumphs in the first of his three Milano-Sanremo, attacking on the Turchino with other 4 riders and winning alone with 14 minutes over the second place. He loses the Giro against Bartali but wins the Lombardia for the first of his 5 times. In 1947 wins the Giro again, and after a troubled 1948, he will get back to full force in 1949, when he will win both Giro (triumphing in the most famous stage of all time, the Cuneo-Pinerolo) and Tour (coming back from a 37' deficit), both against Bartali. He will repeat the double in 1952, and in 1953 he will win his fifth and last Giro, as well as his only world championship. He will win his last Giro stage in 1955, losing the GC for only 13'' against Fiorenzo Magni. His career will go on for another few years with lesser wins and some injuries, leading him to decide that 1960 would be his last season. Sadly, things would go differently.
On December 1959 he went to race a criterium in current-day Burkina Faso with a handful of other famous riders, like Anquetil and Géminiani. After the criterium they went to a hunting session, and during the night camp both Coppi and Géminiani contracted a very serious form of malaria. The first symptoms occured to Géminiani (who went on a coma for days but survived) much earlier than Coppi, and when Coppi fell ill, on December 27th, the doctors in Italy didn't believe it could be the same desease Géminiani was cured for in France, but just a heavy flu. Coppi's condition however got worse very quickly, and he ultimately died in the hospital of Tortona on January 2nd, 1960, at age 40.

STAGE 15: Valdengo – Bergamo 199 km




Technical Overview:
The penultimate weekend ends with a medium mountain stage, in a way that feels underwhelming, considering the past stage and the rest day ahead. The route presents no difficulties for the first 150 km, as the peloton moves east towards the hills of the area around Bergamo. At that point, the route follows the same finale of the last Lombardia. Unfortunately skipping the best part. The first climb the peloton will face is Miragolo S.Salvatore (GPM2, 8.7 km at 7%), a very regular climb that tops at 40 km to go. Its descent is technical but very short, and it is followed immediately by the second categorized climb of the day. Selvino (GPM3, 6.9 km at 5.4%) isn't much of a challenge, if legs aren't already been heavily tested. The descent is technical and 12 km long, and leads to a flat section of roughly 12 km. The last and possibly key difficulty of the day is the uncategorized climb to Bergamo Alta, 1 km at 7.9% with a very steep second half, including a short cobbled sector. The climb tops at 3.5 km to go, 3 of which are taken by a straightforward descent.


The Climbs:
Miragolo S.Salvatore GPM2
Very regular climb.

Selvino GPM3
Very easy after the first km, and quite short, too.

What to expect:
A breakaway stage I guess. The potential to make it meaningful for the GC is there, and the rest day would incentivate it, but it would take a huge team effort to do a successful attack.


Story Time:
Felice Gimondi was born in Sedrina (which is on the way of this stage, even though not marked on the profile) on September 29th, 1942. A complete kind of rider, he started his pro career in 1965, when he got a 3rd place at the Giro and a hugely surprising (overall!) win at the Tour, which won't ever manage to repeat. In 1966 he won the Paris-Roubaix and the Giro di Lombardia, and in 1967 won his first Giro d'Italia. In 1968 he won the Vuelta, becoming the second rider in history to won all three Gts, after Anquetil. His career is a neverending list of placements at the most diverse races, so I'm not going to list them all. In 1973 he won the World Championship, and he retired in 1978, with 3 Giro wins, 1 Tour, 1 Vuelta, 1 Milano-Sanremo, 1 Roubaix, 2 Lombardias, and the all-time record of podiums in the Giro, 9.

STAGE 16: Rovetta – Bormio 222 km




Technical Overview:
With all the flaws this route has, one cannot really complain about this stage. The queen stage of the 100th Giro is indeed worthy of the occasion. After a pretty depressing third weekend and a (perhaps unnecessary) rest day, the riders will start from the town of Rovetta and descend immediately into the Valcamonica valley, where they'll face a long slightly uphill drag 57 km long, up to one of the most famous towns for cycling fans, Edolo, where the descent of the mythical Mortirolo ends and Aprica starts. Today, however, we're not gonna do that. Instead, the peloton will tackle the mountains in an unusual way, climbing the Mortirolo from the Edolo side, for the second time in history. They did so only in 1991, the very first time the Giro raced this climb. On the history point of view, it is appropriate, even though admittedly the Passo del Mortirolo (GPM1, 12.6 km at 7.6%) from this side isn't as intimidating as it is from pretty much all its other sides. Being this early in the stage however, it will do nicely as a warm-up climb. From the top, the riders will keep heading north, descending the Grosio side (as they did in 2012) into the Valtellina valley, the favourite valley of all cycling fans. Another uphill drag, this time only 23 km long, will bring the riders to the finishing line in the town of Bormio, where they'll hear the familiar sound of the bell signalling the last lap. Unfortunately for them, this is quite a lap. The road will immediately ramp up, towards the highest point of the Giro, the Cima Coppi. The real one. The mythical Passo dello Stelvio (CC, 21.7 km at 7.1%, 2758m a.s.l.). Climbed from its Bormio side it isn't as hard as it could be, but it's still a long, consistent climb at very high altitude, which pretty much guarantees at least some kind of action and sore legs. The riders will have to be on their toes both uphill and downhill, as they'll have to descend its eastern side, the one with the famous 48 hairpins. After 25 km of a technical descent, the riders will turn west and, climbing a short 4.5km at 5.5% ramp, they'll enter Switzerland, crossing the border for the only non-Italian kms of this edition. After roughly 5 km of flat (with some small ramps) within the Val Müstair, the peloton will arrive to the town of S.Maria, where the last difficulty of this stage starts. The Umbrailpass (GPM1, 13.4 km at 8.4%), which can be seen as the northern side of the Stelvio, is an extremely serious climb, very steep but fairly regular, and despite being much shorter than the Stelvio it is definitely the hardest climb of the day. The climb tops as it connects to the Bormio side of the Stelvio, at the "Giogo di S.Maria", and from there the riders will go down the same way they went up earlier, towards Bormio, This is another very technical descent, where one will also need to pay attention to dodge all the fans that will presumably fill the road. Once everybody safely reach Bormio, there will be only 1 km inside the town to finally get to the finish.


The Climbs:
Passo del Mortirolo GPM1
One of the most famous climbs in the Giro, it's been ridden 12 times, the first in 1990 from the same side as they will do today. Which is not the classic one, since it was used uphill only that time, as it is normally raced as a descent. The classic side, from Mazzo di Valtellina, has been used 10 times, while the other used side is the one from Tovo, in 2012. From today's side it's not a crazy climb, but still... 9 km at 8%, a little 1 km false flat section and again 2 km at over 9%... It's no joke.

Passo dello Stelvio CIMA COPPI
Long, high and tough. The highest mountain pass in Italy had to be the Cima Coppi of the 100th Giro. It's just a bit of a shame it is from this side and not the eastern one, but this side is alright too, also on the history point of view.

Umbrailpass GPM1
Never used in the Giro, this is simply the Swiss side of the Stelvio. It connects with the side of Bormio 3 km before the top. It had an unsurfaced section until a few years ago, but it's full tarmac now. Very steep and regular ramps, almost always between 8-10%.

What to expect:
I don't expect more than second tier attacks on the Stelvio, both on the climb and the descent, as the false flat after it will probably discourage any main GC guy. However, anything different than a full blown carnage on the Umbrail will be a huge disappointment (and surprise).
As with the Etna stage, let's just hope this stage can indeed be raced. Although this time the problem is not the lava, but its opposite... :p


Story Time:
It was June 1st 1953, stage 20 (the penultimate) of that Giro. From Bolzano, the peloton was due to finish in Bormio. A short stage, that presented a new climb, the hardest ever ridden in the Giro yet. The Passo dello Stelvio (to be climbed from its hardest side, the one from Prato) was not on tarmac yet, and if it considered hard today, just imagine how it was back then. The pink jersey that day was Hugo Koblet, winner of the Giro 1950, first non-Italian to ever win the overall. In second place, Fausto Coppi, who the day before had tried everything to drop Koblet without success. On the finish in Bolzano the two had made a deal: Koblet would not sprint and let Coppi win the stage, and in exchange Coppi wouldn't attack on the following day and concede the overall.
In the morning however Koblet is visibly spent, and Coppi's team kept trying to convince him that the Giro was still within reach and he should have attacked. They also made him read the declarations of one of Koblet's teammates, who claimed that the day before the Swiss could have dropped Coppi but just decided to gift the stage to the old champion. Coppi started the stage in a very conflicted mood, and slowly decided to act. At around halfway the Stelvio, the group of favourites was very small. Coppi approached Defilippis, a young proising rider, and suggested he should attack. Defilippis obliged, and Coppi didn't follow deliberately, leaving a gap. Koblet fell to it, and accelerated to bridge to Defilippis, dropping Coppi. At that point Coppi felt free to claim the pact was nullified and unleashed one of the most devastating attacks of his career. He arrived at the top of the Stelvio with 4'30'' over Koblet, and on the descent both riders had some misfortunes, Koblet even fell off and lost time, and at the end Coppi arrived in Bormio with enough time to win the pink jersey with little over 1' to spare, winning his fifth and final Giro d'Italia.
Fast forward to 1965, stage 20, from Madesimo to Solda, with the Stelvio (from the Bormio side) towards the end. It's 5 years after Coppi's death, and the organizers created the Cima Coppi prize, in memory of the day I told you about. A small avalanche at the top led the stage to be shortened and become a MTF to the Stelvio. The winner was Graziano Battistini, with Vittorio Adorni in pink jersey. From that edition, the Cima Coppi was assigned to the winner of the highest GPM of the Giro. It was the Stelvio for 8 times. In total, 17 different passes have been Cima Coppi. But the highest, of course, is this one. The original.

STAGE 17: Tirano – Canazei 219 km




Technical Overview:
Long transitional stage in the middle of the Alps. From the town of Tirano, the riders will have to climb immediately the hardest climb of the day, the west side of Aprica (GPM2, 12.3 km at 6.3%), a pretty serious climb that will define the breakaway of the day. Following said climb the peloton will descend (very easily, through the usual side of Aprica) to Edolo, where they will begin a long drag that will lead them to Ponte di Legno, the start of Passo del Tonale (GPM2, 11 km at 5.7%), from the same side of the final MTF of the 2010 edition. The descent is again very fast and straightforward, and it is followed by a long stroll in the Val di Non, more than 50 km of descending false flat. The final climb of the day starts with 88 km to go. Giovo (GPM3, 5.9 km at 6.8%) will bring the peloton into the Val di Fassa. Here, they'll face a 70+ km ascending false flat, with very few easy ramps, all the way to the top of the valley, the town of Canazei, that hosts the finishing line.


The Climbs:
Aprica GPM2
From this side its very consistent and regular.

Passo del Tonale GPM2
This is the easier side of the Tonale, with pretty much the same gradient as the other, but shorter.

Giovo GPM3
Short with a pretty steep first ramp.

What to expect:
This is the typical kind of stage that ends with the breakaway winning and the peloton holding hands 20 minutes later. Especially considering the rest of the week. Anything happening gc-wise would be exceptional.

STAGE 18: Moena – Ortisei/St.Ulrich 137 km




Technical Overview:
The Dolomitic stage of the 100th Giro is a very short one, and although it features the classic number of 5 climbs, it does look a bit underwhelming compared to what a Dolomitic stage is used to mean. That said, this is still a pretty serious stage, that starts very hard right off the bat, as after 14 km of a gentle uphill drag along the Val di Fassa the riders will face the first climb of the day, the Passo Pordoi (GPM1, 11.8 km at 6.8%), a pass that is GPM1 only due to its prestige, as it has been Cima Coppi the most times in history. After its descent, only a few flattish kms will lead to the start of the climb to Passo Valparola (GPM2, 12.2 km at 6.4%), which will be ridden from a different side than they raced last year, while the descent will be the same. The riders will follow pretty much the same route to reach the town of Corvara, where they'll find the third climb of the day, Passo Gardena (GPM2, 9.3 km at 6.4%), that will bring them to the valley with the same name. After a fairly easy 18 km long descent, the peloton will reach the finishing town of Ortisei, but they'll not be finished yet. Instead, they will start climbing again, to Passo Pinei (GPM3, 4.2 km at 6.3%), much shorter and irregular than its predecessors, featuring some serious gradients in its central section. After this little climb, 15 km of descent and just a couple of flat will bring everyone to the beginning of the final climb, the one to Pontives (GPM1, 9.3 km at 6.8%), whose gradients get increasingly high, as its last 3 km have an average of 9.3%. Following this climb there is no descent, just a gentle drag of only 4 km to the finishing line of Ortisei, with a short but really steep ramp (~100m at 13%) at 500m to go.


The Climbs:
Passo Pordoi GPM1
One of the greatest classics of the Giro. This is the opposite side of 2016, longer but with pretty much the same gradient. Profile below.

Passo Valparola GPM2
Another classic climb, from this side (different than last year, although the descent is the same) has pretty similar numbers to the Pordoi.

Passo Gardena GPM2
The east side of this other famous climb is really short (with respect to the west side) but with decent gradients.

Passo Pinei GPM3
This pass hasn't been used frequently, especially in recent times. From this side it has a steep ramp, but it's too short to deserve anything more than GPM3. Profile below.

Pontives GPM1
An alternative route of the Passo Gardena, it was used last time in 2005, again as last climb, when Savoldelli attacked and gained the pink jersey from a struggling Basso, with a move that would prove crucial for his ultimate win.

What to expect:
This stage has definitely potential, but the fact that the final climb is also the hardest one will probably discourage attacks from far out. However, there is virtually no flat and the climbs, albeit not super hard, are surely enough if somebody want to go. Especially if the start is crazy fast, with the daily breakaway and all. Let's hope for a great spectacle.


Story Time:
May 26th, 1937. Almost exactly 80 years ago. It was stage 16 of that Giro, from Vittorio Veneto to Merano, 227 km with two climbs in the middle: Passo Rolle and Passo Costalunga. Two passes in the heart of the mountain range called "the Dolomites" (from the name of the mineral that makes most of those rocks), where the Giro had never been before. They were nothing more than mountain paths, with no tarmac, full of holes and stones. The Dolomites are also called "the Pale Mountains", as on the sunset they exhibit a very distinctive light pink color. Perfect for the Giro. That day, the pink jersey was one of the greats: Gino Bartali. He was dominating the race and dominated that stage as well. He attacked at the first hairpin of Passo Rolle, at over 100 km to go. He arrived in Merano alone, with over 5' of advantage. 
That was the beginning of the love story between cycling and those mountains. The Dolomites have featured pretty much in most editions of the Giro ever since. The Dolomite climb that has been raced the most is Passo Pordoi: it has been ridden 38 times, and it is the climb that has been Cima Coppi the most times in history (17). The first time the Pordoi was raced was in 1940, on a very short stage from Pieve di Cadore to Ortisei. The winner, again, was Bartali, but the pink jersey was Fausto Coppi.

STAGE 19: S.Candido/Innichen – Piancavallo 191 km




Technical Overview:
The last MTF of the race. From Innichen, in Südtirol, the peloton will head south-east towards the Friuli region. The first climb comes immediately: Passo Monte Croce Comelico (GPM3, 7.9 km at 4.3%) will be useful to define the daily breakaway, even though it won't even serve as a proper warm-up for the peloton. A long and easy descent down the valley will bring the riders to the uncategorized climb of Cima Sappada, which is mostly a false flat besides one ramp of roughly 2.5 km at 6% just before the intermediate sprint of Sappada. The top of the climb leads to a short descent and a long descending false flat, that will bring to the only real climb of the day besides the last one. Sella Chianzutan (GPM2, 11.7 km at 5.6%) is a good climb, whose average gradient is lowered by a short descending section in the first part. Unfortunately, after a pretty technical descent, there are 60 km mostly flat on wide and exposed roads, which kills any chance of attacks on the previous climb. At 15.5 km to go the final climb finally begins: Piancavallo (GPM1, 15.4 km at 7.3%) is a really hard climb, which should provide good racing as its hardest gradients are in the first half. The finale is pretty easy, with only a 2 km ramp at a steady 7% in the last 5 km. In particular, the last 1.5 km are basically flat. The selection has to be made before...


The Climbs:
Passo Monte Croce Comelico GPM3
A very gentle climb. Nothing much to add.

Sella Chianzutan GPM2
The first half of this climb is very irregular, ending with a descending section, but then the second half is much more regular, with ramps in the range of 5-8%

Piancavallo GPM1
Used only twice in the Giro. The first was in 1998 as a MTF, the second was in 2011, as the first climb of the mythical stage to Rifugio Gardeccia. The first 6 km are the hardest, with an average of 9.4%.

What to expect:
Nothing more than attacks on the last climb I'm afraid. Luckily Piancavallo has its steeper section at the beginning, so those attacks will probably come out earlier than the last 3 kms. The stage win will probably go to the breakaway, unless gc teams go berserk on the previous climb.


Story Time:
Marco Pantani, born in the town of Cesenatico in 1970, is one of the most prominent figures in the modern age of Italian cycling. Considered one of the best pure climbers ever, he had a troubled career, at first because of his frequent crashes and injuries, and later because of even worse stuff. His endeavours and his charisma on the bike made him a huge media phenomenon in Italy, and made cycling as popular as football again for the first time since Coppi and Bartali's years. His breakthrough was the Giro 1994, on his second season as a pro, that he started as a domestique for his leader Chiappucci. He got his first stage win on stage 14, in Merano, after attacking from the peloton on Passo Monte Giovo and be let go by the favourites. 
The following day he made his first and probably greatest feat. On the queen stage from Merano to Aprica, widely considered today as one of the greatest stages of all time, he attacked the leader, Berzin, on the Passo del Mortirolo, at over 50 km to go, followed only by Indurain and Cacaito Rodriguez. On the last climb of the day, Passo S.Cristina, Pantani dropped both and went to win solo with almost 3' on the second (Chiappucci) and over 4' on Berzin who kept the jersey, with Pantani reaching the second place in GC. On the stage to Les Deux Alpes, Pantani attacked on the Colle dell'Agnello at over 100 km to go, blowing up the race and causing the other favourites to chase him but, being left alone on a windy valley, he had to surrender to the chasers. He finished that Giro in second place. The same year he participated to his first Tour, getting on the final podium as third, and winning the white jersey. 
At the end of 1995 he suffered a huge crash during Milano-Torino, getting run over by an SUV who was driving on the closed road of the race. He basically lost the whole 1996, but he got back in a good shape in 1997. At the Tour of that year he finished 3rd, and established the all-time record of the Alpe d'Huez.
In 1998 he finally had a year without misfortunes. He won the first big MTF of the Giro in Piancavallo, and finally got the pink jersey by attacking on Passo Fedaia on the way to Selva di Valgardena. He then won in Montecampione to cement his overall win. The same year, he won the Tour by attacking on the Col du Galibier, on the way to Les Deux Alpes, accomplishing the last double in history. 
In 1999 he started in full force, winning the Giro stages to Oropa and Madonna di Campiglio while looking unstoppable. On the morning of the queen stage, from Madonna di Campiglio to Aprica, where he was due to climb the Mortirolo and S.Cristina again, for the first time since his breakthrough in 1994, he was suspended for 15 days due to a 52% level of hematocrit. Having previously become a huge personality for the Italian media, this incident was blown out of proportion, and he fell into depression. In 2000 he participated to the Giro by riding into shape day by day, and he was ultimately decisive (with his pulling on the Izoard) for his teammate Garzelli to win the Giro. At the Tour of the same year Pantani started badly, losing a lot of time in Hautacam, but on the stage to Mont Ventoux he resurrected, winning the stage over Armstrong. Pantani got angry at the american (since he later claimed that he gifted that win), and kept attacking him during the whole Tour, dropping him in Courchevel, where he got his second win, and arriving to the point of attacking on the stage to Morzine at 100+ to go. The attack failed, and Pantani dropped out of the Tour that evening, causing the wrath of ASO, that would never invite his team again. 
As Pantani's depression got worse and worse, he never got to his former levels in 2001 and 2002. At the Giro 2003 he seemed on the way to get back, producing pretty good results for the first time since 2000, but disappeared again after it. He was found dead for cocaine overdose in a hotel room in Rimini on February 14th, 2004.

STAGE 20: Pordenone – Asiago 190 km




Technical Overview:
The last chance for the climbers. A stage where one has to attack from far out to gain any time. Starting from the town of Pordenone, this final mountain stage starts with 35 km of flat, before hitting the first difficulty of the day, Ca' del Poggio (GPM4, 1.1 km at 12.7%), which is just a steep wall, that might only help definining the breakaway of the day. This breakaway, however, might be crucial for the GC guys ambitions. The 50 km that follows features some small climbs and in general a bit of a rough terrain, not demanding but good to warm-up the legs in case a team goes full gas. At km 98.5 the road changes drastically, as the peloton starts the mythical Monte Grappa (GPM1, 24.2 km at 5.3%). From this side of the Grappa the road isn't as steep as pretty much any other side, but that doesn't make this climb easy. The first part is the steepest and most regular, with 8.5 km at 7.8%. After that, the climb becomes very irregular, with false flats ans short descents followed by steep ramps. From the top, the riders will face a very demanding descent (the same as 2010, when Nibali broke away and won in Asolo), fast and technical, leading to the town of Romano d'Ezzelino. Here, there will be 13 km of flat terrain, that will bring the peloton to the foot of the final climb of the 100th Giro, which is a new one. Foza (GPM1, 14 km at 6.7%) wasn't exactly a candidate when one thought about the final climb of a Giro at all, even more considering this is not "just" a Giro. But yeah, we got this one. It's not a bad climb though: very regular and consistently with a gradient of 7%, it's definitely enough to favour any kind of action. What makes it much more interesting, however, is that there is no descent. From the top, every rider will face 14.8 km of rolling false flats, where small groups and temporary alliances might win or lose minutes, a bit like what happens on the usual road to Aprica. Leaving aside the (non-existent) prestige of the last climb, this is a fitting final mountain stage.


The Climbs:
Ca' del Poggio GPM4
Just a steep wall. Too isolated to matter much.

Monte Grappa GPM1
Raced only 5 times in the Giro, this classic climb has been ridden from 3 different sides. The first one, in 1968, was a MTF from the side of Romano d'Ezzelino, the road they'll be descending today. This side was also climbed in 1982, in a stage that finished in S.Martino di Castrozza. In 2010 and 2014 they climbed the side of Semonzo, which we won't see today at all, while the side they'll climb today was first raced only once, in 1974. It starts with a consistent section of 8.5 km at 7.8%, and then becomes very irregular, with false flat sections and steep ramps.

Foza GPM1
Never used before in the Giro. Very regular and consistent.

What to expect:
As I said, a stage where one has to attack from far out to gain any time. And that means, either attack on the Grappa and use your teammates in the breakaway to stay away on the flat, a bit like what happened last year on the way to Risoul, or completely shatter the field on the last climb and stay away, counting on the fact that everybody should pretty much be by themselves. Who wears pink at the end of this stage won't have it in the bag yet, though...


Story Time:
June 7th, 1974. It's the last mountain stage of one of the best Giros ever. 194 km from Misurina to Bassano del Grappa. 4 passes: Falzarego, Valles, Rolle and this one, the Monte Grappa. One man broke away, he is alone in front of everybody: José Manuel Fuente Lavendera, one of the greatest climbers of all time. His Giro has been a roller-coaster. He started in a great shape: he won in Sorrento, dropping everybody on the Monte Faito and getting the pink jersey. Then, he proceeded to win again in Carpegna and Il Ciocco, and even pulled out the ITT of his life, only losing 2' to his main rival, Eddy Merckx. Unfortunately for him, he blew up in a medium mountain stage towards Sanremo, losing over 10' and of course the jersey. But he didn't give up. While Merckx was worried about his two GC rivals, Felice Gimondi and the young Giambattista Baronchelli, Fuente attacked every time the road went up, and won solo on Monte Generoso and on the day before, on Le Tre Cime di Lavaredo, when Merckx looked on the brink of collapse and got dropped by Baronchelli, saving the pink jersey by only 12''. Gimondi lingers in third position at only 33'', and Fuente is fifth, at just over 3 minutes. At 5 km to the top of Grappa, the situation looks lost for Merckx. Fuente is up the road, with a reported advantage of 3'30''! Additionally, Baronchelli and Gimondi are on his wheel, and he's forced to pull by himself. It's raining and there's a heavy fog everywhere. But at the top of the climb Merckx can't believe what he sees: Fuente is there, he just got over the top with 5'' advantage. Nobody really knows what happened. Fuente will claim that the motorbikes made him take a longer route (there are lots of secondary roads near the top, so it's possible). Merckx will manage to prevent anybody from escaping during the descent, and to win in Bassano, securing the Giro. Fuente will never win the Giro, but with this edition will win the first green (sigh) jersey, created that very year to indicate the leader of the GPM competition.
To this day, RCS celebrates this stage constantly by trolling hard with their GPS gaps.

STAGE 21: Monza – Milano 29.3 km ITT




Technical Overview:
The final stage is not a flat parade this time, for the first time since the 2012 edition. In fact, this is quite an important stage: a 30 km, pan-flat ITT, absolutely perfect for specialists, apart from the fact that it comes after a full, grueling three weeks of a GT. Beginning from the start line of the famous Autodromo di Monza, the second most ancient permanent race track in the world, each rider will perform a full lap of the track, before entering the paddocks through the pit-lane and leaving the complex and heading towards Milan. The route traverses mostly wide roads featuring long straights, that will be hell for lightweights, all the way to the center of Milan. The finale is the only slightly tricky section, featuring a few dangerous turns and some very easy cobbled surface. The finishing line is in Piazza Duomo, as usual the last times the Giro finished here.


What to expect:
The final battle for the GC, if it is still open. For everyone, the last ~35' of the 100th Giro. Gaps might be consistent.


Story Time:
The issue of Friday, August 7th 1908, of Gazzetta dello Sport, a Milanese newspaper that years earlier had already founded the Milano-Sanremo and Giro di Lombardia, carried the announcement that a Giro d'Italia would be created, the first edition planned to start in less than a year, on Thursday, May 13th 1909.
The first route of the Giro included only 8 stages, to be held in non-consecutive days, in order to let the riders rest after stages that were on average 300 kms long.

1 May 13th Milano > Bologna 397 km
2 May 16th Bologna > Chieti 378.5 km
3 May 18th Chieti > Napoli 242.8 km
4 May 20th Napoli > Roma 228.1 km
5 May 23rd Roma > Firenze 346.5 km
6 May 25th Firenze > Genova 294.1 km
7 May 27th Genova > Torino 354.9 km
8 May 30th Torino > Milano 206 km

The format was quite different to what we're used to. The GC was placements-based, with no time gaps at all: simply, the rider with the lowest aggregated position in all stages would win the GC.
Only 128 riders showed up in Milano for the first stage. The start took place at 2.53 AM (yes, AM), in front of a pretty impressive crowd, considering the circumstances.
The first Giro proceeded, full of punctures, crashes, mechanicals and all sort of weird and sometimes funny stuff, like riders taking the train for a part of a stage, and being busted by the jury with a surprise checkpoint in the middle of it... with crowds becoming bigger and bigger, to the point that at the start of stage 7, in Genova, the organisers were afraid to let the race start in the city center with all the fans around, so they decided to let the riders parade until just outside the city, where they would give the actual start. It was the first neutralized start in history, something that will quickly become standard, even today.
At the finish of the final stage, in Milano, the crowd is massive, and the finishing straight is "secured" by the army, with lancers charging at the sides of the peloton. Apparently, one of the horses panics and causes a crash in the sprint, and the two that are least affected are Dario Beni, who wins, and Carlo Galetti. Luigi Ganna, the gc leader, arrives third, and even if he's not aware of his position due to the mess, he wins the Giro with a total of 25 points, against Galetti's 27 and Giovanni Rossignoli's 40. He will celebrate the triumph with a huge, delighted crowd, parading the city center. The Giro d'Italia was history already.


Eshnar said:
OMG I finally finished this thing. :eek:

It's past midnight and I didn't proof read it (because you know, sometimes tl:dr applies to the writer too...), so please tell me about mistakes/typo. I'll probably fix it tomorrow.

Great work again mate, thanks for this.

I leave this as an open tab throughout May, and return regularly to it :lol: