Giro d'Italia 2020 Giro d'Italia: Stage-by-Stage Analysis

So, the Tour is over, the Worlds are coming this week and I am publishing my Giro preview, just as it has always been every year…

It’s been a rough 16 months without the Giro, but the wait is finally (almost) over.

The 2020 Giro will not start in Hungary as originally planned (I even had my tickets for Budapest ready…) but in Sicily, where it was due to start in 2021. As a result, the two flat stages planned in Hungary have been substituted by two hilly stages in southern Italy, making this edition even harder than it was meant to be, and in my opinion one of the best in recent times.

We will start with a short ITT, then an uphill sprint, then a full mountain top finish… the race will start strong and will stay strong throughout the first two weeks, with lots of hilly stages and very few clear sprints (despite all the best sprinters being present), and then it will become outright crazy in the last week, with three mountain stages of 200+ km and 5000m altitude gain. Granted, being October we will have to pray for good weather, as two stages are at very high altitude, but on the bright side there will be no snowbanks to clear, and no risk of avalanches on the road. Overall, despite the three ITTs, it’s a Giro for climbers like always, but climbers that are not afraid to attack from far, as there are only two hard MTFs in the whole race, and all other chances for attacks are relatively far from the finish.

So, fingers crossed (for everything) and let’s get ready for the first (and hopefully only) Giro edition in October!

NOTE: All stages are due to finish at about 16:30 CEST


Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5
Stage 6
Stage 7
Stage 8
Stage 9
Stage 10
Stage 11
Stage 12
Stage 13
Stage 14
Stage 15
Stage 16
Stage 17
Stage 18
Stage 19
Stage 20
Stage 21

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Stage 1: Monreale – Palermo 15 km ITT
Saturday, October 3rd, 13:15 CEST

Technical Overview:

The 2020 Giro d’Italia starts in Sicily, with a short but pretty interesting individual time trial from Monreale to the region capital, Palermo. It is a TT for specialists, but the profile is quite unusual. The riders will start climbing immediately towards the cathedral of Monreale (GPM4, 1.1 km at 5.6%), which serves as the first categorized climb of the race and features some serious ramps in the final stretch, on cobbles. After reaching the cathedral, it’s all downhill towards Palermo. The first 3 km are a flat-out descent which only features two hairpins, and it is followed by 6 km of descending false flat on a completely straight road, all the way to the heart of Palermo and the second intermediate checkpoint. Here, there is a 90-deg turn to the left that leads to the last 6 km sector of the stage, all in the center of Palermo, mostly again on straight roads but with a couple of twists, including a U-turn at 2 km to go, which is also the last turn of the route.

The Climbs:

Monreale Cathedral: GPM4, 1.1 km at 5.6%
A short climb with increasing gradients. The last 250m are cobbled and above 10%. We have no profile.

What to expect:

It’s a time trial for specialists, that’s for sure. The first little climb will be interesting for the first blue jersey, but the gaps there should be limited. The last 11 km are almost completely straight and flat, so gaps between the heavy and the light guys should be pretty consistent.

The Cathedral of Monreale
Stage 2: Alcamo – Agrigento 149 km
Sunday, October 4th, 12:45 CEST

Technical Overview:
The first road stage of this Giro is a rather short uphill sprint. The stage starts in Alcamo and features tough terrain from the get-go, with four consecutive short climbs that are not hard but will definitely favour the formation of a strong break of the day. Only the third of these climbs is categorized, Santa Ninfa (GPM4, 5.6 km at 4.2%), while the fourth has the first intermediate sprint at the top, in Partanna. From there, the road becomes mostly flat, following the southern coast of the island. It does feature a few ups and downs, but overall it should be a very easy terrain all the way to the finale, which starts after the second intermediate sprint in Porto Empedocle. Here the riders will approach the “Valle dei Templi”, the Valley of the Temples, one of the most famous landmarks of the island. Funny enough, it is not a valley, but a ridge that from the sea goes up to the hill where Agrigento sits. This is exactly what the riders will do too. The climb to Agrigento (GPM4, 3.7 km at 5.3%) has seen some good racing in the past, even if its numbers are not impressive. The last time the Giro arrived here, in 2008, the GC guys were in the mix (although the overall route was harder). This climb was also in the Worlds 1994, won by Leblanc.

The Climbs:
Santa Ninfa: GPM4, 5.6 km at 4.2%
Constant climb without any hard ramp. No profile available.

Agrigento: GPM4, 3.7 km at 5.3%
An interesting climb to have an uphill sprint on. The profile is on the last kms detail.

What to expect:
As I said, the climb itself can do some damage but the overall stage is very easy compared to its predecessors. That said, this is definitely not a bunch sprint. A fast climber (…or Sagan) should take it, but there shouldn’t be any gaps.

La Valle dei Templi
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Stage 3: Enna – Etna 150 km
Monday, October 5th, 12:10 CEST

Technical Overview:
The first MTF of the race comes immediately on the first Monday. This short stage starts from the town of Enna, in the middle of the island, and heads east through a sequence of shallow climbs and descents, rarely surpassing 5%, heading towards the highest active volcano in (geographical) Europe. None of these climbs is categorized, as the final climb will easily take all the attention, however some of them would deserve a category. For example, the climb that starts in Paternò and finishes just before Nicolosi measures about 13 km at 4%. It brings to the foot of the mountain (Nicolosi is the starting town of one of the roads that bring uphill), but the riders won’t start the real climbing yet. Instead, they’ll go around the mountain, from south to north through the eastern side. During the process, besides the stunning views, there will be two intermediate sprints, first in Zafferana Etnea and then, after a couple minor climbs, in Linguaglossa, where the climb finally starts. Mount Etna (GPM1, 18.8 km at 6.6%) has recently been a very common sight in the Giro, but often from different sides. The one of today is relatively new, having only been climbed in the 2011 stage, but not all the way to the top, as the road diverges 3 km before today’s finish. Those new 3 km are also the steepest part of the climb, which doesn’t bode well for long-range attacks, but being only stage 3 I think it’s fine. It is definitely a great climb to shake the GC up and to provide a first chance to gauge the strength of the climbers.

The Climbs:
Mount Etna: GPM1, 18.8 km at 6.6%

Yet another ascent to the volcano. This time it’s from the northern side, with a finish at Piano Provenzana. A very regular climb at 7% in the first two thirds, followed then by an easier and a harder section.

What to expect:
Hopefully attacks in the last 3 km (I would be very surprised if they come before that). Recently the Etna did not see good racing, mainly due to the wind and its usual early placement in the race. We’ll see this time.

Mount Etna
Stage 4: Catania – Villafranca Tirrena 140 km
Tuesday, October 6th, 12:15 CEST

Technical Overview:
The last stage in Sicily is the shortest of the whole race, and quite a weird one. Starting in Catania, the riders will go through rolling terrain for the first 50 km, mostly following the coastline. Just before the town of Taormina they will turn inland and cross the hills to reach the other side of the island. The climb they will face looks great on the official profile, but the scale is very inflated. Portella Mandrazzi (GPM3, 19.5 km at 4%) is just a Montevergine kind of climb: steady and very easy overall, but fairly long. It should be more than enough to drop the heavier guys if the peloton wants. The top however is at 65 km to go, with a long descent to come and an even longer flat stretch. The descent is 25 km long, very fast with wide roads. After that, the final 40 km are all flat, with the last 20 directly along the coast.

The Climbs:
Portella Mandrazzi: GPM3, 16.2 km at 4.6%

A rather long but easy climb. We have no official profile, so here is Cyclingcols’s.

What to expect:
This should be a good breakaway stage, with the climb in the middle that sprinters’ teams won’t easily be able to push on. If the peloton wants the stage win however, some pure sprinter might get into trouble. There is also some chance of wind in the final section of course.

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Stage 5: Mileto – Camigliatello Silano 225 km
Wednesday, October 7th, 10:25 CEST

Technical Overview:

The Giro goes back to the mainland for an awesome (and long) medium mountain stage in Calabria. From Mileto, the riders will travel along the Tyrrhenic coast for a few kms before heading towards the other side of the peninsula, all of this on rolling terrain with very little actual flat. After reaching the first intermediate sprint of Catanzaro Lido, the peloton will head north to the actual city of Catanzaro (GPM3, 4 km at 4.7%), the regional capital. However, they will only touch it quickly before heading down the hill again and starting another categorized climb, Tiriolo (GPM3, 10.6 km at 5.3%). Weirdly, the official GPM is just over halfway of the actual climb, which in total would be 17 km at 4.5%. At the top there is a long and irregular plateau, and the descent only starts 30 km later. The following climb, Rogliano, is uncategorized, even though it is 5.2 km at 6.3%, not too shabby. Its descent brings to the second intermediate sprint in the city of Cosenza, where we get the main dish of the day. Valico di Montescuro (GPM1, 24.2 km at 5.6%) is a massive climb, that starts with around 7 km at 6% before an easier section of 4 km at 4%. After reaching the town of Spezzano however, the peloton will take a secondary road that features a steep ramp of 1.5 km at 11.6%, just before reconnecting with the main road. From there, there are still over 10 at a steady 6%. The top is at 12 km to go, 8 of which are a fast descent and the last 4 are false flat.

The Climbs:
Catanzaro: GPM3, 4 km at 4.7%

Short and easy climb in the city. GPM3 is a bit of a stretch. No profile.

Tiriolo: GPM3, 10.6 km at 5.3%
As mentioned above, the climb actually continues for over 6 km more after the GPM. Still no profile.

Valico di Montescuro: GPM1, 24.2 km at 5.6%
A very long climb in La Sila massif. It was missing from the Giro since 1985. It’s a very steady climb besides its one ramp at over 11% around halfway up.

What to expect:
It will be a very demanding stage, the break of the day will likely get a huge gap and they will have good chances to defend on the last climb, unless the peloton is fully committed. If GC guys are interested, Montescuro is more than enough to do damage, probably more than the Etna. It’s still stage 5, but the ITT might have produced some good gaps and there are two more to come, so climbers should take what they can get. And as far as medium mountain stages go, you can’t get anything better than this.

La Sila National Park
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Stage 6: Castrovillari – Matera 188 km
Thursday, October 8th, 11:40 CEST

Technical Overview:
Here comes a medium mountain stage with an interesting finale. The stage is hard since the very beginning: from the starting line in Castrovillari the riders will immediately begin climbing towards the first (uncategorized) climb of the day, measuring around 11 km at 4.5%. At the top there is a short plateau and then a fast descent, leading to yet another climb (up to now, the riders will have seen very little flat since the beginning of the race). This second climb is longer but somewhat easier than the first. Just like the first however, it is uncategorized: 15 km at 3.8%. After its descent, which includes a short ramp to the first intermediate sprint in S.Severino Lucano, the peloton will finally hit a long flat section that will last for about 80 km. This also contains the second intermediate sprint, Craco–Peschiera. At 31 km to go the flat ends and the only categorized climb of the day begins. Millotta (GPM3, 4.7km at 6.8%) is an average climb but relatively close to the finish so the riders will have to pay attention here. It tops at 26 km to go, 8 of which are a descent. At the bottom there are only 7 km of flat before the road starts ascending again towards the finishing town of Matera, famous for its houses carved into the rock where people have been living since the Paleolythic. Until 4 km to go the slopes will be very gentle. Then, after a short descending false flat there will be a 750m ramp at 6.3%, which ends at 2 km to go. From there on it’s only false flat left, first descending and then ascending again.

The Climbs:
Millotta: GPM3, 4.7km at 6.8%

A weirdly hard climb on a three-lane road. No official profile.

What to expect:
Maybe a breakaway, otherwise the attackers will have a golden opportunity to attack from the peloton, either on the climb of Millotta or, more likely, directly on the final ramp at 2 km to go. The finale will be very nervous, and some GC guy might get caught napping and lose time in a split if they are not careful.

I Sassi di Matera
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Stage 7: Matera – Brindisi 143 km
Friday, October 9th, 13:00 CEST

Technical Overview:
It’s stage 7, and only now comes the first obvious bunch sprint of the race. From Matera to Brindisi there is not a climb in sight. The stage is very short and on straight and wide roads, with the two intermediate sprints quite close together in the middle of the stage, in Taranto and Grottaglie. The home straight is 1.2 km long.

What to expect:
Mass sprint of course. Only the wind can spice this up. And, fair warning, wind is a definite possibility in this area, so maybe we’ll be lucky.

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Stage 8: Giovinazzo – Vieste 200 km
Saturday, October 10th, 11:25 CEST

Technical Overview:

The second weekend opens with an interesting stage. From Giovinazzo the riders will go north, following the coastline for 90 km towards the first intermediate sprint in Manfredonia. There, they will enter the Gargano peninsula and follow most of the stage to Peschici of 2017. The first difficulty of the day is also the hardest: Monte S.Angelo (GPM2, 9.6 km at 6.1%) is a serious climb but it’s too far from the finish to matter. Its descent leads back to the rocky Gargano coast, which is characterized by twisty roads and almost no flat. The next climb is uncategorized, Coppa S.Tecla (7.6 km at 4.2%), but features some solid ramps in the first part. After the descent, the next little climb is inexplicably categorized instead, La Guardiola (GPM4, 1.4 km at 5.6%). Once the riders reach the finishing town of Vieste they will enter a 15 km circuit to be repeated twice. The only difficulty of the circuit is Via Saragat (1 km at 9.3%), which is short but hides some serious ramps (max 17%) and tops at 10 km to go, mostly descending false flats.

The Climbs:
Monte S.Angelo: GPM2, 9.6 km at 6.1%

A solid climb, close to 7% all the way to the top. Shame that it is so far from the finish.

Guardiola: GPM4, 1.4 km at 5.6%
Just very easy. No profile available.

What to expect:
Tough to call. Maybe the break of the day, maybe an attacker on the last wall, maybe even the peloton will keep it together for a reduced bunch sprint. This stage should be fun.

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Stage 9: San Salvo – Roccaraso 208 km
Sunday, October 11th, 10:20 CEST

Technical Overview:

The second Sunday of the race offers an interesting medium mountain stage with uphill finish. From the town of San Salvo, on the Adriatic coast, the peloton will head towards the Appennines and after 60 km they won’t see a single flat stretch anymore. The first notable point of the race is the intermediate sprint in Guardiagrele (no, they won’t ride the wall of 2014), which is on top of a small climb of around 7 km at 4-5%. After it the riders will move along the side of the Maiella massif, and then climb the first GPM of the day, Passo Lanciano (GPM1, 12.7 km at 6.9%). This is possibly its easiest side, but even so it’s a pretty hard climb. The descent is long and extremely fast, with lots of straights and very few curves. Once the peloton reaches the bottom, they will start climbing immediately once again, all the way up to the Passo San Leonardo (GPM2, 13.8 km 4.5%), whose official numbers don’t include the first part, which has comparable numbers to the second and is divided from it by a very short descent. If we include everything from Scafa to the top, we would get 37.6 km at 3.1%. It doesn’t have hard ramps, but it’s still a very long climb. Yet another descent (very easy) will bring everyone to the following climb, Bosco di S.Antonio (GPM2, 9.9 km at 5%), a very regular climb that tops at 27 km to go. Of those, 17 are on varied terrain on a plateau, which includes the very late second intermediate sprint in Rivisondoli. After reaching the town of Roccaraso, the riders will still face the last climb to Rifugio Aremogna (GPM1, 9.6 km at 5.7%), another easy climb, but with a steep final ramp maxing at 12%.

The Climbs:
Passo Lanciano: GPM1, 12.7 km at 6.9%

A common sight in the Giro, this climb is part of the mighty Blockhaus, one of the hardest climbs of the Appennines. The last time the Giro used it from this side it was 2009, in a ridiculously short stage that finished at Blockhaus.

Passo San Leonardo: GPM2, 13.8 km 4.5%
Long, slow and steady. It only has one serious climb in the first section. A huge chunk is missing from the official profile, although its numbers are not impressive either.

Bosco di S.Antonio: GPM2, 9.9 km at 5%
Nice and easy. It shouldn’t do damage unless the pace is very high.

Rifugio Aremogna: GPM1, 9.6 km at 5.7%
Last time the Giro arrived here it was 2016. It’s a very easy climb with a hard final ramp, with 1 km at almost 10% average.

What to expect:
A grueling stage that should be breakaway-friendly, without much action from the GC guys before the final uphill sprint. Perhaps some non-favourites could attack on the penultimate climb to try to gain significant time if the pace of the peloton is low. Tomorrow is a rest day after all, so someone might feel like trying something.

Stage 10: Lanciano – Tortoreto 177 km
Tuesday, October 13th, 11:55 CEST

Technical Overview:
Straight off the first rest day, the riders will face an awesome stage full of walls and tricky roads in the finale. The first GPM of the day comes after 45 km, possibly with the break of the day still forming. The wall of Chieti (GPM4, 1.8km at 7.8%), with its 1km long stretch at 11.5%, is a common sight at the Tirreno Adriatico, so most of the peloton should be familiar with it. From there the riders will head back to the coast, where they’ll stay for 60 km, all the way to the first intermediate sprint of Giulianova. At 60 km to go we reach Tortoreto, where the finish is supposed to be, but the route will take a long detour instead. First, the peloton will ride the GPM of Tortoreto (GPM4, 2.9 km at 7.3%), which is actually two steep walls connected by a short easier section. Its descent leads to another 10 km of flat along the coast to reach the town of Martinsicuro, where an impressive sequence of hills starts. The first one is also the hardest: Colonnella (GPM3, 3.1 km at 9.2%) is just a really tough climb that might do a lot of damage if the pace is high. The top is at 39 km to go, so not too long for attackers to seriously consider to try something. At the top there is a 5 km descending plateau, and then the road will go up again to the wall of Controguerra (900m at 9.7%), which instead of a GPM has the second intermediate sprint. This wall is much tougher than the average suggests, as it features a massive ramp of 250m at over 20% average. After the sprint (33 km to go) there is another descending false flat of 7 km which leads to a little climb of 3.5 km with mostly gentle slopes, having only one serious ramp at 8% in the last km. Another small descent will then bring the riders to yet another climb to Tortoreto (from a different road, 2.5 km at 7.1%). This uncategorized climb is quite irregular and hides another short 20% ramp in the middle. The top is at 18 km to go, and the following descent connects about halfway to the first climb of Tortoreto (GPM4, 1.8 km at 7.2%), so all that’s left is to climb the second wall of it, with max gradient 18%. From here only 11 km remain, 4 of which are a descent and the last 7 are flat and mostly straight along the coast.

The Climbs:
Chieti: GPM4, 1.8km at 7.8%

Used many times in Tirreno – Adriatico. Just short and very steep, with 1.1 km at 11.5% followed by a false flat. No official profile.

Tortoreto x2: GPM4, 2.9 km at 7.3%
This climb is divided into two ramps: the first one, that will be climbed only during the first passage, is 500m at 15.1%. The riders will enter the climb for the second passage just at the top of this ramp. After another km with gentle slopes, there is another steep ramp with very similar numbers to the first.

Colonnella: GPM3, 3.1 km at 9.2%
The hardest climb of this stage, it will be the perfect opener for the final sequence. It’s quite constant and does not offer any respite until the top.

Controguerra: 900m at 9.7%
Just a (really) steep wall. It is not categorized but we have an official profile, so I might as well add it.

Tortoreto (Via Badetta): 2.5 km at 7.1%
An irregular climb that hides very steep ramps along with lots of flattish sections, even a short descent near the top.

What to expect:
The stage suits pretty much any outcome, including a battle between the GC guys. It is possible to attack anywhere in the last 40 kms, and in any case a huge selection in the pack should be almost guaranteed. The last 7 flat kms might be a deterrent for the lighter guys, but still I don’t think they will be much of a factor.

Tortoreto Lido
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Stage 11: Porto S.Elpidio – Rimini 182 km
Wednesday, October 14th, 12:05 CEST

Technical Overview:
The only chance for a bunch sprint of the second week. The first 105 km of this stage are pan flat along the Adriatic coast, from the starting town of Porto S.Elpidio (famous between cycling fans for the awesome 2013 Tirreno stage) to the first intermediate sprint of Pesaro, where the first and only categorized climb of the day starts. Monte S.Bartolo (GPM4, 3.9 km at 4.1%) will provide some stunning scenery but nothing more. After it, the route goes inland for a section of rolling terrain, including the second intermediate sprint of Coriano, before heading back to the coast, finishing in Rimini. The last km are quite tricky, featuring a long series of turns, so forming trains won’t be easy, but the bunch sprint should be unavoidable.

The Climbs:
Monte S.Bartolo: GPM4, 3.9 km at 4.1%

Some good slopes with stunning views. No profile.

What to expect:
As I said, bunch sprint. The finale might be dangerous, so the riders will have to pay attention.

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Stage 12: Cesenatico – Cesenatico 204 km
Thursday, October 15th, 11:10 CEST

Technical Overview:
The Giro usually proposes stages that follow the route of a Granfondo, and this year the chosen one is the Nove Colli (the Nine Hills). This stage is a carbon copy of it, with start and finish in the town of Cesenatico and a counter-clockwise route. The first hill of the day, Polenta (9.8 km at 2.8%) comes after 26 km of flat and it is uncategorized, being overall very easy. It is followed by almost 20 km of more flattish roads that bring to the real meat of the stage, a basically uninterrupted sequence of eight climbs. San Matteo (4.3 km at 6.3%) is also uncategorized, this time undeservedly. It is followed by the first GPM of the day, Ciola (GPM4, 6 km at 6.4%), that would maybe deserve a third category. The descent is narrow and quite technical at the bottom, and it connects perfectly with the fourth hill, Barbotto (GPM3, 4.5 km at 8.4%). This climb features a really steep final section, and at the top there is a descending false flat on relatively wide roads. The fifth hill, Montetiffi (1.8 km at 9.8%), is again uncategorized, and after a quick descent the riders will hit the sixth hill, Perticara (GPM3, 8.1 km at 4.7%). A very twisty descent will then bring everyone to the seventh hill and highest point of the stage, Madonna di Pugliano (GPM3, 9.1 km at 5.5%), whose gradient is lowered by a 2.5 km false flat in the middle. Its descent is fast and fairly easy, and ends at the foot of the uncategorized eighth hill, Passo delle Siepi (5.2 km at 3.7%). Yet another descent and the peloton will find the ninth and last climb of the day. S.Giovanni in Galilea (GPM4, 4.4 km at 6.3%), that hides some serious ramps, in particular its last 900m at 9.6%. Shame that the top is at 30 km to go, half of it as an easy descent and half as pan flat to get back to the Adriatic coast.

The Climbs:
Ciola: GPM4, 6 km at 6.4%

Three steep km followed by three much easier ones.

Barbotto: GPM3, 4.5 km at 8.4%
Soldi climb with a steep final ramp.

Perticara: GPM3, 8.1 km at 4.7%
Longish climb (for this stage standards) but quit easy. In the official profile we get a free profile of the preceding climb too, Montetiffi, which is very short but steep.

Madonna di Pugliano: GPM3, 9.1 km at 5.5%
Two solid ramps divided by a short false flat.

S.Giovanni in Galilea: GPM4, 4.4 km at 6.3%
Structure very similar to the previous GPM, but overall shorter and steeper.

What to expect:
The stage is going to be really hard for everyone, but the breakaway should take it pretty easily unless something very unusual happens. GC attacks are unlikely due to the length of the flat section at the end.

Stage 13: Cervia – Monselice 192 km
Friday, October 16th, 11:40 CEST

Technical Overview:
A stage that might provide some surprises, with a very tricky finale. From Cervia the peloton will cross the Po Valley for 155 km, the only points of interest being the two intermediate sprints of Rovigo and Galzignano Terme, before entering the Colli Euganei area, where the fun begins. At 34 km to go the first climb of the day starts. Il Roccolo (GPM4, 4.1 km at 8.3%) is a serious climb, with a very steep ramp at 20% near the beginning and a final km at over 11% average (the official profile marks 13.4%, but it’s a typo… it’s 11.4% instead). Its top is at 30 km to go, and after a pretty fast descent the peloton will only face 4 km of flat before entering the second and last climb of the day, Calaone (GPM4, 2.1 km at 9.5%). This climb is much shorter than the previous one, but just as tough. The descent is very fast and on wide roads, and brings to the town of Este, from which only 12 km remain to reach Monselice, all on flat roads.

The Climbs:
Il Roccolo: GPM4, 4.1 km at 8.3%

A very steep short climb that will almost surely force a selection. As mentioned above, the last stretch marked at 13.4% is actually “only” 11.4%.

Calaone: GPM4, 2.1 km at 9.5%
Shorter than the previous climb but overall steeper and more regular.

What to expect:
This stage is perfect for an attacker. The two climbs might even be hard enough for GC to try an attack if they really want so, but I don’t believe that will happen, considering the 12 km of flat at the end and tomorrow’s stage.
Stage 14: Conegliano – Valdobbiadene 34.1 km ITT
Saturday, October 17th, 12:35 CEST

Technical Overview:
The long ITT of the race is not exactly long, but in these days and age that’s what we get. From Conegliano to Valdobbiadene, start and finish are exactly the same as the ITT of the Giro 2015, except that that one was 59 km long… and we are talking about 5 years ago, not a century. But I digress. The route of this year starts with 6.3 km flat before entering the only climb of the day, Ca’ del Poggio (GPM4, 1.1 km at 12.3%), a climb that the Giro seems contractually obliged to ride every damn year. At the top there will be the first checkpoint. The next sector measures 10 km of twisty but flattish roads up to the second checkpoint in Pieve di Soligo, after which the road gets easier until the third checkpoint in Col S.Martino. The final sector of 9 km features some rolling terrain, with some decent ramps (5-6% max).

The Climbs:
Ca’ del Poggio: GPM4, 1.1 km at 12.3%

Short and steep, it’s been climbed a lot recently. Never made any difference, as it was always far from the finish.

What to expect:
Overall, it’s an ITT for specialists but not as much as the first one, in particular if it rains. Gaps should still be large though.

Stage 15: Rivolto – Piancavallo 185 km
Sunday, October 18th, 11:05 CEST

Technical Overview:
The third weekend ends with the hardest MTF of the race, that comes with the GC already shaken by a time-trial. From the air base of Rivolto, home of the Frecce Tricolori (the acrobatic demo team of the Italian air force, so expect a show at the start), the riders will head into the mountains of the Friuli region. The first climb of the day comes after 54 km, Sella Chianzutan (GPM2, 10.6 km at 5.4%). If the break of the day is not yet settled, this climb will definitely decide its composition. Its descent is on twisty but wide roads, a common feature of almost the entire stage, and brings to the first intermediate sprint of the day, in Villa Santina. The route then almost immediately heads back south, climbing first the uncategorized Forcella di Priuso (3 km at 6.7%) and then Forcella di Monte Rest (GPM2, 7.4 km at 7.5%), a pretty solid climb that will wear some legs out if the pace is high. The following descent then leads into a 12 km long valley before the road goes up again to the easiest climb of the day, Forcella di Pala Balzana (GPM2, 13.3 km at 4.4%). This climb also features the second sprint of the day in Poffabro, on its central section, a rather weird placement. This time the descent is narrow and very technical, and it is a bit of a shame that it is followed by a descending false flat of almost 25 km. Finally, after reaching the town of Aviano, the final climb of the day begins: Piancavallo (GPM1, 14.5 km at 7.8%). A very demanding climb, that starts very steep and eases off a little towards the end. Tomorrow is a rest day, so the riders have no excuses.

The Climbs:
Sella Chianzutan: GPM2, 10.6 km at 5.4%

A decent climb, with constant slopes around 6%.

Forcella di Monte Rest: GPM2, 7.4 km at 7.5%
Quite an interesting climb with good gradient. We also get for free the profile of the uncategorized Forcella di Priuso.

Forcella di Pala Balzana: GPM2, 13.3 km at 4.4%
Very irregular but overall an easy climb that should only be good for putting some pace in the peloton.

Piancavallo: GPM1, 14.5 km at 7.8%
The hardest MTF of this race is a really hard climb, that starts with 6 km at 9.4%, followed by 5 km at 7.5% and then an easy 3 km final stretch. Used only three times in the Giro, the first in 1998 won by Pantani, and the last in 2017 won by Landa. In between, it was the first climb in the mythical Gardeccia 2011 stage.

What to expect:
A strong break of the day, hopefully some pace before the last climb and full on carnage on it. Whoever lost time yesterday will need to make a statement.

Stage 16: Udine – S.Daniele del Friuli 229 km
Tuesday, October 20th, 10:10 CEST

Technical Overview:
The killer third week opens with a very hard and long medium mountain stage in Friuli. From the city of Udine the riders will have only 19 km of flat before starting the first climb of the day, which is also the hardest: Madonnina del Domm (GPM2, 10.8 km at 7.1%), with almost 8 km at 8.8% before an easier final stretch, will definitely cause a great fight for the break of the day, both uphill and downhill, as the descent is very technical. The riders will then reach the town of Cividale, from which the road will stay mostly flat for 25 km. The second GPM of the day is significantly easier but still a decent climb, Monte Spig (GPM3, 6.4 km at 7%). The descent is also easier this time, and brings back to Cividale del Friuli, that features the first intermediate sprint. From there, 30 km of flat more before the third climb, short and similar in gradient to the previous climb: Monteaperta (GPM3, 3.7 km at 7.4%). From its descent the peloton will head towards the final circuit, that is to be repeated three times. It is 27 km long and features three climbs, only one of which is categorized. The first climb is the road to Susans Castle (1 km at 7.2%), a completely straight road which includes gradients up to 16% in the final ramp. 5 km later the GPM starts: Monte di Ragogna (GPM3, 2.8 km at 10.4%). The descent is narrow and quite tricky, and after flat 7-8 km the final climb in the finishing town of S.Daniele begins, with a short 20% ramp in the last km and a 10% home stretch.

The Climbs:
Madonnina del Domm: GPM2, 10.8 km at 7.1%

A tough climb placed where it hurts the most, straight at the beginning of the stage after a rest day.

Monte Spig: GPM3, 6.4 km at 7%
Rather average climb in the context of this stage, but still pretty good compared to most GPM3.

Monteaperta: GPM3, 3.7 km at 7.4%
Short but quite steep. Pity that it is so isolated from anything else.

Monte di Ragogna: GPM3, 2.8 km at 10.4%
A proper wall that will likely decide the stage and might even produce GC drama.

What to expect:
It is a very tricky stage, coming after a rest day. The pace will be hard on the first climb and if a GC favourite gets into trouble this could become a carnage. The final circuit alone will also provide some good chances for attacks, even if the peloton takes it easy in the first half of the stage.

San Daniele del Friuli
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Stage 17: Bassano del Grappa – Madonna di Campiglio 203 km
Wednesday, October 21st, 10:20 CEST

Technical Overview:
A very weird mountain stage. The first half of it is extremely hard, while the second is much easier although the total altitude gain is still impressive. Starting from Bassano the peloton will head into the mountains fairly quickly, as the first categorized climb starts after 40 km of relatively flat roads. Forcella Valbona (GPM1, 21.9 km at 6.6%) has never been climbed in the Giro from this side. It is a very long and steady climb that will presumably feature a hard battle for the formation of the break of the day. Its descent has actually been raced in the Giro once: it’s the mythical Passo Coe, that was the decisive MTF of the 2002 Giro. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should definitely check it out. As a descent, it’s a rather long and fast one, with some technical sections especially at the end.
At the bottom there are only 10 km of flat before reaching the town of Aldeno and starting to climb again. This time is the even more mythical Monte Bondone (GPM1, 20.2 km at 6.8%), a classic climb that rose to fame thanks to the epic 1956 stage and was missing in the Giro since 2006. This side is different than the usual one though: while the classic side is extremely regular, this one features two harder ramps broken up by a false flat section. The descent is again long and quite technical at the end.
After reaching the bottom, a short ramp and a false flat will bring to the first intermediate sprint in Ponte Arche and then to the third climb of the day, Passo Durone (GPM3, 10.4 km at 6%), which would deserve something more than a third category, but does nevertheless pale in comparison to the first two climbs. A fast descent brings then to the worst part of the stage, a 17 km ascending false flat (with the second intermediate sprint in Caderzone Terme) leading into the final climb. Madonna di Campiglio (GPM1, 12.5 km at 5.7%) is a pretty steady and easy climb. The last time they arrived here, in 2015, they climbed beyond the town, with a few more steep kilometers. This year they won’t do that, and the stage will finish basically on a 2.5 km false flat.

The Climbs:
Forcella Valbona: GPM1, 21.9 km at 6.6%

Never used in the Giro from this side. It’s long and pretty regular, without very steep ramps. Still quite a tough climb. The other side is the mythical Passo Coe, used only once, in 2002.

Monte Bondone: GPM1, 20.2 km at 6.8%
One of the absolute classics. This side was used in the stage to Andalo 1973, when Merckx won. But the iconic one is the northern side, the one made immortal by the 1956 stage in which Gaul won by over 8 minutes under a huge blizzard. Last time they raced here, in 2006, Basso crushed the field.

Passo Durone: GPM3, 10.4 km at 6%
A rather average climb, which looks worse compared to the first two.

Madonna di Campiglio: GPM1, 12.5 km at 5.7%
Infamous to cycling fans since 1999, It’s a rather easy climb that gets even easier at the end.

What to expect:
As much as I would love this to play out differently, I can only foresee a big break of the day that will take the win and some skirmishes between the GC favourites on the last climb. A proper attack here would require a team to set a serious pace throughout the stage and I don’t think many will be willing to do it, considering what’s in store tomorrow.

Madonna di Campiglio
Stage 18: Pinzolo – Laghi di Cancano 207 km
Thursday, October 22nd, 10:15 CEST

Technical Overview:
Here comes the queen stage of the 2020 Giro d’Italia, on stage 18, quite the unusual spot for Giro standards. It’s also one of only two GC-friendly high mountain stages, and the best stage for a long-range attack. From Pinzolo to the Lakes of Cancano, a never used finish that was due since quite a long time. The stage starts at the foot of yesterday’s last climb, which means the peloton will get to climb it again. This time, all the way to the top of Passo Carlo Magno (GPM2, 13.8 km at 6.3%), 3.5 km further up the road after Madonna di Campiglio. All in all, a solid climb, more than enough to create a strong break of the day.
The descent is very fast on wide roads, and leads down to the Val di Sole, where the riders will find 14 km of descending false flat. After that, the second climb of the day starts: Passo Castrin (GPM1, 8.8 km at 9.1%) has never been used before in the Giro. It would definitely do some damage if it was further down the stage, but being this early they will only be good to wear legs down, and maybe force a selection in the breakaway. Its descent is long (almost 25 km) but fairly fast and straightforward. It leads to the outskirts of the town of Merano, and subsequently to a short climbing section that brings to the long Venosta valley. Here the peloton will encounter 45 km of ascending false flat, with some demanding sections like the one after the town of Silandro.
At the end of this false flat lies the town of Prato allo Stelvio, where the first intermediate sprint is and the Cima Coppi of this edition (and many others) begins. The ultra-mythical Passo dello Stelvio (CIMA COPPI, 24.7 km at 7.5%) is a monstrous climb that is finally faced from its hardest side, for the first time since 2005. It’s the highest paved road in Italy and probably also the most iconic, especially on this side, with its 48 hairpins along 1850m of altitude gain. Its gradient is rather constant, in particular after Trafoi, always between 8-10%, without any respite for 15 km, all of this at high altitude. This is obviously the best spot for a long-range attack of the whole Giro, as the top is at 37.6 km to go, with a long and technical descent ahead. The descent itself might be a good spot to attack too. It is roughly 20 km long and features a lot of hairpins, with some very technical sections. The riders will not go all the way down to Bormio though, as they will turn right around one km before the town and head immediately towards the Valdidentro valley.
Here the riders will face roughly almost 10 km of flat before the next climb, something that is the only gripe I have with this stage, as a few of those kms are unnecessary: the route could enter the next climb much earlier, but instead the organizers decided to go all the way to Isolaccia, the second intermediate sprint of the day, and only then enter the final climb. A final climb which is a beauty. Torri di Fraele (GPM1, 8.7 km at 6.8%) is not an incredibly tough climb like the Stelvio, but it is arguably just as pretty. Its upper part features a series of 17 hairpins, one on top of the other, that will provide stunning views and hopefully stunning racing as well. If nothing happened on the Stelvio (God forbid), this climb will decide the winner. The top however is not at the finishing line, but 1.9 km before. This final stretch is mostly flat, with some very gentle slopes in both directions.

The Climbs:
Passo Carlo Magno: GPM2, 13.8 km at 6.3%

Basically the climb to Madonna di Campiglio from yesterday, plus 3.5 km with similar gradients.

Passo Castrin: GPM1, 8.8 km at 9.1%
First time the Giro climbs it. The official numbers don’t include the first part that has 6 km at 5.6% and then a false flat. All in all, a very hard climb.

Passo dello Stelvio, CIMA COPPI, 24.7 km at 7.5%
His majesty, the highest paved road in Italy. First climbed in 1953, when it witnessed one of the last feats of Fausto Coppi, it was also the first climb to be dubbed “Cima Coppi” in 1965 to give homage to the recently fallen hero. From there on, the Cima Coppi title was given to the highest point of each edition. This will be the 13th time the Giro climbs it, if the weather allows.

Torri di Fraele: GPM1, 8.7 km at 6.8%
New climb, looking very pretty and with a decent gradient. No matter what happens before, it will provide great views and a great spectacle.

What to expect:
Well it’s the queen stage, and there aren’t many opportunities for pure climbers to gain time in this edition, so they have to use what they get. Big fight to get into the break of the day, then calm before the storm on the Stelvio. At least a huge selection there (if not full-blown attacks), and then everyone by themselves on Fraele. Legs are sore and tomorrow is a relatively easy day…

Torri di Fraele

Passo dello Stelvio
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Stage 19: Morbegno – Asti 253 km
Friday, October 23rd, 10:05 CEST

Technical Overview:
The longest stage of this edition comes on the last Friday and it’s a pan flat stage sandwiched between the two biggest mountain stages. The riders will go from Morbegno, in Valtellina, to Asti, at the foot of the Langhe hills, crossing the Po Valley again. The first intermediate sprint is in Vigevano, at km 145, while the second one is in Masio, at only 26 km from the finish.

What to expect:
A bunch sprint, if there are still sprinters left and teams willing to chase the break of the day, that otherwise will take an easy win. Everyone else will treat this just as a long transfer and will save any drop of energy for the last weekend.

Asti, Cathedral
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Stage 20: Alba – Sestriere 198 km
Saturday, October 24th, 10:25 CEST

Technical Overview:
When cycling fans all over the world fantasize about mountain stages in the Alps, sooner or later they come up with this stage. I have seen it in almost every cycling forum out there, so much in fact that it’s hard to believe this route has never actually been raced before. But it’s finally time. From the town of Alba to the mythical Sestriere, here are the last four climbs of the 2020 Giro d’Italia.
The stage starts rather gentle, at the foot of the Langhe hills, and heads west on flat and straight roads for about 50 km, before entering the long Varaita valley. Here the road starts to rise up gradually, and the riders will find the first intermediate sprint of the day, in Brossasco. At km 74, the peloton will reach the town of Sampeyre, famous to cycling fans for two very good reasons: one is the eponymous climb that heads south, whereas the other is the climb the riders are actually going to face today, the mythical Colle dell’Agnello (GPM1, 21.3 km at 6.8%). This never-ending climb is basically two very different climbs in one: first a long drag of 22.5 km through the valley, with some sporadic serious ramps, like the one after Casteldelfino, where the official climb begins; then, after the town of Chianale, the second part starts, with its 9 km at 10%, from 1840m to 2744m above sea level, with only one short respite of 500m at 4 km to the top. Always relatively far from the stage finish, this climb has seen significant action every single time it featured in the Giro (which are not many, admittedly… only four). This being 2020 however, let’s not expect too much.
The top of the Agnello also marks the border between Italy and France, and the peloton will leave Italy for the only time of this year’s route, and for a very good reason. In fact, after a long and rather tricky descent (especially the upper part), the riders will only find about 3 km of flat before the road goes up again. If there ever was a non-Italian climb to have a special place in the history of the Giro, it would be this one: the Col d’Izoard (GPM1, 14.2 km at 7.1%), rigorously from the southern side (the one of the iconic Casse Deserte), has seen some of the most memorable moments of this race. Who knows, it might see the most memorable moment of this edition too, as this climb is by far the best place to attack today. The top is at 54 km to go. Many, but not too many.
The descent of Izoard is very technical at first and then eases off down the valley, not unlike the descent of Agnello. At the bottom the peloton will traverse the town of Briançon, climbing a short uphill wall to reach the old town where the second and last intermediate sprint is situated. After that, the route will head back to Italy through the third and easiest climb of the day, the Montgenèvre (GPM2, 8.4 km at 6%). This climb starts very gently, with 3 km at around 4% and then a false flat of other 3 km. Its last 7 km however have a very respectable average of 6.4%. At the top there are only 21 km to go. The descent is fairly easy and almost immediately crosses the border back to Italy.
At 11.5 km to go the peloton will reach Cesana Torinese, where the descent ends and the final climb of the day starts, and this is another mythical one. Sestriere (GPM1, 11.4 km at 5.9%) is one of the most classic stage finishes for both Giro and Tour. From this side it is an 11 km climb at around 6%, so nothing special but not a false flat either. If the GC guys haven’t attacked already, this should be more than enough to offer a last chance to gain a few seconds. The climb is hardest at the very beginning and at the very end, so any serious attack left should come as early as possible. Once they reach the town of Sestriere, the climbing of this edition is all but over. The GC battle however might not be done and dusted yet.

The Climbs:
Colle dell’Agnello: GPM1, 21.3 km at 6.8%

A crazy hard climb, first a long drag in the valley and then a Passo Giau worth of climbing at higher altitude than the original. Those 10.5 km at 9.3% always do a lot of damage. Last time they raced here this climb (and its descent) was decisive…

Col d’Izoard: GPM1, 14.2 km at 7.1%
As I mentioned, the most iconic non-Italian climb of the Giro history. Mostly because its presence in the Cuneo – Pinerolo 1949, but not only that. It’s missing in the Giro since 2007, when the stage finished in Briançon. Its second half is very consistently at around 9%, with only a very short descending section at 2 km to go. This year, its lunar landscape might see the key moment of the whole edition.

Montgenèvre: GPM2, 8.4 km at 6%
A climb that will bring everyone back to Italy in a very different way than how they entered France: on easy slopes and wide roads.

Sestriere: GPM1, 11.4 km at 5.9%
Giro or Tour, the race often has been decided here. It’s hard to find a climb more famous than this one in cycling, especially compared to its actual numbers, which are mediocre at best. It has been theater to some of the greatest feats of this sport: Cuneo – Pinerolo 1949, S.Gervais – Sestriere 1992… even one of the craziest ITTs ever, the Pinerolo – Sestriere 1993. The last time the Giro climbed this side it was 2009, when Sestriere was actually Cima Coppi of an unusually low altitude edition.

What to expect:
As always on the last mountain stage of a Giro, it depends a lot on the GC situation. The Agnello should force a selection by merely existing, and if a pretender has the legs on Izoard he will have to try. If nothing happens there, then all will be decided on Sestriere. Or even tomorrow…

Stage 21: Cernusco sul Naviglio – Milano 15.7 km ITT
Sunday, October 25th, 13:20 CEST

Technical Overview:
The last stage is again a short ITT, but unlike last year’s this one is pan flat, on long straights that will hugely favour specialists and cause some significant gaps. There is not much to talk about the route here. The stage starts in the outskirts of Milan and the only checkpoint will be at km 10.3, two thirds of the way and already in the city, which is a bit weird. The finish will be in front of the famous Duomo.

What to expect:
The last chance for everyone. Good gaps can still be made so the riders will have to give it their all. And then, finally, the podium and the trophy.

Duomo di Milano
There you have it. As it is tradition, I have made a lot of mistakes that you are now contractually obligated to let me know about.
Also, keep in mind that the numbers of some minor climbs might be wrong, as I'm still waiting for the official numbers that haven't been published yet. Once they do, I will update them.

And don’t forget, the next edition is in only 7 months from now!!! :cool: