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Giro d'Italia 2021 Giro d'Italia: Stage-by-Stage Analysis

Here we are again, after only six months. The 104th Giro d’Italia. In my opinion, the 2021 route is a step backwards with respect to the last two editions, due to the lack of a mid-race time trial and the overuse of hard mountain top finishes. That is not to say all is bad though. The biggest redeeming quality of this Giro, by far, is the return of a proper sterrato stage, which if we are lucky will produce the same kind of gaps that a long time trial would. It is also a bit less backloaded than usual, with several stages in the first half that should see GC action, albeit only in the final kilometers. Despite the virus, the route will (at least in theory) enter Slovenia and Switzerland, although all start and finish locations are in Italian soil. Hopefully that will not cause any issue. This year we will also avoid high altitude climbs, so the risk of stage alterations should be minimal, and we will probably be free to hope for bad weather, for once.

On the other hand, the field looks pretty good on paper, even though many favorites have a question mark regarding their form. A question mark that should dissipate fairly quickly, as already in the first week the GC guys will have to show themselves. We'll see. Less than ten days left :)


Stage 1: Torino - Torino 8.6 km ITT
Stage 2: Stupinigi - Novara 179 km
Stage 3: Biella - Canale 190 km
Stage 4: Piacenza - Sestola 187 km
Stage 5: Modena - Cattolica 177 km
Stage 6: Grotte di Frasassi – Ascoli Piceno (S.Giacomo) 160 km
Stage 7: Notaresco – Termoli 181 km
Stage 8: Foggia – Guardia Sanframondi 170 km
Stage 9: Castel di Sangro – Campo Felice 158 km
Stage 10: L’Aquila – Foligno 139 km
Stage 11: Perugia – Montalcino 162 km
Stage 12: Siena – Bagno di Romagna 212 km
Stage 13: Ravenna – Verona 198 km
Stage 14: Cittadella – Monte Zoncolan 204 km
Stage 15: Grado – Gorizia 147 km
Stage 16: Sacile – Cortina d’Ampezzo 212 km
Stage 17: Canazei – Sega di Ala 193 km
Stage 18: Rovereto – Stradella 232 km
Stage 19: Abbiategrasso – Alpe di Mera 176 km
Stage 20: Verbania – Alpe Motta 165 km
Stage 21: Senago – Milano 30.3 km ITT
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Stage 1: Torino – Torino 8.6 km ITT

Saturday, May 8th, 14.00 CEST



Technical Overview:

The 2021 Giro d'Italia starts with a short individual time trial, as it often did lately. This year the Grande Partenza is in Turin, like just 10 years ago (but that time it was a team TT). The stage starts in front of the Royal Palace and goes mostly along the Po river, crossing it after the intermediate sprint, which comes at km 3.8. The crossing is pretty much the only technical part of the route, as all the rest is made of long and straight roads. A time trial for pure specialists, but being this short it will not make huge gaps.

Final Kilometers


What to expect:

Small differences between the GC guys and a heavyweight to wear pink. Maybe one from the region…


La Mole Antonelliana, Torino
Stage 2: Stupinigi – Novara 179 km

Sunday, May 9th, 12.40 CEST



Technical Overview:

The first road stage of this edition is a very easy flat stage, as it happens way too often. The only somewhat interesting feature of the route will be the first categorized climb of the race, which will assign the first blue jersey. The climb to Montechiaro d’Asti (GPM4, 1.8 km at 5.5%) is almost exactly in the middle of the stage and will surely be contested only by the breakaway.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Montechiaro d’Asti: GPM4, 1.8 km at 5.5%

Just a small climb with a decent gradient. No profile available.

What to expect:

Mass sprint. GC guys will only need to avoid crashes.


Cupola di San Gaudenzio, Novara
Stage 3: Biella – Canale 190 km

Monday, May 10th, 12.20 CEST



Technical Overview:

The last (for now) Piedmont stage is perhaps the most interesting one, although the originally presented route was miles better. Starting in Biella, a town famous in the Giro for being at the foot of the climb to Oropa, the riders will head south through the Po Valley to reach Asti, after which the route will draw a wide clockwise loop to reach the finish, including the first proper climbs of this Giro, situated between the vineyards of the hills of the Langhe area. The first difficulty of the day starts at the first intermediate sprint: the climb of Piancanelli (GPM3, 7.6 km at 4.8%) is very gentle and will do damage only to the heaviest guys. After a somewhat complicated descent there will be a 10 km flat stretch, and after it the road will rise again, with two consecutive climbs. Castino (GPM4, 4.9 at 5.2%) and Manera (GPM4, 5.4 km at 5.4%) should be enough to drop the sprinters, at least, especially since they are separated only by a short descent. This depends on the pace set by the peloton, of course. A very fast descent will lead to another 10 km flat stretch, and then the final climb of the day, which this time is uncategorized: Guarene (2.6 km at 7.1%) is inexplicably an intermediate sprint instead of a GPM. Very disappointingly, it was originally planned to climb a much harder road to reach the town, and subsequently another short climb to cap it off. Those two final climbs have instead been quietly scrapped after the presentation and substituted with this easier version, with a much lower average gradient but that does have a very short steep ramp at the top, at 15 km to go. Of these, the last 11 are flat, with the exception of a small stretch of around 300m at 10% at 5 km to go. I could easily see attacks happening in the original version, while it is not very likely now. A shame.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Piancanelli: GPM3, 7.6 km at 4.8

A climb that starts as very easy but does have good gradients towards the top. No official profile, but we have Cyclingcols.


Castino: GPM4, 4.9 at 5.2%

Not much to say here. It is a pretty steady climb, without big gradients. We also have no profile.

Manera: GPM4, 5.4 km at 5.4%

Again no profile. It does have some decent ramps in the first part, and the gradient gets lower towards the top.

Guarene: 2.6 km at 7.1%

Of course RCS provides an official profile of the one climb they did not categorize. So, here you have it. It is always just below 7%, except for the very final ramp that reaches 15%.


What to expect:

A reduced bunch sprint, or a breakaway if the peloton does not bother. Tomorrow might be a big day so I doubt many people will put an effort today.


Le Langhe
Stage 4: Piacenza – Sestola 186 km

Tuesday, May 11th, 12.05 CEST



Technical Overview:

A very demanding medium mountain stage with likely GC implications. Starting from Piacenza, the riders will head south-east, initially following the Via Emilia until Parma and then heading into the Appennines. After a total of 77 km of flat at the start, the terrain becomes rougher, with a gentle ascent to the intermediate sprint of Canossa, which gives way to a series of small climbs and descents culminating with the first categorized climb of the day, Castello di Carpineti (GPM3, 3.5 km at 8.6%). This is a very steep wall, and will definitely wear some legs down, but it is too far from the finish and too isolated to see any action. Its pretty complicated descent will bring the peloton to 26 km of ascending false flat, followed by the second climb of the day, Montemolino (GPM3, 8.6 km at 5.7%), that features another very steep wall (1.95 km at 11.6%) that this time is closer to the finish, topping at 44 km to go. At the top there is a plateau of 13 km and then a descent of 7 km. At 24 km to go another climb starts, uncategorized: Montecreto (3.7 km at 7.8%), which tops at 20 km to go. At the top there is another plateau of 7 km and a descent of 6 km that ends at the second intermediate sprint of Fanano. There, the riders will face the final climb of the day, which is also the hardest one. Colle Passerino (GPM2, 4.3 km at 9.9%) a very hard climb that might see the first skirmishes for the GC. The top is at 2.5 km to the finish line in Sestola, all on rough terrain.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Castello di Carpineti: GPM3, 3.5 km at 8.6%

A steep wall some double digit gradients. No official profile. Here is Cyclingcols (the first km differs)


Montemolino: GPM3, 8.6 km at 5.7%

First 5 km of very gentle descent, then a short false flat and finally a 2 km wall at 11.6%.


Colle Passerino: GPM2, 4.3 km at 9.9%

The first serious ascent of this Giro, short but really steep, especially in the middle. The road can actually bring even higher, eventually reaching the Passo del Lupo, climbed in 2014 (but not using this road).


What to expect:

The final climb is definitely enough for GC guys to attack each other. Gaps should not be large but the stage has very good potential. With the GC still wide open breakaways might also be a problem to keep in check.


Castello di Carpineti
Stage 6: Grotte di Frasassi – Ascoli Piceno (S.Giacomo) 160 km

Thursday, May 13th, 12.35 CEST



Technical Overview:

The first MTF of the Giro comes in a rather short stage that packs a serious punch for being so early in the race. Starting from the famous Frasassi Caves, the stage will head south inland over some rolling terrain, including a few decent ramps but nothing serious. Then, at km 77, the road will go up to the first categorized climb of the day, a very serious one. Forca di Gualdo (GPM2, 10.4 km at 7.4%) is at the edge of being considered a GPM1, and features a very tough first section, featuring some double-digit gradients. Shame that it is so isolated in the middle of the stage. At the top there is a very short descent that includes the small climb to Castelluccio, slightly over 1 km at 7%, and that leads to the second climb of the day, Forca di Presta (GPM3, 4.8 km at 4.2%). This is unfortunately little more than a false flat, as the only hard ramp is the last 500m at 9%. A long, glorious descent will bring everyone to a 32 km long descending false flat, which would probably kill any attempt made in the previous climbs. This false flat ends directly into the town of Ascoli Piceno, which despite being marked as the finish location is still quite far from the finish, which will be up into the mountains again. S.Giacomo (GPM2, 15.5km at 6.1%) is quite a big MTF, the longest of this edition, in fact. It features a first 10 km section at 5.5% average, before ramping up for the last 5 km at 7.6%.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Forca di Gualdo: GPM2, 10.4 km at 7.4%

A deceptively hard climb, with 3.5 km at 9.2% in the first half.


Forca di Presta: GPM3, 4.8 km at 4.2%

Just a false flat with a tough final km. No official profile, so here is Cyclingcols.


S.Giacomo: GPM2, 15.5km at 6.1%

The longest MTF of this Giro, very easy for the first two thirds but quite demanding in the last.


What to expect:

The first MTF usually does not say much, but there is definitely enough terrain to put up a good show. I do not expect anything to happen before the final climb of course.


Grotte di Frasassi
Stage 7: Notaresco – Termoli 181 km

Friday, May 14th, 12.50 CEST



Technical Overview:

The peloton keeps heading south also on the first Friday of the race, this time on a much easier terrain than the one they saw yesterday. From the town of Notaresco, the riders will head towards the coast and then ride along it for most of the day. The only GPM of this stage is the climb to Chieti (GPM4, 4.7 km at 5.9%), which unlike other years it will be climbed on a very easy side. After that, 40 km of rolling terrain will bring the peloton back to the coast, at about 70 km to go. Of these, only a 15 km section in the middle departs from the sea to go inland for a while before going back. All in all, 55ish km of coast, not a famously windy coast, granted, but nevertheless a coast, all flat, straight, and in most sections fully exposed. Interestingly, just upon reaching Termoli, the riders will encounter a very short ramp (around 150m) at 12%. It comes after a 90-degree turn, so the riders will enter it at low speed, and it might shuffle the peloton enough to make the outcome unpredictable even in case of mass sprint.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Chieti: GPM4, 4.7 km at 5.9%

Not the usual wall into Chieti, but a much simpler ascent without double-digit gradients. No official profile.

What to expect:

A mass sprint, unless there is crosswind, in which case it could be madness. Pray for wind. I don’t believe the short bump at the end will see any action, but it should derail the sprint trains and maybe produce a surprising result.


Borgo Antico, Termoli
Stage 8: Foggia – Guardia Sanframondi 170 km

Saturday, May 15th, 12.40 CEST



Technical Overview:

A transitional stage in the southern Appennines. From the city of Foggia, the peloton will cross the mountains east to west. The first climb of the day is uncategorized (4.5km at 5.4%), and it comes after 30 km of flat roads. The route then goes through about 60 km of rolling terrain, including the first intermediate sprint to Campobasso, that is on quite a sizable slope of 4 km at 5%. This terrain ends at 70 km to go, where the road starts pointing up to the first categorized climb of the day: Bocca della Selva (GPM2, 18.9 km at 4.6%), a very gentle but long climb. It tops at 50 km to go, and its descent, much more interesting than the climb, is 18 km long, ending at 32 km to go. Here the peloton will find 21 km of descending false flat until 11 km to go, where the road starts ascending again slightly until the second intermediate sprint of Castelvenere, where the false flat starts rising steadily until the beginning of the final climb, at 3 km to go. Guardia Sanframondi (GPM4, 3 km at 6.9%) does include decent ramps, and features 2.5 km at 7.6% before the final flattish 500m.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Bocca della Selva: GPM2, 18.9 km at 4.6%

A long climb with some good gradients only in the second half.


Guardia Sanframondi: GPM4, 3 km at 6.9%

Quite an interesting uphill finish. See the final kilometers for a profile.

What to expect:

This has breakaway written all over it. The GC guys could try to gain a few seconds on each other in the uphill finish, it is hard enough to see something.


Guardia Sanframondi
Stage 9: Castel di Sangro – Campo Felice 158 km

Sunday, May 16th, 12.15 CEST



Technical Overview:

A short mountain stage full of climbs, without almost any flat but also any steep slope. The stage starts in Castel di Sangro and quickly heads north into the mountains, firstly going over the false flat to Colle della Croce (7.9 km at 3.3%). After a brief descent, the riders will find the first categorized climb of the stage, Passo Godi (GPM2, 13.9 km at 4.1%), inexplicably a second category. Its descent is very long and starts as quite technical, before becoming a false flat in the second half. It leads directly to the next climb, Fonte Ciarlotto (11.6 km at 4.9%), that despite being uncategorized (why??? Look at Passo Godi!) features a pretty decent initial section of 4.2 km at 6.8%. A very fast descent and the peloton will hit another climb, Forca Caruso (GPM3, 12.7 km at 4.5%). This is a steady and gentle climb like almost all others today. Its descent is little more than a false flat and brings to yet another climb pretty much identical to the others. Ovindoli (GPM2, 12.4 km at 5.1%) officially starts from the first intermediate sprint of Celano, but the road goes uphill with pretty much the same gradients already 5 km before it. It tops at 23 km to go. The first 12.5 are on a plateau, slightly descending. Then, after the small bump to reach Rocca di Cambio, the last climb: Campo Felice (GPM1, 6 km at 6%). This is a very unassuming climb until 1.6 km to go, where the route goes off road to basically climb a ski track on the sterrato, with very irregular slopes and a maximum gradient of 14%.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Passo Godi: GPM2, 13.9 km at 4.1%

Very easy climb, never over 5% gradient. Cyclingcols profile:


Forca Caruso: GPM3, 12.7 km at 4.5%

Again, very easy. It does go over 5% at the end though. Still props to Cyclingcols:


Ovindoli: GPM2, 12.4 km at 5.1%

Here we finally have an official profile. This climb is marginally harder than the previous ones.


Campo Felice: GPM1, 6 km at 6%

A climb that starts with all the characteristics of the rest of the stage, before unexpectedly throwing a ski track in the mix.


What to expect:

The final uphill finish should be fun, but the rest of the stage will only be useful to reduce the size of the peloton. And not by much, sadly.


Campo Felice
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Stage 10: L’Aquila – Foligno 139 km

Monday, May 17th, 13.40 CEST



Technical Overview:

The shortest stage of this edition, a bland transitional stage on a Monday, with a rest day ahead. Very weird. Starting from L’Aquila, the breakaway will have a good chance to breakaway immediately on the first uncategorized climb of Sella di Corno (7km at 4%) and on its long descent. It is followed by a 35 km long flat section, that then gives way to some more demanding terrain. The uncategorized climb of Montefranco (3.2 km at 5.2%) leads to the only categorized climb of the day, Valico della Somma (GPM4, 6.7 km at 5%), whose descent brings back to the flat roads, this time for good, with the last 30 km being pan flat. These also include the second intermediate sprint of the stage, that might be interesting if the breakaway has already been reeled in.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Valico della Somma: GPM4, 6.7 km at 5%

No profile. It does have some decent 6% ramps in the middle, but nothing major.

What to expect:

I would expect a sizable breakaway to get the stage uncontested. However, if the sprinters realize they have only one more sprint stage after this in the whole Giro, they might not want to waste it.


Duomo di Foligno
Stage 11: Perugia – Montalcino 162 km

Wednesday, May 19th, 12.55 CEST



Technical Overview:

The Giro comes back to Montalcino and its white roads, 11 years after one of the most iconic stages of all times, that contributed to put the Strade Bianche on the map for many casual spectators. Many things have changed since then, and the Giro has shied away from proposing a proper sterrato stage since 2011. Finally, we are back, and I am pleased to report that this stage is significantly tougher than the 2010 one (weather notwithstanding), albeit a bit too short. The stage starts in Perugia and heads west to the shore of the Trasimeno lake, which the riders hit and leave on their right side along wide and flat roads, a rather uneventful section of 43 km. After reaching the town of Chiusi, the road will become much more irregular, going through some demanding terrain that does not however include any notable climb, until the peloton hits the village of Torrenieri, already in Montalcino’s territory. From here on, the riders will face a total of 35.2 km of white roads, quite a lot more than in 2010 (when they were 19.5). The first sector starting in Torrenieri, at 69 km to go, is 9.1 km long and features a slightly ascending first half and a slightly more descending second half. Here the gradient (both positive and negative) will rarely reach just 5%, but the peloton will still be at full strength, so positioning will be crucial and things might get spicy. At the end of the sector there is an 8 km stretch of asphalt that includes a small uncategorized climb, Bibbiano (1.2 km at 7.8%). Here we are already on the same route of the 2010 stage, which included a different first sector that led to this same stretch. Now the road will follow that route to reach sector 2, Castiglione del Bosco, the most important one, which starts at 53.2 km to go. It is 13.5 km long, starts with a 2 km descent (with a pretty steep first km) and then ramps up to the Passo del Lume Spento (GPM3, 13 km at 3.6%). This was called Poggio Civitella in 2010, but this year they have placed the GPM at a slightly higher altitude (600m vs 585m), which I guess is enough of a reason to use a different name. The climb starts with a 5 km section at 7% average featuring some very steep ramps (max 15%), all on sterrato with the exception of 800m of tarmac in the middle at the intermediate sprint. After this section the road flattens and becomes a plateau of 6.1 km, again on sterrato, before a final tarmac ramp of 1 km brings the peloton to the GPM, which lies at 37.4 km to go. Of these, the first three are spent to reach Montalcino, but the riders will not enter the town and go to the finish line (like they did in 2010), but instead will descend further towards the second intermediate sprint of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, for a total of 11.5 km of a very fast and fairly simple descent. Here, at 26 km to go, sector 3 starts. 7.5 km long, it has a first part of 4.3 km flat and easy, before a 1 km ramp at 7% and 2.2 km of slightly ascending false flat. It is of course nowhere near as hard as sector 2, but it should still do significant damage. It ends at about 16 km to go, leading to a 3.7 km descent on a wide road. Finally, at 13.6 km to go, sector 4 starts. It is only 5 km long, it begins with 600 m of flattish terrain, a 1.2 km ramp at 8.1% and then flattens out for the remaining 3.2 km. It ends at 8.6 km to go, but the fun is not over yet: the riders still have to face another climb to Passo del Lume Spento (GPM3, 9.3 km at 4.6%), this time on full tarmac - the official numbers also include the sterrato section, while the tarmac road is 4.8 km at 6.5%, including 2 km at 9.1%. The top is at 3.8 km to go, first descending and then traversing the narrow streets of Montalcino, with the finish on a steep ramp, same as in 2010.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Passo del Lume Spento #1: GPM3, 13 km at 3.6%

Risen to fame in 2010 with the name of Poggio Civitella, this beautiful climb features almost no tarmac at all, with a very steep first section and a long plateau at the top, before a final 900m ramp on tarmac to reach the top. The Passo del Lume Spento technically refers to a pass a few hundred meters off the road they are taking. Its name (literally “Pass of the Waned Light”) is apparently due to the strong wind at the top, that in the old days would often kill the lamps of the passing carriages.


Passo del Lume Spento #2: GPM3, 9.3 km at 4.6%

The second climb to the pass, this time from south instead of from north-west, does have a lot more tarmac. The sterrato section has a very short climb followed by flat, while the second half is on tarmac and features a steep ramp followed by some irregular terrain before connecting to the other side and climbing the same final stretch to the pass.


What to expect:

This might very well the defining stage of this Giro. If it rains it will be a massacre, but even with good weather the potential is enormous. The peloton will be shattered by the first two sectors, and from there on we will have to see if the strongest guys want to force the issue. Luckily there are a few GC guys who have demonstrated to be very good on this kind of roads, so they should really exploit this opportunity. But even if there is no will to fight, mechanicals, crashes and whatnot might still make the race blow up.


Carrara – Montalcino, May 15th, 2010
Stage 12: Siena – Bagno di Romagna 212 km

Thursday, May 20th, 11.20 CEST



Technical Overview:

A very tough medium mountain stage, of the kind that should be more common in a GT. The start is in Siena, and the first 70 km pass through some rolling terrain all the way to Firenze and the neighbouring town of Sesto Fiorentino, where the first intermediate sprint is placed and the first climb starts. Monte Morello (GPM3, 7.6 km at 6.6%) is a short but quite serious climb, that should deserve more than a third category, especially considering its 2.5km section at 11.2%, including a passage at 19%. At the top there is a long plateau of about 15 km, before a very fast descent brings everyone down again. From there, little more than 10 km and the road rise again, heading to the other side of the Appennines. The Passo della Consuma (GPM2, 17.1 km at 5.7%) is a long climb, with good gradients especially in the first half and on a small steep section towards the end. The descent is again very fast and on quite a wide road, so it should not present any issue to the riders. Straight after it, the peloton will hit another climb, the Passo della Calla (GPM2, 15.3 km at 5.5%), another long one, but more constant in its gradient than the previous one. The top is at 48 km to go. This time the descent, 12 km long, is pretty technical. At the bottom there is a 15 km descending false flat until the town of Santa Sofia, the second intermediate sprint and start of the final climb of the day, which should be the decisive one. The Passo del Carnaio (GPM3, 10.8 km at 5.1%) is a serious climb, despite its average gradient that is affected by its false flat section near the top. In particular, the climb offers a central section of 3 km at 9.5%, ending at 4.8 km to the top and 14 to the finish line. The pass itself tops at 9.4 km to go, of which about 5 km consist of a descent of a certain difficulty and 4 km of flat to the reach Bagno di Romagna.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Monte Morello: GPM3, 7.6 km at 6.6%

A short climb with a very demanding section of 2.5 km at 11.2% surrounded by false flats.


Passo della Consuma: GPM2, 17.1 km at 5.7%

A long climb with some tough ramps, especially a 2 km section at over 8.5% in the middle.


Passo della Calla: GPM2, 15.3 km at 5.5%

A long and steady climb, with its highest gradients in the second half.


Passo del Carnaio: GPM3, 10.8 km at 5.1%

Very irregular, with a tough central section of 3 km at 9.5% in between two short descents. It should do a lot of damage, considering the steepness and the short distance to the finish.


What to expect:

Depending on how much damage the Montalcino stage has done, this stage could see a lot of action also by GC guys. Breakaways will also be hard to keep in check. The stage is long and if legs are tired it should not be hard to force a big selection on the last climb.


Piazza del Campo, Siena
Stage 13: Ravenna – Verona 198 km

Friday, May 21st, 12.25 CEST



Technical Overview:

The last chance for the sprinters is a 198 km long stage traversing the Po Valley from the Adriatic coast in Ravenna to the foot of the Alps in Verona. The stage is dedicated to the great Dante Alighieri (who lived in exile in Verona and died exactly 700 years ago in Ravenna), although it is kind of laughable to do so without a stage start/finish in Florence, only briefly touched yesterday.

Final Kilometers


What to expect:

Mass sprint. The last one. All sprinters to go home unless they have the Ciclamino jersey and want to keep it.


Arena di Verona
Stage 14: Cittadella – Monte Zoncolan 204 km

Saturday, May 22nd, 11.30 CEST



Technical Overview:

The Alps start with a straightforward MTF and the first real all-out showdown between the climbers. From the town of Cittadella the peloton will head north-east towards the Friuli region. After the first climb of the day to Castello di Caneva (GPM4, 3.4 km at 3.8%), the riders will keep the mountains on their left side for about 50 km, and then finally head straight into them, turning north and climbing Forcella di Monte Rest (GPM2, 10.5 km at 5.9%). The descent is very technical, but it leads to a 30 km long valley that will not help any attacker. Finally, after reaching the town of Sutrio, the final climb of the stage will start. Monte Zoncolan (GPM1, 14.1 km at 8.5%) from the Sutrio side has only been climbed once, in 2003. It was in fact the first time the Zoncolan had been raced at all. This side is nowhere near as hard as the others, but it is still a really hard climb, with 8.7 km at 8.3%, followed by a 1.5 km long respite at 4% before the killer final ramp of 3.1 km at 13%, with various crazy ramps reaching up to 27%.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Castello di Caneva: GPM4, 3.4 km at 3.8%

Just a small bump. No profile.

Forcella di Monte Rest: GPM2, 10.5 km at 5.9%

A solid climb, with gradients always around 6-7% with the exception of a small section in the beginning and in the end.


Monte Zoncolan: GPM1, 14.1 km at 8.5%

The “original” Zoncolan, climbed for the first and only time in 2003, with victory by Gilberto Simoni. It is much easier than the Ovaro side, which has been used ever since. The last 3 km are sick though.


What to expect:

A big GC battle on the first hard climb of this Giro. Unfortunately, that huge final section might prevent significant attacks to be launched before it, but in any case gaps should be large.


Stage 15: Grado – Gorizia 147 km

Sunday, May 23rd, 13.15 CEST



Technical Overview:

The Giro passes through Slovenia for a rather tame stage, considering this is the penultimate Sunday. Starting in Grado, at the edge of the Marano Lagoon, the peloton will cross the lagoon on a bridge and then head north into the inland, traversing mostly pan flat roads with the exception of the small climb to Monte San Michele, little more than a false flat. Soon after the first intermediate sprint in Mariano del Friuli, the riders will enter a circuit to be repeated three times. The circuit enters Slovenia and climbs the only categorized climb of the day, Gornje Cerovo (GPM4, 1.7 km at 8.5%), a short but pretty steep wall. It is followed by a 6 km false flat and a short descent heading west before the road gets back to Italy, only to do everything again, as I mentioned, two more times. After the GPM on the last lap (topping at 16.5 km to go), the riders will change direction and descent to Italy from a shorter route, heading east this time, towards Gorizia. Here the road will go one more time into Slovenia, to visit the Slovenian version of Gorizia, Nova Gorica. Here they will have the second intermediate sprint and then a small climb of 1 km at 5.9%, topping at 3 km to go. One km of descent will then bring the peloton back to Italy and to the finish line in Gorizia itself.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Gornje Cerovo: GPM4, 1.7 km at 8.5%

A steep wall with a 15% maximum gradient.


What to expect:

This stage will probably not be contested by the peloton, considering what is in store for tomorrow. The breakaway will take it and the battle between the fugitives on the final climb(s) should be fun, but without any GC implication.


Castello di Gorizia
Stage 16: Sacile – Cortina d’Ampezzo 212 km

Monday, May 24th, 10.50 CEST



Technical Overview:

The queen stage of this Giro comes on a Monday, rather unusually. A long and proper dolomitic stage going over classic climbs, as it was missing since 2016. Starting from Sacile, the riders will encounter the first climb of the day after only 10 km. La Crosetta (GPM1, 11.6 km at 7.1%) is a tough climb, quite long but steady. It should be perfect to see a hard battle to get into the breakaway. At the top the riders will find a plateau of 8 km, before a very fast descent, on a wide road and with very few technical sections, will bring them back to the Piave valley. Here they will head north-west, deep into the Dolomites but for now only following the Cordevole valley for about 70 km, all slightly ascending. Along this valley they will hit the first intermediate sprint in Agordo, at km 91, after which they will keep heading north to reach the foot of the Marmolada massif, in Caprile, at km 114. Here starts one of the most famous climbs in Italy, due to both its toughness and its beauty, well before it became a meme on this forum: the mythical Passo Fedaia (GPM1, 14 km at 7.6%). It is a climb that can be divided into three sections. The first section is the easiest, with very irregular slopes mixed with false flats. Here the peloton will find the second intermediate sprint in Rocca Pietore, and on this section the peloton would usually use a small old road that goes through the gorge of Sottoguda, probably the prettiest place cycling has ever visited. Sadly, the road was wrecked by a flood a few years ago, and the road has not been fully repaired yet, which means the peloton will ride above the gorge, on the modern road. Profile-wise it barely makes any difference, but scenery-wise it cannot even be compared. The second section of the climb starts at 5.5km from the top and is just as iconic as the gorge: the road turns right and becomes a crazy steep straight, 2.5 km long at almost 12%. Well ok, it is not totally straight, there are a few half-bends in the middle, but mostly straight. Finally, the last section is made of 3 km of hairpins, always just over 10%. At the top there is a 2.5 km plateau along a lake, and then a short but pretty technical descent that brings to the town of Canazei, directly at the beginning of the Cima Coppi of this edition. Passo Pordoi (Cima Coppi, 11.8 km at 6.8%) is not a particularly glamorous or hard climb, but even so is a very classic and famous one. It holds the record for being Cima Coppi more times than any other climb: this will be the 14th time. However, it is interesting to note that it has not been Cima Copy since 2002, almost 20 years ago. The climb itself is very regular, without any hard ramps, and still very pretty to look at, just not as much as Fedaia. The descent is very technical and might be an important point of the race. Unfortunately it leads to an irregular stretch 11.5 km long, including a 1 km ramp at 7% and a subsequent descent that bring to the uncategorized Colle S.Lucia (2 km at 7.2%). Here, a 3.5 km descent will bring the riders to the last and decisive climb of the day, the famous Passo Giau (GPM1, 9.9 km at 9.3%). It is a very constant climb, with gradients always around 9% all the time. The top of Giau is at 16.5 km to the finish, and its descent, fairly technical, is 14.5 km long. The last 2 km go into the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, which will host the winter Olympics in 2026. They are mostly flat, but the road does pick up the gradient at the end, with the home stretch being at about 5%.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

La Crosetta: GPM1, 11.6 km at 7.1%

A solid climb without particularly hard gradients. The plateau at the top, known as Cansiglio, has been rumoured since years to be involved in a stage, and finally the locals have gotten one.


Passo Fedaia: GPM1, 14 km at 7.6%

It has been 1000 years… well, 10, but still too many. It is since the stage to Gardeccia 2011 that Fedaia (also known as Marmolada) has not been featured in the Giro. Meanwhile, the Canyon of Sottoguda has been wrecked by a flood, and who knows when it will be ready again to host a race. Canyon or not, this climb has almost always seen some great action in the past. This year it will be unlikely, but we can still hope. This will be the 15th time the Giro passes here, the first time being in 1975.


Passo Pordoi: Cima Coppi, 11.8 km at 6.8%

The most frequent Cima Coppi of all (13 times out of 35 total passages), by virtue of being the highest peak in an area very often traversed by the Giro. Besides the (not even that crazy) altitude, it is quite an unassuming climb, with steady gradients but with a stunning scenery at the top. It was featured in the Giro for the first time in 1940, with Gino Bartali himself going first over the top.


Passo Giau: GPM1, 9.9 km at 9.3%

Another mythical climb, with consistently high gradients all the way up. Missing in the Giro since 2016. It will only be the 9th time the Giro passes here. The first time was in 1973, with José Manuel Fuente reaching the top first.


What to expect:

It is the queen stage, expectations will be high. The false flats between Pordoi and S.Lucia could be a problem though. Fedaia is way too far from the finish to see attacks from the big favourites, but maybe second-tier GC guys could light it up early. The breakaway composition will be extremely important, as domestiques might try to sneak into it and help possible early attacks by the captains on Fedaia or especially Pordoi. If nothing of the sort occurs, it will be just a war of attrition until the Giau, that will decide the stage. Either way I doubt this stage will be totally decisive for the GC, as there are still many mountains to come.


Serrai di Sottoguda, Passo Fedaia
Stage 17: Canazei – Sega di Ala 193 km

Wednesday, May 26th, 12.00 CEST



Technical Overview:

After the final rest day, a very demanding stage featuring the hardest 2-climb combo of this Giro. Starting from Canazei, where the peloton passed two days ago, the riders will go down along the whole Val di Fassa, almost 55 km of descending false flat. At the end of the valley they will hit the first climb of the day, Sveseri (GPM3, 2.9 km at 9.7%), a short and steep climb that might see some action if the breakaway isn’t established yet. From the top the road starts slightly descending again, eventually becoming a real descent of around 20 km that leads to the city of Trento, where the first intermediate sprint is located. From here on the stage follows the Adige river, with almost 50 km of flat terrain, including the second intermediate sprint in Mori. After reaching the town of Avio, the final combo will begin by climbing Passo San Valentino (GPM1, 14.8 km at 7.8%). This is a hard and long climb, with consistent ramps, especially in the middle section. The top is at 38 km to go, including almost 18 km of a very technical descent that ends at 20 km to go, on the same valley and same road the riders come from. Here they will simply keep riding again in the same direction towards Avio, but this time, after 8.6 km, they will instead turn left and tackle the last climb of the day, which is probably the hardest of this whole edition. Sega di Ala (GPM1, 11.2 km at 9.8%) has never been raced in the Giro, the only time it has been raced professionally being the 2013 Giro del Trentino. It is an irregular and grueling climb, that mixes false flats with double digit ramps often, particularly in its second half. And since its average gradient is 9.5%, those steep sections must be really steep indeed. The stage will finish at the village of Sega di Ala just like in 2013, although the climb goes even further up for 3 more km to the Passo Fittanze della Sega. It is a bit of a shame that they will not do the full climb… those last three km have gentle slopes and that would require riders to attack farther away from the finish. Maybe one day.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Sveseri: GPM3, 2.9 km at 9.7%

A pretty steep short climb on a wide road. No profile available.

Passo San Valentino: GPM1, 14.8 km at 7.8%

Long and hard, with a very tough section of 8 km at almost 9%. It will do damage.


Sega di Ala: GPM1, 11.2 km at 9.8%

A new climb for the Giro, only raced once in the Giro del Trentino 2013, won by Nibali and featuring an impressive bike toss by Sir Wiggins. It is a terrific climb, that starts with a relatively regular gradient but then becomes very messy in the second half. The last two km are the easiest of the whole climb, so attacks better come before…


What to expect:

Mayhem at the start to get into the breakaway and mayhem on the final climb. I believe a solo attack on San Valentino is not possible, but a team action or an alliance would definitely work. The same goes for the descent. Whatever happens, it will be everyone by themselves on the last climb.


Stage 18: Rovereto – Stradella 232 km

Thursday, May 27th, 11.35 CEST



Technical Overview:

The longest stage of the Giro is, like last year, a transitional stage in the final week. Unlike last year’s stage to Asti, however, this stage has good potential with an extremely interesting finale. The finale itself has been changed after the presentation, when it was nothing special, in sort of the opposite way they did to stage 3. The stage starts in Rovereto and proceeds west for around 200 km through the Po Valley, without any notable difficulty. At km 196 the flat roads end for good, and what comes after it are 35 km without any respite along the vineyards, although also without steep ramps. The first climb of the day is uncategorized, Montu’ Beccaria (3.4 km at 4.1%), little more than a false flat but it is only the beginning. A short and twisty descent leads directly to the only categorized climb of this stage, Castana (GPM4, 5 km at 4.2%). Once again, the descent is short and twisty and might cause splits in the peloton if a team puts the hammer down. The third climb is the shortest and steepest of the day, Cicognola (1.4 km at 7.5%), and its descent brings to the intermediate sprint of Broni and the foot of the final climb. Canneto Pavese (2.6 km at 5.7%). The top is at 6 km to go, 3 km of descent and 3 of flat and straight roads to the finish.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Castana: GPM4, 5 km at 4.2%

Hard to understand why this climb is the only categorized one of the stage. No profile obviously.

What to expect:

I would expect the breakaway to battle it out, considering this stage is sandwiched between four mountain stages. If the peloton wants to bother (and if the riders do not strike in case of rain…) the finale is perfect for an attacker or at the very least a Sanremo-style resolution.


Stage 19: Abbiategrasso – Alpe di Mera 176 km

Friday, May 28th, 12.10 CEST



Technical Overview:

Another hard MTF in a Giro that certainly does not lack any of them. Starting from Abbiategrasso the peloton goes back to Piedmont, where it all started three weeks ago, for a fourth stage, this time in the mountains. The first 70 km are completely flat, heading north to reach the Lago d’Orta, a relatively small lake if compared to its immediate neighbour Lago Maggiore, which the riders will encounter soon enough. Before it, however, they will have to face the first climb of the day, the famous Mottarone (GPM1, 15.4 km at 6.7%), which last featured in the Giro exactly 10 years ago, in 2011. It is a tough and irregular climb, with a steep central section. Its descent is very technical, and it is a shame that such a good climb is relegated to be in a rather unfortunate position in the stage, very far from the finish and with long valleys before the next climbs, just like in 2011. The descent brings directly to the shore of Lago Maggiore, where the riders will find 18 km of false flat, partly along the lake and partly looping back around the hills to go back to Lago d’Orta. Here, after the intermediate sprint in Omegna, the route starts heading deeper into the mountains with the Passo della Colma (GPM3, 7.5 km at 6.4%), the easiest climb of the day, still presenting some good slopes. The descent, again pretty technical but on a much wider road than the one of Mottarone, brings into the Valsesia, a narrow valley which the riders will ride for 18 km before climbing again for the final climb of the day, Alpe di Mera (GPM1, 9.7 km at 9%). It is a consistent climb, with slightly increasing gradients that reach a maximum at around 3 km to go.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Mottarone: GPM1, 15.4 km at 6.7%

An irregular climb with a tough central section. Raced last time in 2011, on the way to Macugnaga.


Passo della Colma: GPM3, 7.5 km at 6.4%

A short climb with good slopes but nothing out of the ordinary.


Alpe di Mera: GPM1, 9.7 km at 9%

Never raced before, it is a tough climb, with a second half regularly above 10%


What to expect:

The GC battle will be limited to the final climb, which is hard enough to produce serious gaps but there should be no catastrophes. The only option to shake things up would be a team action on Mottarone, but I doubt anyone would take any risks today.


Lago Maggiore
Stage 20: Verbania – Alpe Motta 165 km

Saturday, May 29th, 12.20 CEST



Technical Overview:

As usual, stage 20 is the last chance for the climbers. From Verbania the peloton will head into Switzerland along Lake Maggiore (passing through the first intermediate sprint in Cannobio) and enter the Italian speaking Canton of Ticino and then into the Grisons. There, after a total of 80 km of flat terrain, they will begin climbing the first climb of the day, and it is a big one: the Passo S.Bernardino (GPM1, 23.7 km at 6.2%) a huge climb that can be divided into three sections, separated by small flat or descending stretches that lower the average gradient. The first section is 7 km at 8%, ending at the village of Pian San Giacomo. The second section is 6.5 km at 7.4%, ending at the village of S. Bernardino, which gives the name to the pass. Finally, the third section is 6.7 km at 6.7%, ending at the top, with a flat stretch along a lake before the descent. The descent itself is very technical but it is much shorter than the climb, with only 7 km, ending in the valley of the Hinterrhein (the “posterior” Rhein), one of the two “parents” of the Rhein river. The riders will follow the flow of the river for just 12 km before crossing the mountains again to get back to Italy via the Splügenpass/Passo Spluga (GPM1, 8.9 km at 7.3%), which from this side is a decent but not particularly tough climb, which tops at 29 km to go. It is an absolute beast on the Italian side, which the riders will instead descend (again a very technical descent), although not all the way down. In fact, at 9 km to go in the town of Campodolcino, the peloton will take a secondary road to climb back up again towards the town of Madesimo, where the second intermediate sprint is situated (at 2.4 km to go…), and then to the finish line at the Alpe Motta (GPM1, 7.3 km at 7.6%), whose average gradient would be around 8.5% if we ignore the one flat km in Madesimo. Here gaps will be big only if someone has attacked on the previous climbs.

Final Kilometers


The Climbs:

Passo S.Bernardino: GPM1, 23.7 km at 6.2%

Situated entirely in Switzerland, it lies on the language boundary between Italian and German. It takes its name from the village of S.Bernardino, on its southern side, which in turn takes its name from a chapel dedicated to Saint Bernardino. For this reason, it is called this way also in German (San-Bernardino-Pass), rather unusually. The “Italian” side is a very long and hard climb, that will surely be felt by the riders’ legs.


Splügenpass/Passo Spluga: GPM1, 8.9 km at 7.3%

Situated on the Italo-Swiss border, it is also on the language boundary, just like the S.Bernardino. There is a town named Splügen at the bottom of the north side, but this time the name seems to be just a common toponym in the area, coming from the latin word Speluca, meaning cave.


Alpe Motta: GPM1, 7.3 km at 7.6%

The last climb of this Giro is quite a steep and short one, with gradients almost always above 8% and a with a small respite in Madesimo for the intermediate sprint.


What to expect:

As it is the last chance for the climbers, it depends on the GC situation. If someone has time to recover and has the legs for it, this stage is perfect for long range attacks. Maybe not on S.Bernardino, which is a bit too far from the finish, but definitely on the Splügenpass. Descents might also be a good spot for attacks. Whatever happens though, the Giro will not be over yet.


Passo San Bernardino
Stage 21: Senago – Milano 30.3 km ITT

Sunday, May 30th, 13.35 CEST



Technical Overview:

The final stage of the Giro is, as usual recently, an ITT, but this time it is the only “long” one, like it happened last time in 2012. From Senago to Milano, the road will always be pan flat, but it will not be straight all the way. The route is divided into three parts by the two intermediate checkpoints, in Cascina Battiloca (km 9.2) and Sesto San Giovanni (km 18.8). Of these three sectors the last one is the most power-friendly, featuring long straights with turns only at the end into the city center, to get to the usual finish line in front of the Duomo.

Final Kilometers


What to expect:

It is a time trial for pure specialists in a Giro that barely has any time trials… Gaps should be fairly consistent but it all depends on how the GC looks like coming into the stage.


Duomo di Milano
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