• The Cycling News forum is looking to add some volunteer moderators with Red Rick's recent retirement. If you're interested in helping keep our discussions on track, send a direct message to @SHaines here on the forum, or use the Contact Us form to message the Community Team.

    In the meanwhile, please use the Report option if you see a post that doesn't fit within the forum rules.


Giro d'Italia Giro d'Italia 2024: Stage-by-stage analysis

It’s here!

The forum isn’t the forum without the Giro stage-by-stage analysis, and with Eshnar having stepped down there was only the next-best option: doing it myself. I hope I’ve managed a level of quality similar to what we’ve all grown used to, but you can be the judge of that.

Unfortunately, I’ve picked what seems like an absolute nadir to take over. After one bad and one abysmal edition, the race desperately needs a return to form if it is to avoid a second dark age. However, with the weakest mountains since the original dark age and about the worst possible GC lineup, the deck is firmly stacked against it. Can this Giro overcome the odds and deliver anyway, or will it be the Pogcession most of us are dreading?


DayStageStartFinishRatingDistanceStarts atETA
Sat 41Venaria RealeTorino***140.0k13:5517:05 – 17:26
Sun 52San Francesco al CampoSantuario di Oropa (Biella)***161.0k13:0516:59 – 17:27
Mon 63NovaraFossano**166.0k13:2517:02 – 17:22
Tue 74Acqui TermeAndora**190.0k12:3517:00 – 17:28
Wed 85GenovaLucca***179.0k13:0017:02 – 17:28
Thu 96Torre del Lago Puccini (Viareggio)Rapolano Terme**180.0k12:5517:00 – 17:26
Fri 107FolignoPerugia****40.6k (ITT)13:0017:09
Sat 118SpoletoPrati di Tivo*****152.0k12:4516:57 – 17:33
Sun 129AvezzanoNapoli***214.0k12:1517:00 – 17:29
Tue 1410PompeiCusano Mutri (Bocca della Selva)***142.0k13:1516:58 – 17:27
Wed 1511Foiano di Val FortoreFrancavilla al Mare**207.0k12:1516:57 – 17:26
Thu 1612MartinsicuroFano***193.0k12:3016:59 – 17:28
Fri 1713RiccioneCento*179.0k13:1017:04 – 17:26
Sat 1814Castiglione delle StiviereDesenzano del Garda***31.4k13:2017:09
Sun 1915Manerba del GardaLivigno (Mottolino)*****222.0k10:4016:47 – 17:40
Tue 2116LivignoSanta Cristina Valgardena / St. Christina in Gröden (Monte Pana)****202.0k11:3516:51 – 17:35
Wed 2217Selva di Val Gardena / Wolkenstein in GrödenPasso Brocon*****159.0k12:3016:53 – 17:31
Thu 2318Fiera di PrimieroPadova**178.0k13:1017:02 – 17:24
Fri 2419MorteglianoSappada***157.0k13:1016:59 – 17:26
Sat 2520AlpagoBassano di Grappa*****184.0k11:5016:54 – 17:39
Sun 2621Roma (EUR)Roma*125.0k15:3518:33 – 18:52
Stage 1: Venaria Reale – Torino, 140.0k

Just like in 2011, the Grande Partenza connects Venaria Reale and Turin, the summer residence of the House of Savoy and its capital. However, that’s where the similarities between the two end, and I’m not just talking about this stage. The Grande Partenza itself, however, is very much an upgrade over 2011: instead of a TTT, we have a mid-mountain stage that forms the toughest Giro opening day in living memory.

The route


The starting location is one of glories past, both inside and outside our sport. It was commissioned in the late 16th century by the House of Savoy, who at the time controlled Piedmont, Aosta, Nice and its original Savoyard territory in the French Alps, then greatly expanded in the early 17th century as the House sought (like so many others at the time) to emulate Versailles. Venaria Reale fell into disuse well before its monarchs became rulers of Italy and moved to Rome, though, as it was transferred to the military following major damage incurred during the Napoleonic Wars. In the Giro, it was last seen in 2018, as the start of the legendary Finestre stage.


The first hour is spent traversing the Po floodplain, then the riders enter the Collina Torinese, around which the stage is centered. The first KOM of the day, Berzano di San Pietro (2.6k at 5.8%), is also the easiest.


Next up is the intermediate sprint (the one for the points classification – we now have three separate kinds of intermediate sprints, because that totally isn’t confusing to the average viewer), then it’s time to head to Superga. This is not the hard side that used to be the MTF of Milano-Torino until that race was castrated, but rather the variant used in its 2000s iteration. Despite that, I can’t find a profile of this side – its overall stats of 7.1k at 8.8% are unimpressive, but the climb is rather irregular. The first 4.5 kilometres, containing all the harder parts, match the profile below.


The descent takes us into Revigliasco, where we join the final circuit for 1.5 laps. A flattish section takes us into Torino, with the Intergiro sprint on Corso Moncalieri, before the route turns into the hills once more for the first of two ascents of San Vito (profile later on). After passing through the finish line for the first time, it’s immediately time for the final KOM of the day, Colle Maddalena. This side easily trumps the one used in the 2022 Torino stage in terms of length and elevation gain, but doesn’t share its monster ramps. Two false flats mask the climb’s true difficulty: the majority is over 8%.


A moderately technical descent takes us back to Revigliasco and from there, it’s all familiar terrain. The bonus second sprint is in Moncalieri itself, just a few kilometres further from the line than the Intergiro one was. And then, it’s time for the final time up San Vito. It’s a climb not dissimilar to Redoute that totally wasn’t inserted after the presentation to get Pogacar to wear pink as soon as possible. The ensuing descent lasts until past the flamme rouge.



Originally founded by the Romans, Torino gained influence after the Duchy of Savoy moved its capital there in the 16th century. The aforementioned development of the Duchy into a kingdom that conquered/reunified all of Italy helped it prosper, but of course eventually cost it its status as capital. Despite this, unification was not unkind to the city, with the construction of the Fréjus tunnel and development of the Italian car industry (centred here until this day) ensuring its status as one of the country’s foremost cities. Its subsequent history has been turbulent at times – a fascist massacre of the labour movement shortly after Mussolini’s coup d’état, Allied bombing in WWII, economic turmoil due to the oil crisis in the 70s and 80s hitting its car industry – but it remains an important centre – not just economically and culturally, but also in sports, having hosted the Winter Olympics in 2006 and being home to Serie A record champions in Juventus. In cycling, it hosted the finish of the sport’s oldest race in Milano-Torino until very recently. It has also seen the Giro twice in the past three years already, with Ganna taking the opening TT in 2021 and Simon Yates winning the last great Giro stage the year after.


What to expect?

A significant selection on Maddalena that will see perhaps 50 riders survive, then almost certainly GC action on San Vito with strong potential for a Pogacar solo victory.
Last edited:
Stage 2: San Francesco al Campo – Santuario di Oropa (Biella), 161.0k

The second stage is the venue for the Annual Pantani Remembrance Event. More importantly, it’s the hardest MTF ever seen on the opening weekend of a GT.

The route



The start is from San Francesco al Campo, a small and rather unassuming town just northwest of Turin most notable for its velodrome. It has never hosted the men’s race before, but the women have been here in 2011 for the race-ending TT won by Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. This was her 13th and final Giro stage win, putting her fifth on the all-time list – Marianne Vos, who secured her second of three GC titles that day, leads at an incredible 32.

The neutralisation takes us through San Maurizio Canavese, birthplace of Giovanni Brunero. In a slightly different world, he would likely have been much better-known as one of the Giro’s greatest. However, unfortunately for him, he came up against first Girardengo and then Binda. Despite this, he did manage to win three Giri, as well as managing one second place against both campionissimi (against Girardengo by the smallest margin pre-WWII, against Binda by almost half an hour). Retirement wasn’t exactly luckier for him: he died in 1934 of a chronic lung disease, aged just 39.

Moving back to the present, the first half of the stage is a straightforward trek through the Po valley. This section ends with an intermediate sprint in Valdengo, from where the going becomes much harder. First, we have some uncategorised climbing to the Intergiro sprint at Crocemosso (the main section is just under 3k at a little over 5%), then it’s on to the first KOM of the day at Oasi Zegna. Averaging a very consistent 5.4%, it’s the first 5.6k of the profile below.


This immediately backs into the next climb, to Nelva. At 3.2k and 7%, it’s also a tad more irregular than its predecessor.


There’s a brief flat before the intermediate sprint in Biella, then it’s immediately on to the MTF. Oropa is a UNESCO-inscribed sanctuary, mostly baroque but having served a religious purpose since the early Middle Ages. This will be the seventh ascent in the Giro. The most famous one is of course Pantani’s win in 1999, where a dropped chain caused him to fall to 50th, only for him to overtake all 49 riders ahead of him and win anyway. The most recent Giro stage win here, by Dumoulin in 2017, wasn’t half bad either - it’s strange to think that all the protagonists of that GC battle are either retired or seemingly finished. However, the most recent victor here is in fact Egan Bernal, in the 2019 edition of Gran Piemonte.


The actual climb makes for a very solid MTF, the overall gradient being brought down by the inclusion of the initial drag. The final 6.8k average 7.9%, and even that section isn’t exactly consistent with three separate 500-metre sections in the double digits and two bits where the gradient drops off completely.



What to expect?

This climb always produces at least some daylight between the main GC contenders, so even if there are likely no questions regarding the overall victory to be answered, we should get a good indication of who will be the best of the rest. The GC action not being for the stage win would not be a surprise given how often the break has taken the first mountain stage in recent years.

Oh, and we’ll see how Pogacar compares to Pantani. Il Pirata naturally holds the record at 17:04, but Dumoulin was only 33 seconds off in 2017…
Last edited:

Stage 3: Novara – Fossano, 166.0k​

The first of three consecutive sprint opportunities. At only 750 metres of elevation gain, it looks really easy at first glance, but a tricky finale means it’s less than ideal for the heavier guys.

The route



The riders have transferred southeast overnight into Novara, part of Lombardy from the Middle Ages until the 18th century but long since the easternmost city in Piedmont. This position on both the main route from Turin to Milan and what was an international border until unification was and is favourable for trade, but also meant it was the site of various battles in the 16th and 18th centuries. It is also the birthplace of Beppe Saronni, famous for winning two GCs and 24 stages at this race (largely during its dark age) as well as a raft of big one-day races, but also for an exceptionally early decline and rather questionable subsequent career as a team manager.


There isn’t all that much to say about the stage. It trades the flats of the Po valley for the hills of wine country midway through, but as the riders mostly stick to the valley it’s barely visible on the profile, save for the token KOM at Lu (probably the shortest-ever name for a classified climb).


Quite soon, the riders make it to Fossano, strategically situated on a ridge where the wine country turns back into the floodplain. Said ridge will play a key part here, as they enter town via a 1.8k, 5.3% climb. This will be the first pro race here since the Giro del Piemonte in 2009. That race featured the same final hill, with Gilbert winning a sprint of four after forcing a selection on said hill. However, the hill comes at 3k to go here rather than the 1.2k of that race, thanks to a rather unnecessary detour.



And 2024. Note the hairpin just before the flamme rouge, things might get hairy:



What to expect?

It seems a lot harder to make a winning move on the hill with the increased distance to the finish, but the more onedimensional sprinters really should be too far back by the summit to contest this one. In other words, probably a reduced sprint.

Stage 4: Acqui Terme – Andora, 190.0k​

A remarkably similar stage to the previous one, meaning we’re getting our second of three consecutive sprint opportunities in an area with lots of potential for a good mid-mountain stage. Factor in that having a sprint here necessitates a rather dangerous finale and you really wonder what RCS were thinking…

The route



The stage starts from Acqui Terme, already a spa resort in the Roman era. The other key component of the town’s economy is winemaking, but the vineyards mostly disappear shortly after the start as the riders head into the Apennines, leaving Piedmont for the first time this race in the process.. In fact, the majority of the stage is spent in the Apennines, but with precious little in the way of climbing to show for it as RCS have once again seen fit to stick mostly to valley roads. The sole KOM of the day is the Colle del Melogno, from its easiest side.


Rather than descend directly to the Ligurian coast, the riders turn back on themselves to head for Savona, the third city in Liguria by population. The route loops over the short but stingy Colle del Bresca in the process.


From here, it’s a straightforward run down the coast on the same main road used in Milano-Sanremo. The penultimate port of call is Laigueglia, where the eponymous Trofeo marks the start of the Italian cycling season each year. Two roads link it to Andora: the steep Colla Micheri, focal point of said race, and the easy Capo Mele. So naturally, RCS went with option two.



The climb is only marginally easier (1.6k at 5.1%) than the one used at the end of the Fossano stage, but I expect this one to be less selective because a) the road is far wider, b) there are no curves to stretch things out whereas the climb into Fossano had two hairpins, and c) the road is rather exposed. So we should have close to a complete peloton heading into the final 2.7 kilometres, and as everyone knows, the safest thing to have in the finale of a sprint stage is a descent. Speeds will be north of 80 kilometres an hour on the descent, which lasts until 700 metres from the line, and the peloton should be tightly packed given that there are no significant curves to stretch things out. It has the potential to end in disaster, and just to cap things off there’s a roundabout at 400 metres to go.

Okay, rant over, I guess I haven’t said anything about the finish town yet. Andora was first settled in the 8th century BC, and was one of the more important towns on the Ligurian coast until a sacking by the Milanese coupled with the swamping and subsequent rise of malaria in its hinterland caused it to decline from the 15th century onwards. The development of the Italian Riviera as a tourist destination caused it to rebound, thanks in part to having one of the better beaches in the area.


What to expect?

Assuming no crash, a bigger sprint than on Monday.
Last edited:

Stage 5: Genova – Lucca, 178.0k​

As promised, the third sprint in a row, as the Giro returns to Lucca for the first time since the farce of 1985.

The route



This Giro visits quite a few of Italy’s largest cities, and today Genova is on the menu. It rose in the Middle Ages as one of Italy’s so-called maritime republics, and it and Venice came to dominate trade in the Mediterranean and with it, trade with Asia. Their rivalry shaped history well beyond what is now Italy, notably being the direct cause of the Fall of Constantinople in 1204. However, it eventually ended up on the losing side of this rivalry, and while it remained a highly wealthy and influential city thanks in no small part to its status as an early banking centre, it would never be quite so powerful again. Indeed, both Milan and France controlled it for some time. After the Renaissance, it went into major decline for the same reasons as Venice: the rise of the Ottoman Empire costing it most of its colonies, and the discovery of the route around Africa rendering the old trade routes with the Far East obsolete. By the late 18th century, both cities were husks of their former selves and after being conquered by Napoleonic France and neither saw their independence restored at the Congress of Vienna. It remains one of the main ports in the Western Mediterranean as well as by far the largest city in Liguria, but of course its power is incomparable to its golden age.


The coast east of Genoa is so rugged that even following the coast as directly as possible doesn’t mean your route is going to be flat. First up is the climb to Ruta, the first ‘why isn’t this categorised?’ climb of the race.


After some moderately hilly terrain, it’s time for the main climb of the day, Passo del Bracco.


Unfortunately, the descent of this climb gives way to a very straightforward final 100 kilometres which sees the peloton exchange Liguria for Tuscany. There is one last climb at just over 20k to go, to Montemagno, but as Jakub Mareczko isn’t racing and Andrea Guardini has retired, no sprinter should get dropped here.


The final kilometres are very average fare, with some turns and roundabouts to stretch things out but nothing remarkably technical. We finish just outside the city walls.



And this is where we talk about Lucca, and why it hasn’t appeared in the Giro for 39 years despite being the home city of Mario Cipollini. The 1984 Giro remains the most farcical edition in its history, with (as was usual in this era, for this was the deepest point of the dark ages) an extremely easy route designed to benefit the main Italian hopes of the time, the annulment of a perfectly-rideable Passo dello Stelvio, and Francesco Moser doing a Démare-on-the-Poggio ten times over with zero repercussions. And yet, it had all not been enough for Moser to wrest the race lead from Laurent Fignon… until the final-day TT, in Verona. Moser needed to overturn more than a minute, so naturally the only thing to do for the organisation was to have a helicopter fly directly behind him to create a favourable airstream, while doing the exact opposite for Fignon by flying in front of him.

So, what did the organisers do for the 1985 edition after that horror show? More of the same. There was a grand total of one HC-difficulty climb in the route as presented, Gran San Bernardo, and at the last minute the route was changed so they went through the tunnel rather than over the pass instead. Once again, Moser found himself in second heading into the final TT, needing to overturn a marginally smaller gap (this time to Hinault) on a marginally longer course than the year prior. Take a guess what the organisers did with the helicopters? Thankfully, justice was served that day, with Hinault only losing seven seconds. That TT was the eighth and until now the final time the Giro visited Lucca, despite there being every reason to stop by in the 90s or early 00s to honour its most famous son and one of the Giro’s greatest stars, Mario Cipollini. It probably wasn’t a coincidence, and there is a dark irony in the race finally returning at what is probably its lowest point since the horrors of the 80s.


What to expect?

Too early in the race for a breakaway and no team that seems capable of drilling it all day like Sagan’s teams used to – this should be a full bunch sprint.

Stage 6: Torre del Lago Puccini (Viareggio) – Rapolano Terme, 180.0k​

“Can we have a sterrato stage in the Giro this year?”

“We have a sterrato stage at home!”

The sterrato stage:

The route



Look, I know I have a reputation for complaining too much about routes, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me for saying this stage is ***. A sterrato stage should have more than 11.6k of sterrato – for comparison, Monte Sante Marie on its own is 11.5k. Speaking of Monte Sante Marie, they literally pass by the start of it at 11k to go. Just to give you an idea of what this stage could should have been like, rather than the two-star stage we actually have.

The start is just down the road from Lucca in Torre del Lago Puccini, a random seaside suburb of Viareggio, where Magnus Cort won a very cold and wet stage last year. The route just about avoids every town and city about which I’d have had something interesting in the way of culture or cycling to tell. Instead, it directly through the valleys to the start of the day’s first KOM, to Volterra, already a significant town in the Etruscan and Roman eras. Its 4.8% average does not impress, although it has some decent ramps.


After Volterra, the terrain is more rolling, but never hard. Then, we enter the Crete Senesi, of course famous for its white roads we are mostly avoiding today. That being said, the first two sectors – Vidritta and Bagnaia, together effectively 9.2k of sterrato interrupted by 700 metres of asphalt – could do some damage. These sectors are the first two on the route of the actual Strade Bianche, although they only use the first half of Vidritta in that race. Bagnaia is much the harder, and contains the second and final KOM, to Grotti. The first 3.3k of the profile below are the final 3.3k of the sector.


At the end of the sector, there are 40 kilometres left to race, and most of those are spent bypassing sectors used in Strade Bianche – it’s not just Monte Sante Marie, the Intergiro sprint in Monteroni d’Arbia is very close to the start of San Martino in Grania, which runs parallel to the actual route. The sole bit of sterrato we do get is the short Pievina. You can’t really tell from the profile, but the final 900 metres are uphill.


From there, it’s a rather direct route to the finish in Rapolano Terme, the sole detour having been added after the initial presentation to include the little wall at Serre di Rapolano. Hidden in its 1.1k at 8.4% is the final 200-metre, 19% wall. The summit comes at just 4.2k to go. The remainder is rolling, with a little dig of 350 metres at 6.3% up to the flamme rouge and a tiny ramp of 6%, reminiscent of the Wandelaar finishes in Koksijde, to the line.



Rapolano Terme would have been a rather nondescript town in most settings, but not here. It may not be one of the most historically beautiful Tuscan towns, but it makes up for it with the thermal springs that have been added to its name as well as its position at the entrance of the Crete Senesi.


What to expect?

Half the peloton to survive the sterrati, only the strongest to make it over the wall, but with small enough gaps that things could come together for a (significantly) reduced bunch sprint. The breakaway also has a good chance here.
Last edited:

Stage 7: Foligno – Perugia, 40.6k (ITT)​

The second-longest TT of the year (yes, really), and it’s not a flat one either. In other words, this is definitely the most important GC day in the first half of the race.

The route



The start is from Foligno, a town that seems to pop up almost annually in either the Giro or the Tirreno. In fact, this stage makes it five from the last eleven Giri to have had a start and/or finish in Foligno – Bouhanni, Greipel and Sagan all won a sprint here, while Dumoulin took the TT that started here in 2017. Founded before the Romans took control of this part of Italy, it was at its peak around the time of the Renaissance, as (amongst other things) the centre of hemp production in the Papal States. In the Second World War, it was bombed severely by the Allies, leaving a mostly modern city centre.

While all the talk was about the second TT being extended, it is in fact this TT that got bumped up past the 40k mark. The area of this time trial is historically Umbria’s most important and densely populated. The most famous town in this area is of course Assisi, on the hillside overlooking the route; the most significant place between the start and finish we actually pass through is Spello, notable for its Roman remains.

On the technical side of things, the first 34 kilometres are flat and mostly untechnical. That all changes on the outskirts of Perugia, when we reach the final time check and with it, the KOM. Its overall stats are 6.6k at 4.2%, but almost all the difficulty is in the first 1.3 kilometres, for some reason the only part of which we get a profile.


From there, the road rises in steps towards the finish line. The 2.3 kilometres after the wall average just 1.1%, but all the elevation gain is concentrated in a fraction of that distance. The final 3 kilometres are a bit harder, even containing a brief 11% section. As it’s a TT, it could easily be this irregular section, rather than the wall, where the real damage is done. The final kilometre is mostly on narrow, technical and (lightly) cobbled sections.



Perugia is the capital of and largest city in Umbria. In the 12th and 13th century, the Pope would often relocate here whenever Rome was deemed too unsafe – indeed, five conclaves were held here, one of which elected Celestine V, the last pope to abdicate before Benedict XVI did so in 2013. It was much more than a papal refuge, something that is highlighted by its university, founded in 1308 and among the ten oldest universities in the world. It then became increasingly at odds with its papal rulers, who eventually demolished part of the city to build a large citadel in the 16th century. Even with this deterrent, Perugia and the Popes remained at odds until the last, with a large uprising on the eve of reunification being bloodily suppressed by Papal troops. Today, the city is notable for its chocolate as well as having a people mover line spanning half the city for no apparent reason other than that it kicks ***.


What to expect?

A battle between the GC riders and the specialists for the stage win, although the route is perhaps better suited to the former. And, naturally, the GC order will enter the washing machine and exit at rather larger intervals than before.

Stage 8: Spoleto – Prati di Tivo, 152.0k​

The hardest mountain stage in the first half of the race. While the GC battle should be all about the final climb, there are still nearly 4000 metres of elevation gain packed into a shortish stage and the effect of that shouldn’t be underestimated.

The route



The race has moved to the head of the valley of the previous day’s TT, a strategic spot where the town of Spoleto developed early. In Roman times, this was where the two branches of the Via Flaminia, the main route from Rome up north, reunited. In the early Middle Ages, it was the seat of an eponymous duchy, which briefly held the Italian crown, but its power was broken when Otto I invaded Italy; control subsequently switched repeatedly between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papal States. It did remain a regional capital until Italian reunification, but the loss of that status has reduced its importance today to probably the lowest point in its history.


The start is immediately uphill, with the final 2 kilometres of neutralisation being the first 2 kilometres of Forca di Cerro. While it’s not a hard climb, it could easily have been a cat. 3 or 4, but this is RCS, so it isn’t. The breakaway shouldn’t go here yet, but the door at the back of the peloton will be wide open from the get go.


The descent is a bit steeper near the bottom and moderately technical overall. It backs immediately into Forca Capistrello, the hardest climb of the race so far even if it’s a category 2 to Oropa’s category 1. The overall stats of 16.3k and 5.6% sell the climb short, especially due to the false flat downhill near the end: the section before that is 12.8k at a still-irregular 6.7%, with sections of 1.5k at 9.9% and 1k at 9.6% in there. This is the likeliest place for the breakaway to go, so it should be full of good climbers.


This is very much a lopsided climb, and so it’s a rather short descent before the riders embark on almost 60 kilometres of irregular terrain, with a lot of false flats and short climbs and descents but little actual flat. By the end of it, we’ve joined the route the Giro d’Abruzzo took in April en route to the same finish, transitioned from Umbria via Lazio into the Abruzzo, had the intermediate and Intergiro sprints, and, immediately after the latter, reached the next climb, Croce Arbio. Surprisingly, there’s an official profile.


The descent is shallow, wide, fast and untechnical. At the bottom of it, it’s immediately on to the final climb, Prati di Tivo. Though not quite at HC level, it’s probably the hardest MTF of the race. While it’s only been seen in the Giro once (1975, already on stage 3: Giovanni Battaglin, who would pull off the Vuelta-Giro double six years later, took the stage and the pink), it should still be familiar to everyone thanks to the Tirreno MTFs in 2012, 2013 and 2021, as well as the aforementioned Abruzzo stage a month prior to this one. It’s a remarkably consistent climb, slightly steeper in the middle but slightly easier near the end, with the bonus second sprint past halfway up in Pietracamela for some reason.



What to expect?

Big battle in the first quarter of the stage to get into the breakaway, a lull after that in which we find out whether the peloton wants the stage, and then showdown time on the MTF.

Stage 9: Avezzano – Napoli, 214.0k​

The first week concludes with the second-longest stage of the race. Only 1300 metres of elevation gain sounds ideal for the sprinters, but most of them come pretty late.

The route



The stage starts from Avezzano, in the southwestern corner of the Abruzzo region. It is located at the edge of where the Fucine Lake, then the largest in the Italian peninsula (within the country as a whole, Garda and Maggiore are larger), used to be. Said lake often flooded due to its lack of an outflow and also harboured malaria. The Romans partially drained it in the first and second centuries, but the drainage systems fell into disuse in the Middle Ages and the lake grew with each century. Finally, in the late 19th century, the lake was drained completely, and the fertile lakebed becoming available for cultivation meant Avezzano grew rapidly. But then, tragedy struck in 1915 in the shape of an earthquake, which killed over 30000 people and destroyed the city, which had to be rebuilt, and then rebuilt again following Allied bombing. Today, its economy relies mostly on crops from the former lakebed as well as the satellite teleport centre, one of the world’s largest.


There isn’t overly much to talk about for most of the stage. Once again, the riders pass through Lazio without there being a start or finish there. The most significant town visited in this portion is Cassino, completely destroyed in the Second World War in the Battle of Montecassino, one of the bloodiest in the Italian Campaign. After crossing the border into Campania, we have the intermediate and Intergiro sprints, before the day’s main course in the Naples conurbation. The finale starts with Monte di Procida, from the side descended in the 2022 Naples stage, which is the day’s sole KOM.


A short descent takes the riders into Bacoli, where they can squabble over bonus seconds at the sprint. The route of Bacoli is a 20-metre bump into Baia, the now half-submerged Roman equivalent to the most luxury resorts on the French Riviera. It is also the start of the short, but difficult little wall up Via Petronio – only 900 metres in length, but with 100 metres at 16% out of the first hairpin. Said hairpin is where we join the route of the 2022 Giro stage into Naples, and from here on out the route is identical.


A brief descent and a flat that isn’t much longer separate the summit from Pozzuoli, where we pass by the Roman amphitheatre and head up the hill to San Gennaio. Consistently at about 5% most of the way up on a very wide road, it isn’t the most testing hill, but coming inside the final 20k it should at least be taken at pace.


One last hill separates the riders from the finish line in Naples. It’s probably the day’s toughest, but that isn’t saying much.


The descent lasts until 3k from the line, then there’s a 180-degree turn at the flamme rouge that wasn’t an issue in 2022 but, if we get a sprint this time, definitely could be one.



Naples was founded as Neapolis by the Greeks and had already become a large trading centre prior to it falling to Rome during the Samnite Wars in the late 4th century BC, a status it has maintained ever since. It reached its zenith in the 17th century, when it was the second-largest city in Europe (behind Paris) and a leading centre of the Baroque, before an outbreak of the plague claimed half its population. It has remained the largest city in southern Italy until the present day, but it is also very much a city where the effects of Southern Italy’s Sodom and Gomorra – the north-south divide and the mafia – can be felt strongly. Modern Naples is a city of high highs and deep lows, where you’re as likely to come across a remarkable piece of architecture as you are to stumble into uncollected garbage – which will it be for this stage, the third in as many years to finish here?


What to expect?

The final two hills probably aren’t hard enough for a finisseur attack, making it a great stage for a reduced bunch sprint (think something along the lines of the stage Pedersen won at last year’s Tour, only with a flat sprint). That being said, the breakaway specialists will fancy their chances too.

Stage 10: Pompei – Cusano Mutri (Bocca della Selva), 142.0k​

The second week kicks off with an underrated MTF. No, it isn’t exactly brutal, but contrary to what some people would have you believe, it also isn’t anywhere near the likes of Montevergine, Mégève or Laguna Negra.

The route



The first week ended in the Naples metropolitan area, and that’s where we still are for the start of the second week. Pompeii has been immortalized in Western culture just as much as it was immortalized two millennia ago by the Vesuvius. Of course, it’s rather possible that the GC battle, too, will feel like it died and was buried ages ago by the time this stage rolls around, but let’s hope that that irony doesn’t come to pass.


The first 45 kilometres are flat, bad news for any climbers wanting to get into the breakaway but it isn’t out of the question that nothing has stuck by the time the road rises for the first time, to the intermediate sprint at Arpaia.


Next up is the uncategorised climb to Bivio Taburno. For no apparent reason we’re on random back roads, making for a steep climb, and yet despite that effort there are no KOM points.


The first climb that actually hands out KOM points is Camposauro, one of the best passes in the area, although this is the easier side. At the pass, there is also a dead-end road which would make for a HC MTF and there’s plenty of space at the summit… hopefully, a story for a future Giro.


The penultimate climb is to Guardia Sanframondi, where Victor Lafay won the stage in 2022. For some reason, the route taken into town, while partially the same, is significantly tougher overall – why did they not use this variant as the HTF/MTF back then? Oh, and the Intergiro is here for some reason.


Following a rolling section, the riders reach Cusano Mutri, which is paying for the finish and has gotten the bonus second sprint as part of the deal. The MTF itself is officially 20.9k at a lowly 4.6%, but for unclear reasons that figure includes 3 flat kilometres before the road actually goes uphill – the actual climb is therefore 17.9k at 5.4%. Moreover, the hardest stuff is near the end, with the final 6.4k at 7.2% and three of the final four kilometres having individual averages of at least 8%. Overall, it’s very similar in nature to the Leysin MTF they used very recently at Romandie, although I think Bocca della Selva just about has the edge.



Bocca della Selva has been used twice in Giro history: once in the aforementioned Guardia Sanframondi stage where they descended this side, and once early stage in the 2016 stage to Roccaraso from the same side used here.


What to expect?

Probably one for the breakaway, but I would be disappointed if we don’t see GC action in the final quarter of the climb.

Stage 11: Foiano di Val Fortore – Francavilla al Mare, 207.0k​

This stage marks the halfway point of the Giro, and perhaps fittingly it’s also the place where the route switches from the western to the eastern parts of the country. It also marks the halfway point of the sprint stages.

The route



Every GT has at least one stage start or finish in a random village or small town in the middle of nowhere. In this Giro, Foiano di Val Fortore fulfils that role. The Fortore river is one of the few in Campania that drains in the Adriatic, a clear hint as to where we’re heading today. The absence of a road through its valley means that the stage starts with an uncategorised climb, to San Bartolomeo in Galdo.


The first part of the stage is spent ticking off Italian regions as fast as possible. The descent from San Bartolomeo takes the riders into Apulia, which they almost immediately exchange for Molise, most forgettable of all Italian regions. Just after crossing the border, we hit the only KOM of the day, to Pietracatella.


After a rolling section that ends with the intermediate sprint in Casacalenda, it’s a very gradual descent to the Adriatic. The coast is reached in Termoli, where Caleb Ewan won his eleventh and currently final GT stage three years ago. Here, the route turns northwest to head up the boot’s edge, swiftly re-entering the Abruzzo region that was already visited in the second weekend. The Intergiro sprint is in the border town of San Salvo Marina, where Jonathan Milan broke his Giro duck last year. The route mostly follows the flat coastal roads here, and it isn’t an area noted for its wind either. It heads down the Costa dei Trabocchi, through Fossacesia Marina (where the bonus sprint is held) and Ortona, the hosts of last year’s opening TT won by Remco Evenepoel. Fossacesia is also notable as the birthplace of Alessandro Fantini, who won seven Giro stages and two Tour stages in the 1950s in addition to coming second on the fabled Monte Bondone snow stage where Charly Gaul won the 1956 Giro. He died aged just 29, of injuries sustained in a horrible crash in a Tour of Germany sprint in 1961.

From Ortona, it’s only a short distance to Francavilla al Mare, the day’s finish location. The finale is completely flat and the final turn is at 3.5k from the line (assuming they remove the traffic furniture at a small roundabout at 200 metres to go), so expect a very hectic finish. Francavilla was a small port, always overshadowed by nearby Pescara, that only grey into relevance with the advent of tourism from the late 19th century onwards. In what sadly seems to be a recurring theme this race, it suffered greatly during the Second World War: a Nazi razzia, one of the worst in the Abruzzo, killed 20, and it was mostly destroyed by Allied bombing and the retreating German army. It has recovered since, serving both as a beach resort and a commuter town for Pescara.


What to expect?

Anything other than a full bunch sprint would be a big surprise.

Stage 12: Martinsicuro – Fano, 193.0k​

In which RCS continues its extremely annoying recent trend of having a hilly stage in Le Marche, famous for its brutal walls, without actually using said walls. It’s still a decent stage, though.

The route



The start is in Martinsicuro, the northernmost town in the Abruzzo region. Its name is derived from the Spanish captain Martin de Siguera, who oversaw the construction of a watchtower (which doubled as a border post, as this was also the northernmost extent of Spain’s Italian possessions) here in the 16th century. Although a decent-sized town had been located here, it remained only a small village until the development of beach tourism from the 1960s onwards.


Immediately after the start, the peloton crosses the border with Le Marche, quickly passing through the traditional endpoint of Tirreno-Adriatico in San Benedetto del Tronto. From here, the route follows the coast until Civitanova Marche, where they turn inland for the Crocette di Montecosaro. This climb was categorised in the 2022 stage to Jesi (the one where Biniam Girmay almost blinded himself with a champagne bottle), a recurring theme for the central part of this stage.


It is followed by the uncategorised climb to Montelupone, the first 1.8k of the profile below.

Next up is the hardest climb of the day, to Recanati. For reasons beyond human comprehension, it’s the intermediate sprint this time.


After Recanati, we deviate from the 2022 route to head for the first KOM, in Osimo. This side is far easier than the wall used for the 2018 finish won by Simon Yates, barely worth the KOM points. For those relying on the PCS profile, it is incorrect here at the time of writing: the actual stats are 6.7k at 2.5%, with a flat section in the middle but still rarely over 6%. I don’t have an actual profile, but I do for the harder, but uncategorised climb just after it to San Paterniano. It is the first 3.2k of the profile below, making for a climb of 3.1k at 4.4% with all the difficulty in the initial ramp.


The route then briefly rejoins the 2022 one for the final KOM of that stage, to Monsano.


After this, the going gets harder, with the short, but stingy little wall to Ostra.


The final KOM is just around the corner, with the two-stepped climb to La Croce. Atop the first step, in Ripe, there’s the Intergiro.


Following a short valley, there is the climb to the bonus second sprint in the village of Mondolfo.


From here, there are just over 30 kilometres to race. If those 30 kilometres were similar to the 30 before it, this stage would be a lot more exciting, but unfortunately there are almost 20 kilometres of nothing to stymie the hopes of long-range action. The final climb, to Monte Giove, is uncategorised, and really isn’t done justice by including the false flat at the end and breaking up the gradients into 500-metre intervals. In reality, the first 1.2 kilometres average over 9%, and even those are quite irregular given the maximum gradient. The highest point is just over 9k from the line.


Those 9 kilometres to the line could have been almost halved, but unfortunately they’ve seemingly tried to use every last road in Fano to get to the finish line. The final kilometres are flat and full of narrowings, road furniture that I hope will at least partially be removed, and twists and turns.



Fano was already of importance in the Roman era, when it was a religious centre known as Fanum Fortunae, and also the point where the Via Flaminia reached the Adriatic coast. Part of the fortifications, including a large arch, survive to the present day. It was destroyed in the 6th century by the Ostrogoths, but swiftly rebuilt by the Byzantines, and largely maintained its position as one of the main cities of what is now the Marche until today.


What to expect?

A golden opportunity for the breakaway, given the lack of specialists in this field. From the peloton, there may be some skirmishes on the final climb, but don’t expect too much.

Stage 13: Riccione – Cento, 179.0k​

The annual day of nothingness in the Po valley.

The route



The race has moved into Emilia-Romagna overnight, from where the race restarts in the seaside resort of Riccione. It was a small village governed from Rimini until the development of the Riviera Romagnola from the late 19th century onwards. It became a town in its own right in 1923, and soon became heavily favoured by Mussolini, who purchased (or rather, forced the owner into selling) a villa that was turned into his summer residence in 1933. Despite this controversial past, it has continued to flourish as one of the region’s leading coastal resorts until the present day.


The stage initially follows the Via Emilia northwest, spending more time on the bypasses of towns and cities rather than going through them than I seem to remember from previous Giri. This is already the case in Rimini, equally famous for its Roman remains and Roman levels of debauchery by tourists. The riders turn inland from there, passing through Cesena, where Remco Evenepoel won the TT last year mere hours before withdrawing with Covid, and then Forlì, historically the capital of Romagna. On its outskirts, we pass through Villanova di Forlì, hometown of Ercole Baldini. Baldini is the first and only rider to have claimed gold at both the Olympic (1956) and World (1958) road races in addition to winning a Grand Tour (the 1958 Giro). The intermediate sprint is located here.

In the next larger town, Faenza, the riders leave the Via Emilia and head deeper into the Po valley. Here, the roads become narrower and more twisty, as the landscape turns from mostly urban to mostly rural. I really have nothing to say about the remainder of the route, the number of landmarks is similar to the number of climbs, so we’ll skip ahead to the final kilometres. These feature a lot of turns, which become progressively less technical as the finish draws closer. The final, reasonably shallow turn is through a roundabout at 450 metres from the line. The bump on the profile below is the bridge over the Reno river.



Cento does not refer to the metres of elevation gain in this stage (it isn’t far off, though), but is instead the main town in the region between the historic cities of Bologna and Ferrara. Although now part of the latter province, it was more commonly held by the former – indeed, the architecture of its historical centre means it is sometimes called ‘Little Bologna’. It is best known as the home to Italy’s oldest carnival, dating back to at least the 17th century.


What to expect?

A snoozefest, as always in the Po valley.
Last edited:

Stage 14: Castigliano delle Stiviere – Desenzano del Garda, 31.2k (ITT)​

The second and final time trial is a fairly typical affair, slightly rolling and in a touristic area. With 40k of time-trialing and zero truly hard mountain stages under the rider’s belts, it’s likely to be a day where gaps are extended, rather than overturned.

The route



The riders will roll down the starting ramp in Castigliano delle Stiviere, on the southern edge of the low glacial hills behind which Lake Garda is located. It was the site of major battles in the War of the Spanish Succession and in Napoleon’s Italian campaigns, but those are dwarfed by a battle that took place in the first town passed by the riders: Solferino. This was the decisive battle of the Second Italian War of Independence, as well as one of the largest battles of the 19th century. The Austrian loss here to an alliance of the House of Savoy (by this time known as the Kingdom of Sardinia) and France (who received Savoy and Nice from Sardinia in exchange for their participation) meant it lost all its Italian possessions but Venice to what would soon become the Kingdom of Italy. However, that was not the only major impact of this battle, as it was witnessing the disregard for the wounded in its aftermath that led Henry Dunant to found the Red Cross.

Just after Solferino, which is also the first time check, we have the most rolling section of the TT: a 700-metre, 5.7% dig up to Cavriana. Here, the riders turn north, towards Lake Garda as well as the second time check at the Torre di San Martino, which commemorates the aforementioned battle. By this point, the lake is a stone’s throw away and the final kilometres are just about on the shore.



Desenzano del Garda is the largest town on the lake, and has been one of the major centres on its shores throughout its history. It was already a favourite destination for the rich in Roman times, and the remains of a Roman villa can be seen today. For centuries, it belonged to the Republic of Venice, which is reflected by much of the architecture in the town centre. Today, it serves as one of the main hubs for tourism on Lake Garda, both as a gateway and as a destination in its own right. It is also the hometown of Sonny Colbrelli, missed sorely in the peloton.


What to expect?

Unlike the first TT, this route should greatly suit the specialists and the top-10 should reflect that. For the GC battle, the combination of over 70 kilometres of TT and a lack of major mountain stages thus far will ensure that the pure climbers have their work cut out for them if they want to podium.

Stage 15: Manerba del Garda – Livigno (Mottolino), 222.0k​

The queen stage, and it’s a great microcosm of all that’s wrong with RCS. Sure, the numbers make it seem really hard – longest stage of the race, 5400 metres of elevation gain – but the terrain just isn’t all that suitable for attacking. And it’s entirely RCS’s own fault: for the second year running, they’ve announced a big climb in Switzerland that is usually closed in May, done nothing to ensure the road is actually open, and then – surprise! – had to change plans after the original announcement. To do so once is bad enough, to do so twice in a row means you’re either totally incompetent or serially dishonest. Now, they could still have had a stage that was almost as good as the original one by going over the Gavia (which backs directly into the penultimate climb) instead of the weak side of the Mortirolo, but clearly that was too much to ask for too. The result is this mess of a stage, the weakest route with over 5000 metres of elevation imaginable.

The route



The caravan has transferred all of 15 kilometres overnight, into Manerba del Garda. Modern Manerba is a collection of small villages joined together by new, mostly tourist-oriented sprawl. Above it is a rocky hill that was inhabited from the Mesolithic until the Middle Ages, today both an archeological site and a popular viewpoint.


The route starts by bypassing Salò – clearly, Riccione was enough in the way of uncomfortable fascist history for one Giro – and then heads up the Chiese valley, away from Lake Garda. Here, we pass through Sabbio Chiese, where last year’s Monte Bondone stage started. At the point where the valley turns northeast towards the Lago d’Idro and Trentino, the riders leave it, and that means it’s time to climb. Lodrino isn’t exactly hard, but if the break hasn’t gone yet, the racing will be.


Next up is the first Alpine pass of this year’s race, Colle di San Zeno. This is the shorter, easier side, but it’s still a good climb. If there is still no break, it should form here.


The descent is probably the narrowest of this year’s Giro and takes us to the northern end of Lake Iseo. It’s only a quick visit, as the route heads north up the Val Camonica. This valley section lasts for quite a while, taking us through the intermediate sprint to the Mortirolo. Infuriatingly, this will be the third time in its four most recent inclusions that they’re taking the single easiest way up, and while I’m fully aware that the classic side can’t be easily reached from this direction, they could at least acknowledge the existence of the Recta Contador.


The descent into the Valtellina is fairly technical (you may remember Nibali attacking here in 2022). The road up the valley is a long drag, but at 32 kilometres from the line, the climbing restarts in earnest. With that, the flat has ran out, but the actually steep stuff very nearly has as well by this point. Some of what remains comes on the short climb to the bonus sprint at Le Motte.


After the briefest of descents and the Intergiro sprint, it’s time for Passo di Foscagno. It’s at altitude and at least somewhat long, but an average gradient of 6.5% on a very consistent climb isn’t exactly great for attacks.


A brief descent takes us to the bottom of the most hilariously overcategorised climb in history, Mottolino. Forget about ASO thinking Arcalis should be a HC climb, here’s RCS designating a 4.7k, 7.7% MTF as a cat. 1 in a race without a HC category. All the difficulty is in the final two kilometres.



The Mottolino MTF is new to the Giro, the final ramp having been paved for this stage, but the resort village of Livigno to which it belongs has hosted twice before, in 1972 (Eddy Merckx) and 2005 (Iván Ramiro Parra, on a Mythical Mark Padun weekend before Mythical Mark Padun was a thing). In the latter year, it also hosted the MTB world championships. Away from cycling, it’s a high-altitude ski resort that has enjoyed duty-free status since its days under Austrian control.

What to expect?

A war of attrition in the GC battle (unless Pogacar feels like dropping a watts bomb, I guess), whether that happens behind a breakaway or not is up in the air.

Stage 16: Livigno – Santa Cristina Valgardena/Sankt Christina in Gröden (Monte Pana), 202.0k 206.0k​

Edited on 14/5 to reflect the annulment of the Stelvio. The parts I've replaced are in spoiler tags.

The Cima Coppi stage, and it really hasn't had all that much because apparently it's easier to clear 13k of a road going up to 2500 metres with seven days' warning than it is to clear 4k of a road going up to 2300 metres with seven months' warning.

The Cima Coppi stage, and it’s a great microcosm of all that’s wrong with large parts of the cycling media and fanbase. In a Giro with an endless amount of points worth criticising, the majority of the negativity (not on this forum) has focused on… using the Stelvio in the first half of the stage, when a) it’s the only way of getting from the start to the finish that neither goes through Switzerland nor reaches the 240k mark, and b) there are far greater problems with this very stage than the use of the Stelvio. To anyone reading this who criticised the way Stelvio is used and is currently thinking ‘how does this guy think I’m supposed to know the possible routes from Livigno to Santa Cristina?’ – that’s why you inform yourself before you criticise something. And no, they can’t just magically conjure up stage hosts at will to prevent them from having to make this choice.

Okay, end of rant. I promise that that’s the last of me being really negative in the stage introductions.

The route





After a rest day spent at altitude in Livigno, the race restarts by retracing its steps from the previous stage. First, it’s up to Passo Eira (the first 1.9k of which are in neutralisation), where the riders turned onto Mottolino, then it’s the route in reverse as far as Isolaccia, at the bottom of the descent of Passo di Foscagno. No mountain points, because they ran out for a while thanks to last stage’s MTF.



Following the descent, it's time for what is most easily described as the side of Stelvio they were already doing, only with the final 3 kilometres chopped off. It's still a genuine HC, it's still the Cima Coppi, and it still shouldn't do anything for GC. No official profile at the time of updating the post, but of course we have Cyclingcols.


Following the descent, it’s time for perhaps the most controversial climb in the Giro since Monte Crostis back in 2011. No, it isn’t going to mean anything in this position other than breakaway/KOM action, but it was still the sensible thing to do.


After a long, hairpin-laden no longer quite so long and definitely not hairpin-laden descent, it’s time for endless valley, now starting by re-entering Italy and rejoining the planned route shortly after, then through the Vinschgau and down the Etsch/Adige valley into Bozen/Bolzano, the capital of Südtirol/Alto Adige, where the riders may chose to contest the intermediate sprint before turning back north for a short distance up the Eisack/Isarco valley. Here, it’s time for the real problem with this stage: the run-in to the final climb. Another climb before Passo di Pinei/Panidersattel would have been nice, but the main issue is the side of said climb they’re using. Instead of the one that starts with 5.5k at 10% and doesn’t have an endless flat section in the middle, we use the one that does have an endless flat section in the middle without a hard start to show for it. But hey, at least they could squeeze the Intergiro and bonus sprints into the flat part.


A short descent takes the riders into the Grödental/Val Gardena. This valley consists of three villages, and today’s finish is hosted by the one that’s been forgotten by the Giro until now. Santa Cristina/Sankt Christina has plenty of sporting tradition, though, thanks mainly to the annual round of the Alpine skiing World Cup held here. However, we’re not finishing in town, but two kilometres above it at the Nordic skiing centre of Monte Pana. Ostensibly the climb is 6.5k at 6.1%, but really it’s a two-kilometre wall preceded by a slightly uphill drag up the valley.




What to expect?

Probably a winning break, given that whichever team leads the race UAE won’t want to overwork its mountain domestiques in the valley and therefore will either go slow on the Stelvio or sit up after the descent for as long as they need to. GC action should be constrained to the final 2 kilometres. At least there’s scope for pretty pictures…
Last edited:

Stage 17: Selva di Val Gardena/Wolkenstein in Gröden – Passo Brocon, 159.0k​

The Dolomites stage. It’s constantly up and down from the second climb onwards, but unfortunately proper gradients are few and far between aside from the first climb and the MTF.

The route



For the third stage in a row, the transfer has been negligible: in this case, the next village over. Selva/Wolkenstein was a Giro stage finish seven times between 1983 and 2000, most notably in 1998, when Pantani took the pink jersey, never to relinquish it. Situated at the base of the Sella Ronda, it is an important tourist destination even by Dolomite standards.


Speaking of the Sella, take a guess what climb we’re starting with. I’ll give a hint, it’s the final 8.9k of the profile below.


After descending into Canazei and leaving the bilingual area (my backslash key is grateful), the riders head down the Val di Fassa and into the Val di Fiemme, with the intermediate sprint in Predazzo. Here, they head up the long, two-stepped Passo Rolle, which would have a middling average gradient even if it didn’t have the flat middle part.


The descent is equally shallow, and backs into the very easy Passo Gobbera. By this point, the riders have left the Dolomites proper.


Following the Intergiro, it’s time for the first two ascents of the pass used for the MTF, each time from a different side. The first side is definitely the easier one. To illustrate how low the gradients of these climbs have been: this is the third climb in a row without a single kilometre over 8%.


The ensuing descent is the easiest of the three major ones on this stage. It brings the riders to the bonus sprint in Pieve Tesino, situated atop a little bonus ramp ahead of the actual MTF. Said MTF is once again made to look easier by the inclusion of an initial false flat, a more reflective figure would be 9.9k at 7.3%. With a central section of 4.5k at 9.6%, it may not be a monster MTF but it’s hard enough to do actual damage.



What to expect?

It could get really hectic given how little flat there is, but the low gradients that dominate prior to the MTF make it hard to force anything other than by ambush. But even without GC attacks before the final climb, gaps could be surprisingly large for an MTF of this size if the pace on the previous climbs has been high.

Stage 18: Fiera di Primiero – Padova, 178.0k​

Like most years, the Giro detours into the Po valley for a flat stage to break up the third week mountain block.

The route



The start is in Fiera di Primiero, which the riders already passed through at the bottom of the descent of Passo Rolle on the previous stage. It’s a village that serves as a gateway to both Trentino and the Dolomites, and as such mostly survives on tourism. The first few kilometres will be rather difficult to follow on TV, as the road out of the valley and into Veneto spends almost as much time under the mountains as it does in between them. This section ends with the day’s sole KOM, the easy climb to Lamon which corresponds to the first 3.4k of the profile below.


From here, we leave the mountains via Feltre, reaching the point where Alps turn to floodplain at the intermediate sprint in Valdobbiadene. This town is one of the main centre of Prosecco production and hosted the main TT in both 2015 (Vasil Kiryienka) and 2020 (Filippo Ganna). The riders leave it via the tiny climb to Santo Stefano, pretty much the final section of elevation gain that reaches the double digits if we measure in metres.


After circumventing the Montello, the route heads south towards Treviso, the closest thing to Venice you’ll find that doesn’t have the hordes of tourists and admission fee just to enter the city. The Intergiro is in its suburbs. The route then skirts Venice, with the bonus sprint in the commuter town of Martellago, before heading west towards the finish in Padova. The finale is devoid of turns until the final kilometre, which contains two big ones.



Padova is most notable as one of Italy’s leading cultural centres in the second half of the Middle Ages, being home to the world’s second-oldest university and oldest botanical garden as well as a large group of 14th-century frescoes (the latter two being UNESCO-inscribed). It seems to have declined in importance somewhat after Venice conquered it at the start of the 15th century, but remained prosperous until the Venetian Republic dwindled to nothingness in the 18th century. In the First World War, it was the centre of Italian command and the peace treaty with Austria-Hungary, but it – and the Veneto in general – remained relatively impoverished prior to its rapid postwar development into one of the richest regions in Italy.


What to expect?

The equivalent stages have often been won by the breakaway in recent years, but with this year’s deeper sprint field it would take a lot of abandons to make a repeat of that scenario likely.

Stage 19: Mortegliano – Sappada, 157.0k​

The penultimate day in the Alps is more of a mid-mountain stage. The profile screams breakaway day, but the history says otherwise…

The route



For this stage, the race moves into its final new region for this year, Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The starting town of Mortegliano is rather unassuming, but can be seen from afar thanks to the highest bell tower in Italy.


The town is approximately 30 kilometres from the edge of the Alps, and we take a fairly direct route there, reaching touching distance of the slopes in San Daniele del Friuli, where Jan Tratnik won the stage in 2020. However, the route sticks to the valleys at first, making for terrain that’s rolling at most as far as Tolmezzo, Jonathan Milan’s hometown. Shortly after it, the road heads uphill in earnest for the first time, as the riders take on the uncategorised Rosa dei Venti.


Following a brief descent and the Intergiro sprint in Paularo, it’s time for the steep Passo Duron, the day’s hardest climb. It is one of the more typical climbs in Friuli, but despite its proximity to Zoncolan, this is only the third time the Giro’s been up it.


Its descent ends at the crossroads where the next climb starts. They do a small detour to the bonus sprint in Cercivento first, so only the final 4.9k of the profile below match.


Technically, the descent of Valcalda also backs directly into the final climb to Cima Sappada, but really it’s an endless drag, extended by the detour into the biathlon facilities at Forni Avoltri (adding a kilometre of flat near the Piani di Luzza marker on the profile below), until the 2.4k at 8.6% section near the end.


The summit is 6.2k from the finish line in Sappada. The first 4.2 of those are a false flat downhill, before a penultimate kilometre at 5.4% and a flat finish.



Sappada has only hosted the Giro twice before, but despite that it’s seen one great and one legendary stage. The legendary one was in the famous Giro of 1987, a brawl between Carrera teammates Roberto Visentini and Stephen Roche that had already developed prior to the race. On the morning of the Sappada stage, Visentini was comfortably in the lead, and there was no reason for that to change on a day with only two mid-sized climbs. Roche had other ideas, attacking on the descent of the first climb (Monte Rest). Team management ordered him to sit up, and with neither side backing down, Carrera chose to chase its own rider. While the strongest from the peloton would catch him on the final climb to Cima Sappada (the same as on this stage), Visentini was not among them after having bonked completely: he lost six minutes that day. The fallout was immense, with Visentini, most of Carrera and the Italian fans alike in fury for the next stages. Roche fended off the attacks by all three en route to winning the race; he would, of course, win the Tour and Worlds the same year, the second (after Merckx) and final rider to do so (but if there’s any year where a third may join them…). Visentini ended up abandoning after a crash on the final mountain stage, and was never the same rider again.

The great stage into Sappada was in 2018, where Simon Yates proved his dominance by winning solo and Chris Froome proved that he was riding a disastrous Giro by failing to finish with the first chase group. Or so the world thought at the time. How wrong we all were…

What to expect?

On paper, it should be a breakaway stage with GC action limited to the final ramps of Cima Sappada at best, but lightning has a habit of striking twice…

Stage 20: Alpago – Bassano del Grappa, 184.0k​

It’s taken all race, but at last we’ve arrived at a mountain stage designed for attacks from distance. The big question: will the GC situation be right for them?

The route



The final stage start in the Alps falls to Alpago, the historical gateway to Belluno and the southeastern Dolomites. The stage heads in the opposite direction, into Vittorio Veneto, site of the decisive battle on the Italian Front in World War I (the armistice, as mentioned previously, being signed in Pavia in its immediate aftermath). The next port of call is one final reminder of everything wrong with Mauro Vegni: this passage of the Muro di Ca’ del Poggio makes it the single most-used KOM during his tenure heading RCS. Just like the previous five times it’s been used, it will be mostly irrelevant.


And that’s me done complaining with the route, because the rest of the stage is great. Yes, they could have used one of the irregular eastern sides with the monster ramps early on for the first ascent of Grappa, but we still have a final 95 kilometres containing two ascents of an absolute behemoth and very little flat. The Semonzo side is most the classic one, last seen a decade ago when Nairo Quintana won the MTT. It’s a brilliant climb, averaging over 8% for over 18 kilometres with the gradients only dipping below 7% during two tiny descending sections.


Of course, we cannot talk about Monte Grappa without mentioning the awful bloodshed here in the final year of World War I. After being routed at Caporetto, in modern Slovenia, the Italian army managed to halt the Austrian progress at the Piave river… but the ability to maintain that front depended on holding the line at Monte Grappa. Three large assaults were mounted here, two by the Austrians and the final one by the Italians, in the advent of Vittorio Veneto. Tens of thousands fell in those battles alone, not to mention the effects of the winter weather on the mountainside. In World War 2, another 1500 were killed here, members of the Italian resistance slaughtered at the hands of the Salò regime. A large monument, containing the remains of over 20000 fallen soldiers, as well as many surviving fortifications, form a lasting memory of humanity’s horrors.


The descent into Romano d’Ezzelino is interrupted by the short wall to Il Pianaro, with bonus seconds on the final of its two ascents.


After the first descent, the flat lasts until the next village over, where the fun begins again. The finish in Bassano del Grappa is further from the bottom of the descent, but not by much.



Bassano del Grappa has been the centre of the area in front of the Grappa since the Middle Ages, usually ruled from one of the larger cities (Vicenza, Padova and especially Venice) to its south. It may be perennially tied to the evils of Monte Grappa, even in name after the fascists had ‘del Grappa’ appended to it, but it is actually a rather picturesque place.


What to expect?

It’s the kind of stage that can only end up at opposite ends of the scale: long-range attacks if the riders are up to it, a damp squib if they’re not.

Stage 21: Roma (EUR) – Roma, 125.0k​

Just like last year, the race racks up some additional emissions to finish in the capital. Unlike last year, there should actually be a decent sprint field to contest the final sprint.

The route



Much like last year, the stage starts at the EUR campus, does an out-and-back route to Ostia, then heads into the city centre for some circuits. Said circuit is completely changed: not only is it far shorter, but annoyingly they’ve moved the finish away from the Via dei Fori Imperiali, meaning no Colosseum in the background for the final sprint. The alternative finish is still on urban cobbles, so I really don’t see the point of the change, but a sprint’s a sprint, I guess.



I’d write something about Rome here, but it really needs no introduction and it’s past time to put up this analysis. Thanks for reading, and if you catch any mistakes, please let me know!


What to expect?

If we’re really lucky, people will take cues from last year’s Vuelta parade that was anything but, realistically it’s just a sprint.
Last edited: