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Race Design Thread

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Giro d'Italia: Stage 5: Isernia – Passo Lanciano – Majellletta, 185 km
The first mountain stage and proper GC stage in this Giro, and it’s a real cracker! The concept of a double climb of the same mountain from different ascents I have applied to several other of my previous Giro versions. Among other on mountains like Etna, Monte Amiata, Monte Grappa and Terminillo/Sella di Leonesa. This time it’s being used on probably the toughest climb of all in the Apennines, Passo Lanciano.

The climbing of the stage starts almost immediately, after about 15 kms. The first two climbs to Rionero Sanntico and Roccaraso. are well-known after being used several times in Giro medium mountain stages. My first version of the Giro also included a real monster of a 255 km medium mountain stage via these climbs which ended in Pescostanzo. After passing through the village of Roccaraso they continue for more than 10 kms on a high-altitude plateau before starting a long descent towards the town of Sulmona.

Just before reaching Sulmona, they instead turn right and start the tougher and longer climbs of the stage. First the long but fairly gentle climb to Passo San Leonardo where the top is reached after about 89 km, just before halfway on the stage. A new descent and a about 10 km flat section brings the riders towards the Lanciano/Majelletta climbs. The first ascent is done from Roccamorice, the southwestern approach to Lanciano, which also probably is the ascent in poorest condition. A long and tough climb where from km 3 to 12 of the climb, it’s mostly 9-11 % gradient which surely will shatter the peloton into pieces.

After about 133 km they reach the intersection at Majelletta and the top of the first ascent of the climb. Here they could continue to the right and do the entire Blockhaus climb, but instead they turn left and descend the northernmost approach of the climb, to Manoppello. From here they turn south to Lettomanoppello to start the second ascent of Majelletta after about 168 km. The first 10 km is brutal with an average gradient of about 9 %. The last couple of kms to Passo Lanciano and the last 5 kms from Lanciano to the stage finish by the Hotel Mamma Rosa at Majelletta, is a bit easier, typically 6-7 %, but the total of over 17 km and 8 % makes this a real brutal first mountain stage.

23 km: Rionero Sanntico: 7,3 km, 4,5 %
38 km: Roccaraso: 6,5 km, 6,5 %
89 km: Passo San Leonardo: 16,3 km, 4,6 %
133 km: Passo Lanciano: 12,7 km, 8,3 %
185 km. Passo Lancaino – Majelleta: 17,3 km, 8,0 %


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Giro d'Italia: Stage 6: Chieti – Ascoli, 156 km:

Finally a stage where the sprinters are likely to dominate. Chieti was used as a stage finish for a murito stage in my last Giro version, but this time it’s the location for the stage departure. A route from Chieti to Ascoli could have been designed as a really brutal hilly/medium mountain stage by staying more inland and winding over the hills on the axis from Chieti via Teramo to Ascoli, and perhaps finishing with the tough cat 2 climb to San Giancomo before descending to Ascoli.

But this time the route more or less completely avoids climbs and difficult sections by descending from the hill town of Chieti, and heading straight towards the flat coastline along the Adriatic Sea. The most of stage continues along the coast before turning inland and doing a fairly easy route to the stage finish in Ascoli, making this a good chance for the typical sprinters to win a stage, and for the GC riders to recover for the tough stages coming later.


Stage 5a: Asunción (Velódromo Olímpico del Paraguay) - Asunción (Playa de la Costanera), 13,0km (CRI)



And so we come to the final day of racing, and as is probably no surprise to anybody, we’re heading to Asunción, by far the largest city in Paraguay. Officially only 550.000 people live in Asunción itself, but the conurbation and overall urban area extends to include other outlying towns and cities like Luque, Lambaré, Mariano Roque Alonso, San Lorenzo and Fernando de la Mora, even as far as Areguá, and the urban area therefore accounts for 2,7 million of the country’s seven and a half million inhabitants - just over a third of the country’s population, therefore, calls the Asunción metropolitan area their home.


As a result, therefore, Paraguayan urban, cultural, historical, economic and political life revolves largely around the city as you might expect. One of the oldest and most established cities in all of South America despite its seemingly remote inland location, it was the first city to be established in the Río de la Plata basin as the Spaniards worked their way southwards from the Andes, and it was from here that expeditions set out which led to the establishment of cities like Buenos Aires, Santa Fe de la Cruz and Córdoba in Argentina and Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia. It is believed that its location was first settled by the conquistador Juan de Ayolas, but Asunción itself was established by the party sent to find the missing explorer who had vanished en route to finding a new route to the mines of what was then known as Alto Perú (roughly corresponding to the highland part of Bolivia). Salazar, the leader of the expedition, established a fort named Nuestra Señora Santa María de Asunción as a staging post, as the natives in the area were hospitable and accommodating so it could be fallen back on - which proved very helpful as natives soon kicked the Spanish out of some of their new planned towns and cities leading the population to swell as the pleasant fort with safe passage toward it became a haven for those Spaniards who had been displaced from their new homes by the previous occupants. The city became a major colonial centre and provisions were made to convert the local natives to Christianity in their own language.

Asunción was also the first place that saw a revolution by the criollo and mestizo communities against the colonial powers, a failed uprising in 1731. Although Bernardo de Velasco’s victory over the rebels at Paraguarí had succeeded in uniting Paraguay, it had not succeeded in uniting the nation behind him, and later in 1811, the same year as his great triumph, Velasco was ambushed at his house and deposed by the independence leaders, and Juana María de Lara, the ringleader of the independence movement, proclaimed the nation of Paraguay into being by seceding from Spain. His home, from which the revolution had been planned, is now a museum known as the Casa de la Independencia.

Rapid urbanisation followed, with paved roads, schools, factories and even railroads introduced by successive presidencies Rodríguez de Francía and Carlos António López, but a lot of this progress was undone by López’ son’s disastrous provocation of the Paraguayan War; the city was occupied by the Brazilians in 1869, and they would remain there for seven years until the humiliating treaty that cost Paraguay large swathes of territory that ended it. It was one of the main cities to profit out of the late 19th Century declines of Empire, with many Ottoman Turks and other minorities from the area arriving in the country and catalysing urban redevelopment. One of the main urban parks is named for Carlos António López in honour of the largely lost development that he brought to the city. With the coming of aviation, Asunción was able to return to competitive status, but having fallen well behind the coastal cities for international trade in the intervening period and the oppressive policies of the Stroessner regime, Paraguay was always playing catch-up compared to Montevideo, Buenos Aires and other major cities of the region. In recent years this trend is being reversed, with favourable tax policies attracting overseas investment to the country, with Paraguay ranked as one of the best countries in the entire Latin world for investors, and a rapid improvement in the economic situation in the 2010s. Low prices relative to the rest of Latin America have started to attract retail tourism, and the well-preserved nature of the colonial architecture has brought tourism from outside South America in as well.


Palácio de los López, the seat of government in Paraguay

The city is also, pretty predictably, the heart of sport in Paraguay. Estádio Defensores del Chaco is the national stadium, mainly configured for soccer as it is where the national team play (and has hosted the final of the Copa América in 1999), and has a capacity of 42.000 - this was previously over 50.000, but reprofiling for safety reasons has reduced the total - but other stadia for major teams are dotted all over the city, with Defensores del Chaco, which has no permanent club tenant, often stepping in as a de facto ground for large fixtures between teams in the Asunción metropolitan area where demand for seating would be at a premium, or when Paraguayan teams host large or attractive fixtures in the Copa Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana. The main team in the area is Club Olímpia, Paraguay’s most historic and successful team, but Club Libertad, Guaraní, Nacional de Asunción and Cerro Porteño mean there is a healthy amount of major rivalry around Asunción. Also notice how Tigo - an offshoot of Luxembourgish telecommunications firm Millicom - sponsor nearly all of these teams, with a dominant market share in Paraguay.

We’re not so interested in the football stadia, however, as we are starting off at the national Olympic complex, Secretaría Nacional de Deportes. This large Parque Olímpico cluster is close to Asunción airport and technically speaking is in Luque although well within the Asunción urban sprawl, and played host to the majority of the events at the 2022 Juegos Suramericanos. This is a large complex with a number of indoor arenas, stadia, swimming pools etc. to create a full national sporting academy AND elite international venues. The national Olympic stadium was renovated for the competitions, while sports which were part of the program but underrepresented in Paraguay saw venues constructed. SND Arena was inaugurated in 2018 to provide a high quality indoor arena that could host sports like handball, basketball, volleyball, futsal and in-line skating (surprisingly popular as a participation sport in South America, makes you wonder whether speed skating could be rejuvenated with a venue or two), while crucially for our sport, a brand new velodrome - the first international standard indoor velodrome in the country - was constructed as part of the complex as well - and it is at this venue that we will start our final day’s work, with a short ITT in the morning which departs from the velodrome.

While the track events of the Juegos Suramericanos were held at the velodrome, the road events were held on the Avenida Costanera, which as its name suggests is a coastal thoroughfare which runs along the banks of the Río Paraguay and the Bahía de Asunción. You can see it in the foreground on the left of the cityscape photo above, in fact. It was the site of Paraguay’s great cycling triumph, in fact - with Colombia absolutely decimating the track competition and dominating most disciplines, Paraguay got a great boost when home athlete Agua Marina Espinola upset the favourites to take gold in the time trial, beating Lina Hernández of Colombia and mythical climber Lilibeth Chacón of Venezuela by almost a minute over 27,7km.

My TT is nothing like as long as that - it would totally overbalance a race with only a 2km HTF and one hilly stage - so I have gone with a pretty straightforward route from the velodrome to the Playa de la Costanera, maybe not by the most direct route, but by the quickest in terms of major routes with the minimum of disruption to a major capital city. We head via the Botanical Gardens toward the recently constructed Puente Heróes del Chaco, before then following the coastal dual carriageway through the river wetlands reserve to the Bahía de Asunción where we finish at the Playa de la Costanera, on the Avenida José Asunción Flores, named for the great composer and songwriter who established the “Guaranía” genre of music, after being inspired to establish a variety of music that would uniquely synthesise the Spanish and wider Latin American styles with the native music of Paraguay, to distinguish it from the other regional varieties in South America at the time. It is distinguished by European-influenced accordion parts alongside melancholic chords and slow but propulsive rhythms driven by the style of playing the melodic instruments rather than percussion. It became popular for patriotic purposes and was widely disseminated during the Chaco War, and in 1944 Flores’ song India was declared the Paraguayan national song. Flores however declined the National Order of Merit in 1949 in response to the killing of a student at a peaceful protest by governmental forces, and he was exiled from the country under Stroessner as a “national traitor” as a result. Although his music was banned, it remained widely disseminated as so many copies had been sold in the 1930s and 40s, but he never saw his homeland again, living in Buenos Aires until his death in 1972. In 1991, following the ousting of Stroessner, his remains were repatriated back to Paraguay and entombed in a square bearing his name.

My hope is that the time gaps in the race will not have grown so large that the TT cannot be decisive, but also that the TT being short will incentivise the stronger climbers to really make a big deal of stage 4 to put the flatter engines out of contention.

Stage 5b: Asunción (Playa de la Costanera) - Asunción (Playa de la Costanera), 104km



So, the time trial finished at the Playa de la Costanera, so I should give a bit of background on the reason for this as a location, since I am now finishing the race outright with a short, flat semitappe which is essentially a circuit race that starts and finishes at the same location as the ITT in the morning did.

The main reason is that this shoreline boulevard was the location of the 2022 Juegos Suramericanos road race, however sadly I was unable to locate footage of the races, other than this short clip of the women’s road race finish. As with a few of these limited entry championship races, the small field and difference in levels between athletes results in more competitive races over such short or featureless circuits than might otherwise be the case (as cases in point see the Commonwealth Games RR in Delhi in 2010, or the European Games RR in Baku in 2015); the women’s race was only 82km in length and was settled by a group of six who escaped; Paraguay’s hopes were dashed with nobody making the selection and in fact Venezuela were the only team with two (neither of whom was Chacón!!!), which helped them to victory as Jennifer César won the sprint ahead of Colombian prospect Lina Marcela Hernández and now-European-based Chilean Aranza Villalón, while the men’s race over 164km was also won by Venezuela in the same fashion, this time from a somewhat larger group that splintered down late on and so the sprint was from a group of 5 where the Venezuelans were the best represented, with Caja Rural’s fast-finishing Orluís Aular victorious ahead of veteran Uruguayan Roderyck Ascóneguy; Leangel Linárez was able to hold on for bronze after leading Aular out, meaning Nelson Soto of Colombia - who lost his spot at Caja Rural when Aular was signed - was relegated to 4th.


Victory for Venezuela!

As you can see from the above photo, in the Juegos Suramericanos the city was to the riders’ right at the finish so they must have been headed eastbound. I am not doing that, because it would have either overbalanced the TT, or caused me to have to manually map the last stage in its entirety because of using the wrong side of the road, and frankly I couldn’t be bothered to do that for a circuit race. I have therefore placed the finish on the shoreline side of the road, adjacent to the Playa de la Costanera, the city’s main beach, a sandy expanse that runs along the Bahía de Asunción and offers a wide range of activities; with Paraguay being landlocked like it is, this shoreline beach and the width of the Río Paraguay at this point (maybe not akin to the St. Lawrence in my Tour de Québec, but wide enough to feel like a genuine shoreline even if there is no tide) and the tranquility of the lagoon, has become a major getaway and meeting spot for the great and good of Asunción. The Avenida José Asunción Flores runs along a brand new esplanade - completed in 2012 - and cafes, facilities providing Watersport activities and other amenities have sprung up along the shoreline as a result.

My circuit is much shorter than that which was seen in the Juegos Suramericanos; it is just a 6,9km circuit, rather than extending out as far as the Puente Heróes del Chaco, instead effectively serving as an out-and-back with its easternmost extent at the Rotonda Costanera and its westernmost extent at the Puerto de Asunción river port, from which passenger river trips that connect parts of the country and also connect Asunción with the wider continent, as well as freight and cargo, depart and arrive. However rather than being a pure out-and-back on the esplanade, on the western end of the circuit we do circle around the Palácio de los López in order to showcase some of the history of Asunción as well as its modern development; we then descend back to the shoreline at Plaza España - this enables us to use the spacious car parks on Avenida Río Ypané and the unused section of the eastbound carriageway of Avenida José Asunción Flores between Plaza España and the Puerto de Asunción to host team buses, podiums, and all of the other trappings of a race. You can see from this picture what I mean here - we will ride up the right hand side at the start of the circuit, loop around a block and arrive back on the shoreline from the road on the left, affording the car park on the left and the left hand side of the esplanade carriageway for logistics.


Finish on the right hand carriageway here, probably using that widening in the middle ground as a location for the logistical needs of the finishing line

This will, basically, be a short and very flat circuit race. I’ve put in three intermediate sprints because I’ve put three intermediate sprints in all road stages; with 3, 2 and 1 seconds at each intermediate and 10 seconds for the win, in theory if you had somebody who could sprint who is also a pretty useful time triallist then maybe they would have a chance to use the 19 seconds of bonuses available here to overturn losses from stages 3 and 4, but most likely this will be a parade at the top end of the GC at least (some places might be up for grabs lower down I guess).

So there you have it - a five stage race, with the last day including two semitappes, which will hopefully offer a nice range of options for the riders; three likely sprints, two of which (the first and last stages) should be specialised to pure sprinters, and the third has that 700m at 6% ascent close to the line which gives us a bit of prospect for classics-types to succeed, or alternatively for the stage to suit a more versatile, stronger sprinter than the pure power guys. Then we have a short-to-mid-length ITT, and two hilly stages, one of which features short and very steep (and cobbled) climbing, the other features more conventional and less challenging, but much more frequent, climbing. Time gaps in this race ought to be relatively small so there ought to be something to play for all the time except possibly arguably the final circuit race - and hopefully, of course, it can help Paraguay capitalise on the investment that they have had to make in the sport as part of their commitments in hosting the South American Games, and make it worth their while. They’ve got a world class velodrome now so they can look to produce more successful track cyclists - let’s see what they can do about the road now.

Good, work, LS. The cobbled murito looks great, and I would happily watch a race finishing there!
Giro d'Italia: Stage 7: Ascoli - Macerta, 209 km

After an easier stage 6, we're back to a brutal hilly stage, and this time some proper murito madness. From the stage start in Ascoli the riders head east and then northwards. Between 20 and 40 km they cross a couple steep valley sides including one categorized climb, to Cossignano after 30 km. They descend and continue eastwards to the Adriatic Coast and then continue north along the coastline for over 80 kms. Most of this section is flat, but when approaching Ancona they encounter some easier and uncategorized hills.

Just before reaching Ancona they turn southwest and head inland. Another couple of more gentle climbs before the brutal and decsive part of the stage starts with a little less than 50 kms left. Just after 160 km they turn of SP3 and head back north to climb the uncategorized Monte Cerno climb. This is a two-step climb where the first half is the toughest with about 700m at 10 %. After a short descent the real murito madness starts. In about 40 kms they do almost all of the muritos used in TA the later years. First a climb to Osimo where the steepest part is 700m at 14 %. This is shortly followed by the uncategorized Castelfidardo with a max of 800m at over 13 %.

Again a short descent, an about 4 km flat section before the next murito, this time to Recanati where the max is 1 km at almost 14 %. Things are heating up and getting more brutal. After the top of Recanati, a new and this time a bit gentler descent follows, then a new flat section, a bit longer than last time before the climb to Montelupone starts after about 193 km and with just below 15 kms left.


This climb is in a way the original murito, where Joaquin Rodriguez won in the Tirreno-Adriactico in 2008. Then and the year after it was used as a stage finish. Now it's about 13 km from the top to the stage finish in Macerta. Brutal the whole way with several sections of 15-16 % it will surely blow things even more apart than already earlier on the stage. After a section of about 10 kms of partially flat and rolling terrain follows, then a short descent before the last climb to the finish town of Macerta. The main part of the last climb is about 2 km at 7,5 %, where the steepest section is 500m at 10 %. It becomes gradually easier with 5 and 4 % the last part before a 1,4 km flat section to the stage finish.

30 km: Cossignano, 2,6 km, 8,3 %
170 km: Osimo: 1,4 km, 9,1 %
186 km: Recanati: 1,6 km, 9,4 %
196 km: Montelupone: 2 km, 10,6 %


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Giro d'Italia: Stage 8: Fabriano – Pesaro, 199 km:

Another stage for the sprinters, there won’t be many more of these in the rest of the Giro. From Macerta, the peloton have moved northwest for the stage start in Fabriano. From the start they move northeast, again towards the Adriatic. The three toughest climbs on the stage are on the first 40 km, but none of them are categorized. After about 70 kms they reach the coast and continue north. The last two thirds of stage move up along the coast and zig-zag a bit inland, but not far enough to reach the more hilly terrain. After about 180 kms they loop north of the finish town of Pesaro and then back into the town for a flat finish. This should definitely be a sprinter’s stage.


Giro d'Italia: Stage 9: Forli – Sestola:

Last stage before rest day 1, and it’s yet another big medium mountain stage and the last stage in the Apennines in this version. The riders will have moved north, to Forli in Emilia-Romagna, for the start of the stage. From here they head east into the Emilian Apennines which are excellent terrain for hilly and medium mountain stages. The first part is flat before a long false flat section up the Lamona Valley before they turn right and start the first categorized climb, the cat 2 to Passo Carnivale.

This is followed immediately by another cat 2 climb, now passing into the Toscana region. From this point the riders continue northwest in Toscana, traversing several cat 2 and 3 climbs towards the higher parts of the Tuscan Apennines. The last 50 kms is more or less up and down the entire time, with steeper climbs than earlier on the stage. After descending from Querciola, they are on the main road to the stage finish in Sestola.

With about 20 kms left, they turn off the main road and do an uncategorized climb which is very steep in the beginning, about 11 % for a 1 km. After a short descent they are back on the main road only to pass right through the village of Fasano and directly start the last climb to Colle Passerino, a short but very steep cat 2 climb. The last 4 km of the climb is close to 10 %, before a short flat loop around the town to finish in the centre of Sestola.

58 km: Passo Carnivale: 5,8 km, 6,4 %
71 km: Valico del Paretaio: 7,7 km, 5,9 %
102 km: Traversa: 3,9 km, 8,9 %
159 km: Pietracolara: 8,0 km, 7,9 %
179 km: Querciola: 4,1 km, 7,9 %
204 km: Colle del Passerino: 5,7 km, 8,6 %


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Giro d'Italia: Stage 10: Padova – Montefalcone, 219 km

The probably least noticeable and memorable stage of this Giro, a completely flat transition stage along the flat plains in Friuli Venezia. From the start in Padova, they head first directly north to Cittadella and then eastwards for the rest of the stage. They almost reach the Slovenian border before turning south to the stage finish in Montefalcone at very bottom of the Golfo di Trieste.


Giro d'Italia: Stage 11: Cividale del Friuli - Tarcento, 245 km

About halfway in the Giro, and finally they have approached the mountains in the northern regions of Italy. But they start the last half with a rarely brutal medium mountain stage in the eastern hills of Friuli, with a detour into Slovenia. The stage starts in Cividale del Friuli with a couple of loops into the hills east of Cividale. This is a area with steep medium length clims along narrow roads with potentially dangerous descents. It has been used in the Giro a couple of times, most noticeable in 2016 where they used the narrow roads to Porzus and Valle before descending to Cividale for the stage finish. In they did the Madonna del Domm as the first climb like in this version and in 2022 they finished at Santuario del Castelmonte above Cividale.

After descending from Madonnina they again turn east and climbs towards Monteaperta before descending onto the main road into Slovenia, where the immidiately start the climb to Passo Tanamea where the top is reached after 67 km. Here they will come the other way towards the end of the stage. From Tanamea there is a descent, short new climb as they pass into Slovenia and descend towards the town of Bovec. After passing through Bovec, there is a longer easy section of about 30 kms with flat and false flat before the tough cat 1 climb to Vrsic starts. A long and tough climb, this could split the peloton apart if there is set a proper pace. The descent takes the riders into Kransjka Gora, the most famous ski resport in Slovenia.

From Kransjka Gora they head up the valley, passing the exit to the ski resport and ski jumping hill in Plancia and continuing back towards Italy. The middle third is the easiest section of this stage. First with a 30 km fairly flat into Italy. As they pass the town of Tarvisio, they turn south, first for a gentle false flat section and then the fairly easy cat 3 climb to the small ski resport of Sella Nevea. This is followed by a 10 km descent and a 20 km flat section down the valley, passing Chiusaforte and then exiting the main road the village of Resiutta and heading into the Resia Valley. After about 7 km up the valley, 205 km into the stage, the real decisive part starts, the climb to Sella Carnizza.


The climb averages about 11 % over 6 km, but the last part is even steeper with kms of 14 and 15 %. Over 200 km into the stage this is really a brutal wall to face and should shatter the remaining peloton completely. Also a fairly ideal design for a big long range attack since the stage comes after a rest day and an easier stage and before an easier stage. With about 34 kms left from the top of Carnizza followed by an easier cat 3 climb to Tanamea and then a last 20 km descent into the stage finish in Tarcento, a real big attack on the last steep part of Carnizza could really open up some big gaps and provide some proper racing.

17 km: Monte Caludranza/Madonnina del Doom: 8,5 km, 7,2 %
48 km: Monteaperta: 3,5 km, 7,5 %
67 km: Passo Tanamea: 9,7 km, 5,3 %
121 km: Passo Moistrocca/Vrsic: 13,2 km, 7,8 %
171 km: Sella Nevea: 4 km, 4,7 %
211 km: Sella Carnizza: 6,4 km, 11,3 %
225 km: Passo Tanamea: 4,7 km, 5,1 %


Giro d'Italia: Stage 12: Udine - Belluno, 175 km

One of the last stages in this Giro that could be suitable for a mass sprint. The stage starts in Udine, the second largest city of Friuli. From here they ride west, cross the Tagliamento river and start the toughest climb of the stage just after the river crossing. After descending they could head into more hilly and mountainous terrain, but stay in the lower lying valleys, but climb the cat 3 to Passo San Osvaldo and descend into the Piave valley for a easy last part to Belluno. They go past Belluno and loop back into the city on the south side of the Piave river, for a flat and uncomplicated finish of the stage. The stage should be fairly easy to control for the sprinter's teams, but it could also end in a breakway win since it's crammed between two much tougher stages and therefore many teams would like to save energy for the next day.

50 km: Vito d'Asio: 7 km, 5,5 %
113 km: Passo San Osvaldo: 2,5 km, 6,6 %


Giro d'Italia, Stage 13: Cortina d'Ampezzo - Alpe di Siusi, 198 km

First big mountain stage in the Alps or Dolomites and incorporates a design with two objectives. First I think that a Giro should have a couple of stages with a big MTF, and then rather a longer climb like Bondone, Grappa or Siusi than these 8-10 km, 9-10 % climbs that have been popular the later years. Siusi have been used a couple of times, but as a MTT and the only MTF in a road race were via the more underwhelming approach from Prato all'Isarco. In addition there is a couple of climbs in the Dolomites I think should be more frequently used, both Furcia and especially the extremely scenic Passo delle Erbe. This stage includes both these and a big MTF to Alpe d'Siusi to create really big mountain stage.

The start is in Cortina d'Ampezzo, the biggest town and most important resort in the Dolomites. Usually when starting in Cortina, one would expect the riders would head west over Falzarego or Giau, but they instead head west over Tre Croci and are on their way out of the Dolomites. But instead of continuing east into Friuli, they north north and successively climb Sant'Antonio and Monte Croce which is reached after about 59 km. This is followed by the easiest section of the stage, first a descent and then an about 30 km flat section through Sextental. Passing the ski resort of Toblach, they continue through Pustertal before reaching the exit to Passo Furcia. Although rather centrally placed and could serve as a connection between Pustertal and Val Badia, it is rarely used. Last two times was from the west and in conjunction with a MTT to Kronplatz.

Now it leads into the tougher and higher climb of Passo delle Erbe and is the starting point for the real tough part of the stage. After starting the climb to Furcia, there are barely any flat sections. From the desent of Furcia, they just pass through the hamlet of Longenga and directly start the two-step climb to Passo delle Erbe. An extremely scenic climb and close to other big climbs and possible finish locations, it's almost strange it hasn't been used in the Giro since 2005. Both sections of the climb are tough, first 4 kms at 9-11 %, followed by a short descent and a couple of easier kms and then another 5 kms of 9-11 % to the top. The descent on the other side is longer and less steep and leads directly into the next climb, Lajon, another 6 km at over 10 %.

From Lajon they descend to Val Gardena, where you could have several options for climbing. Either continuing up to Ortisei or even over Passo Gardena, to climb to Passo di Pinei, descend to Castelrotto and then climb the last part to Alpe di Siusi, or as this stage to; descend all the way to Ponte Gardena and then climb the 16 km long and consecutive climb to the stage finish in Compatsch, Alpe di Siusi. A brutal climb, especially after doing Furcia and the steep Erbe and Lajon climbs. An early attack on Siusi could wreck havoc and great some massive gaps on GC riders that are tired already early on the finish climb.

8 km: Passo Tre Croci: 8,2 km, 7,1 %
44 km: Passo di Sant'Antonio: 5,3 km, 8,2 %
59 km: Passo Monte Croce: 9,3 km, 4,5 %
107 km: Passo di Furcia: 11,1 km, 6,8 %
134 km: Passo delle Erbe: 14,3 km, 6,7 %
166 km: Lajon: 6,1 km, 10,2 %
198 km: Alpe di Siusi: 16,6 km, 8,2 %


Giro d'Italia: Stage 14: Bolzano - Trento, 172 km

Very probably the most typical breakway stage of this Giro. Two cat 1 climbs makes it a fairly tough stage, and a suitable option for good climbs that are not in the GC race. After the start in Bolzano, the riders head south on the western side of Eschtal. At Auer they cross the valley and start the climb to San Lugano. From the top of that climb, they descent towards the Val di Fiemme and the ski resort most known for cross country skiing. Just before they reach the village they turn and go back west and back down to Eschtal. After a short while along the valley floor they turn west and start the climb to the village of Andalo. This was the stage finish for a short mountain stage won by Valverde in the 2016 Giro.

From the top in Andalo they descend past the village of Molveno and the exceptionally scenic alpine lake with the same name. The descent is fairly easy and not too steep. After about 150 km they reach the valley floor at Ponte Arche before turning left and east towards the stage finish in Trento, trailing just north of the Monte Bondone massive.

40 km: Passo di San Lugano: 15,5 km, 5,4 %
117 km: Andalo: 12,5 km, 5,9 %


Giro d'Italia: Stage 15: Trento - Rovereto, 148 km

Last stage before the second and last rest day. For several years I've called for mountain stages in the area between Rovereto and Trento and especially east of the two towns. Here there are a good selection of steep and medium length climbs that could be used to create tough and even brutal mountain stages that are less exposed at bad weather days than the high altitude climbs in the central Alps and Dolomites. RCS have done several stages in this region the later years, but have a tendency to finish with a MTF, and even a rather steep one that disourages attacks rather than the very last kms. Like Sega di Ala in 2021 and Lavarone last year.

This time we use some of the same climbs, but in a different fashion, and hopefully encouarge attacks from far out. The stage starts in Trento and takes the riders eastwards in the Valsugana valley. At Pergine after about 15 kms they start the first climb of the stage, the 10 km, cat 1 climb to Vetriolo Terme. This was also used in the 2022 Giro before descending, crossing the valley floor and immdieately start the climb to Menador, just as they did last year. But this time they aren't finishing at Lavarone, just past the top of the climb, but continue along the plateau, climbing Passo Sommo, passing through Folgaria and then starting the descent towards Rovereto.

About halfway down they turn left, off the main road and start on a smaller road climbing back towards the plataeu, to the small village of Serrada. Not a long climb, but again rather steep, almost 9 %. After Serrada, this time they descend and pass through Rovereto, where they will finish about 40 kms later. Just past Rovereto, they pass through the village of Isera, and then start the finale of the stage with the steepest climb of the stage, to Monte Faé.

The first part of the climb is about 8-10 % like the previous climbs of the stage, but the last 2,5 kms averages over 12 %, making this an excellent point for a real long range attack. Here it should be possible to create some real gaps before the short 5 km descent, where they pass through Valico San Felice and start the final climb of the stage, to Passo Bordala. This have more normal gradients of 6-7 %, but it with an attack on Fae it could provide some real action on the climb and the descent to the stage finish in Rovereto. From the end of the descent there is only about 3 kms to the finish. Not a very long stage, but a perfect set-up for aggressive racing with a rest day coming up the following day.


26 km: Vetriolo Terme: 10,3 km, 8,2 %
51 km: Menador: 8,7 km, 9,1 %
67 km: Passo Sommo: 4,4 km, 6,6 %
85 km: Serrada: 6,4 km, 8,8 %
116 km: Monte Fae: 7,1 km, 10 %
130 km: Passo Bordala 9,5 km, 6,9 %


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Giro d'Italia: Stage 16: Brescia - Brescia, 60 km ITT

Second and last ITT of this Giro. During the rest day they have moved a bit south and around Lago Garda to the Lombardia region and Brescia. From here they will do a clockwise loop in the hills north of the city. There are two climbs on the stage, where the first is categorized and reached just before the halfway point of the stage. From there the descend a bit and do another climb on fairly low gradients, about 5 kms at 4-5 %, where the top is crossed just after 40 kms. The last 20 km of the stage is first a low gradient descent before a final flat section into the stage finish in Brescia. A long and tough ITT, suitable for GC contenders that also are capable in hills. Probably a very typical Evenepoel ITT.

27 km: Lumezzane: 7,7 km, 4,4 %


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Giro d'Italia: Stage 17: Salo - Bormio 2000, 216 km

Another big mountain stage and one of perhaps two proper queen stages of this Giro. The stage starts in Salò at the southwestern bank of the Garda lake, also known for the infamous movie from 1975 with the same name. From the start they move nortwest to reach the shores of Garda's little brother, Lago d'Idro. They continue north along the eastern shore of the lake into Valli Giudicarie. Up along the valley there is an uncategorized climb between 60 and 70 kms and after descending from this they reach a fork in the road where they could turn east and head back to Trento. Instead they soon exit the main road to start the climbing and fun part of the stage with the steep climb to Passo Daone.

The top of the climb is reached after about 84 kms, from which there is a tricky descent and a false flat that leads directly in to the next climb, to Campo Carlo Magno just above the famous ski resport of Madonna di Campiglio. Some times used as an usually underwhelming MTF, this time it just passed rather early on the stage. After descending into Val di Sole where they turn left for another section of false flat before the categorized part to Passo del Tonale starts. About the same length and gradient as Carlo Magno, this mostly serves to soften the riders legs before bigger things to come. The top of Tonale is reached with about 61 kms left, followed by an about 10 km descent to Ponte di Legno, where they turn right to start the probably desicive part of the stage.

From Ponte di Legno there is about 17 kms to Cima Coppi at Passo di Gavia. Often used in the Giro, but in the later years it have often been earlier in the stages and not as a decisive part. The last time it played a certain role was in 2010 when they came the other way and finished at Tonale and in 2004 when they did the same combo as in this stage, but in a much shorter and easier stage. The length and gradients for the last two thirds of the climb, combined with the high altitude, could make this a stage where it is possible to gain minutes rather than seconds. Also bad weather and dangerous conditions, like snow, can play a part when they go as high as 2600m. The descent is also challenging, although not on the level with the way they came up, where the descent is considered close to dangerous. From the top there is almost 25 kms descent before they reach the ski resport of Bormio. Just before reaching the central part of the town, they turn left to start the last 8 kms of the stage, to the ski station of Bormio 2000.

84 km: Passo Daone: 8,1 km, 9,2 %
114 km: Passo Campo Carlo Magno: 15,4 km, 5,7 %
155 km: Passo del Tonale: 15,1 km, 5,9 %
182 km: Passo di Gavia: 17 km, 7,7 %
216 km: Bormio 2000: 8,5 km, 8, 5%


Giro d'Italia: Stage 18: Sondrio - Como, 195 km

Okay, time to finish this version of the Giro. From Bormio, the peloton have transferred to Sondrio in the Valellina valley. From here they will start a Il Lombardia-ish stage, doing parts of the route that are used when the classics ends in Como, like in this stage. A bit easier than the one day classic, this stage is very proably more a typical breakaway stage for strong hilly riders than a stage for the GC contenders.

From the start in Sondrio they will loop up and down the valley side a couple of times in the first part of the stage. The first climb to the village of Castione Andevenno starts almost immidiately and could form the decisice breakaway of the stage. After descending back to the valley floor there is a flat section of about 25 kms before the second climb up the northern side of the valley, this time to the small village of Cercino. Soon after descending they reach the northeastern shore of Lago di Como and continue south along the lake. After about 70 kms, they start the toughest climb of the stage, to Introzzo and past Premana, a climb that was used in GdL in the early 2000s.

After the passing Premana, they head back down towards the lake but turn and head back higher into the hills via Taceno, another climb used in earlier years in GdL. From there they will do the typical loop around the lake, first down to Lecco at the southeastern arm of the lake, then back up along the shore, almost to the famous village of Bellagio. Just before reaching the village they turn and start the most used and famous of all climbs typically used in Il lombardia, to the Madonna del Ghisallo. In earlier versions, before Muro di Sormano was introduced, this was often the decisive point of the race, as it could be for this stage. The first part of the climb is the by far toughest part and could be the place for a decsive attack from a breakaway.

After passing the church and the Marco Pantani monument at the top, they descend and start a 15 km rather flat section before the last climb, to Civiglio. This time it is climed from the easier eastern approach and followed by a rather steep and difficult descent into Como for a last 2 km loop in the city to the stage finish. Probably not a stage for the GC contenders to attack, but it could still be a very good breakaway stage.

9 km: Castione Andevenno: 2,8, 6,7 %
44 km: Cercino: 5,1 km, 6,5 %
79 km: Introzzo: 8,3 km, 6,8 %
161 km: Madonna del Ghisallo: 8,7 km, 5,4 %
188 km: Civiglio: 2,6 km, 6,7 %


Giro d'Italia: Stage 19: Como - Biella, 181 km

Third last stage and it's probably the last chance for the spinters in this Giro. They start in Como and more or less head westwards the entire stage. First past the northern outskirts of the Milano metropolitan area, pass just south of Lago Maggiore, before they cross into the Piemonte region. Here they could have headed north for a more medium mountain finish of the stage in terrain just west of Lago Maggiore, but they instead continue towards the stage finish in Biella, trailing just south of the more hilly terrain in the region. There are none difficulties of significance on the stage, the only climb is a cat 3 with just under 40 kms left. So if the sprinter teams still have enough riders to control the stage, this is the last good opportunity for a mass sprint when they reach the finish town of Biella.

143 km: Montaldo: 3,3 km, 5,1 %


Giro d'Italia: Stage 20: Ivrea - Courmayeur, 210 km

Penultimate stage and last big mountain stage in this Giro. Probably also the queen stage along with the Bormio 2000 stage. A brutal mountain stage in the Aosta region, looping up and down in the climbs on the northern side of the Aosta valley with the little sister of Mortirolo-Aprica as the finish of the stage. From the previous day they have moved a bit east, to Ivrea, for the stage start. Ivrea lies about at the base of the Aosta valley and the first 30 kms are a flat section up the valley. They pass the exit by Verres to Col Zuccore, a brutal climb also uses a few times in the Giro, and start the first climb of the day after about 46 kms.

The combo of Panthaleon and Barthelemy have been used a couple of times as a lead-in to a MTF in Breuil-Cervinia, just at base of Matterhorn, usually an underwhelming MTF. But this time they are going the other way, and after descending doing those two climbs in rapid order, they descend back into the valley and a short flat section as they pass just through the regional capital, Aosta, and start the third climb of the stage to Verrogne. Not as long as the two first, but a bit steeper, this should help to further soften the riders legs for the big finish of the stage. After descending from Verrogne, they pass about 150 kms into the stage, and start another climb, to Cheverel. This is basically the same climb called La Salle used in the similar Giro stage in 2019, but this time they go much further up the hillside.

The descent from Cheverel could be a bit tricky, but as it comes just before the biggest and most decisive climb it isn't that likely that the riders will take big risks on the descent. Back on the valley floor, they've passed 175 kms and then start the main climb of the stage, to Colle San Carlo.


It has been used a couple of times in the recent Giro history. In 2006 Piepoli and Basso dropped the rest by a big margin when they finished in the small village in La Thulie. In 2019 Richard Carapaz made a big solo effort to win in a similar stage to this one. They will probaly enter the climb with a very reduced peoloton, and after a long and tough Giro and several tough climbs earlier on the stage and almost 200 kms in their legs, a big attack on San Carlo could open up some real massive gaps. From the top there is about 23 kms left, so there is still some racing to do. They descend towards the main road to Col de Petit San Bernard, but continue down the road instead uphill to the pass. From the valley floor there is an about 8 km section with 3 % gradient to the stage finish in Courmayeur.

64 km: Col de Saint Panthaleon: 17,3 km, 6,4 %
95 km: Saint Barthelemy: 15 km, 6,5 %
135 km: Verrogne: 13,2 km, 7,5 %
165 km: Cheverel: 9,6 km, 7,9 %
187 km: Colle San Carlo: 9,7 km, 10,2 %


Giro d'Italia: Stage 21: Aosta - Torino, 181 km

Last stage of this Giro, and this time they don't finish in Milano, nor Verona, Rome or Brescia. But in Torino. And not by an easy flat stage or ITT, but a fairly tough medium mountain stage which could encouarge some crazy attacks if the GC is close enough before the last day.

From Aosta the first half of the stage is easy, riding first east and then south in the Aosta valley and then cross some of the westernmost part of the flat Po basin. As they pass Chivasso just northeast of Torino, they soon after start the difficult part of the stage. First with a couple of cat 3 climbs of San Rocco and Sciolze before approaching the two climbs the could be really decisive. First the climb to Superga, which for some years were the main climb of the Milano-Torino one day classic. Not very long, but rather steep, it is possible to mount a big attack here for riders still relatively fresh after that big mountain stage the day before.

After Superga, this time they descend almost the entire way to Torino to do the full climb of Colle della Maddalena, a climb suprisingly little used to lie just outside of the the biggest cities in Italy. The top of the climb is reached with only 9 kms left, from which there is a short desent and then an only 3 km flat section to the stage finish in Torino. Not much time to rest in the final stage here for the GC contenders as it often is in the last stage of GTs.

111 km: Chieseta di San Rocco: 4,3 km, 7,2 %
128 km: Sciolze: 3,8 km, 6,1 %
151 km: Superga: 4,6 km, 8,7 %
172 km: Colle Della Maddalena: 6,4 km, 7,3 %


Giro d'Italia v6 summary:

Stage 1: Napoli - Napoli, 19 km ITT
Stage 2: Napoli - Salerno, 208 km
Stage 3: Salerno - Melfi, 192 km
Stage 4: Foggia - Isernia, 215 km
Stage 5: Isernia - Passo Lanciano - Majelletta, 185 km
Stage 6: Chieti - Ascoli, 156 km
Stage 7: Ascoli - Macerta, 209 km
Stage 8: Fabriano - Pesaro, 199 km
Stage 9: Forli - Sestola, 209 km
Stage 10: Padova - Montefalcone, 219 km
Stage 11: Cividale del Friuli - Tarcento, 245 km
Stage 12: Udine - Belluno, 175 km
Stage 13: Cortina d'Ampezzo - Alpe di Siusi, 198 km
Stage 14: Bolzano - Trento, 172 km
Stage 15: Trento - Rovereto, 148 km
Stage 16: Brescia - Bresia, 60 km ITT
Stage 17: Salo - Bormio 2000, 216 km
Stage 18: Sondrio - Como, 195 km
Stage 19: Como - Biella, 181 km
Stage 20: Ivrea - Coumayeur, 210 km
Stage 21: Aosta - Torino, 181 km

Total: 3792 km
Cima Coppi: Passo Gavia, 2621 m
5 HC climbs (Passo Lanciano x 2, Passo delle Erbe, Alpe di Siusi, Passo Gavia, Cole San Carlo), 17 cat 1 climbs, 24 cat 2 climbs

3 High MTF (Passo Lanciano, Alpe di Siusi, Bormio 2000)
1 easy MTF after big climb (Courmayeur)
3 descent finishes (Rovereto, Sestola, Tarcento)
79 km of ITT
6 hilly/medium moutain stages including big murito stage
6 flat/mostly flat stages

Final notes:
The main objetive for this Giro was to create some sort of ultimate Giro, a version that is brutally tough and had many stage with potential for aggressive racing and to create big gaps, but still was fairly realistic and could in some sense be used in real life. The main aspect with is Giro is a handful of selected stages with significant length, a high number of height meters and design that could prompt attacks from far out. This is especially the intention with the monster medium mountain stage to Tarcento, including Sella Carnizza, the Rovereto stage with the Fae-Bordala combo and the last mountain stage with the San Carlo-Courmayeur combo.

In addition there are a couple of big MTFs to Passo Lanciano and Alpe di Siusi and big climb followed by a medium big MTF of Bormio 2000. And not the least, the murito madness stage in Marche where Montelupone at suitable length from the stage finish. I've actually saved some of the climbs and combos and climbs and deliberately not using them in previous Giro version, waiting for this one. This applies especially to the double Passo Lanciano-Majelletta ascent and the Rovereto finish via Fae and Bordala. I've also included two of the many very good big-small climb combos in Italy as the focal point for the two queen stages to Bormio 2000 and Courmayeur.

The only issue actually was limiting myself as I first created longer and tougher version of some of the stages, which in total could have made this Giro not just hard, but crazy hard. The first version to Sestola included an extra loop of Sestola and a double ascent of Colle Passerino, making the stage over 240 kms. Same for the Trento-Rovereto stage. I first made a version of over 200 km including a couple of extra climbs, but made an easier stage for the final version. The Como stage also was tougher to start with. But in the end I think this Giro was fairly balanced, and just are kept within limits to be considered realistically tough.
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