The Giro d’Italia is set amongst some of Southern Europe’s most beautiful mountain ranges and landscapes, spreading across the entirety of Italy. The 2014 route, after an initial stint in Ireland, starts in the south in Bari, with the final stage ending in the North-Eastern city of Trieste.
As always with the Giro, this year’s course promises a large portion of mountain stages, passing through the Apennine mountains and the Italian Alps. 22 teams from all over the world will battle it out to a backdrop of Mediterranean scenery, struggling against the country’s harsh, uneven terrain; a stark contrast to the usual romantic connotations associated with Italy.
Stand out stages
To paraphrase a famous Mancunian songwriter, some stages are bigger than others, and in the Giro that’s definitely the case. In this pre-event feature, we’re going to look at the stages to watch out for, the biggest climbs, sharpest bends and most competitive courses. Some say the Giro is the toughest tour of the big three, with 3446km of gruelling roads this year, and many have dropped out along the way. These are the stages that will make or break even the hardest nails of the cycling world.
Stage 8 – Foligno → Montecopiolo (174km)
The eight stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia is not only a lengthy 174km, but it also features the Cippo di Carpegna, an 11% gradient with a severe 8km of ‘pure climb’ as it’s fearfully been described as by former conquerors and victims alike. The route around Carpegna features a 20km ascent in total.
Stage 11 – Collecchio → Savona (249km)
On what looks like the longest route of the Giro d’Italia, stage 11 will see the riders head across peaks and troughs in the provinces of Parma and Savona, tackling 249km of ever-changing terrain.
Just past the half way point of this stage, there’s a flat stretch which may leave some riders falsely comfortable, they’ll have to conserve their energy efficiently to survive the Naso di Gatto climb towards the finish line.
Stage 12 – Barbaresco → Barolo (42km Time Trial)
The undulating nature of stage 12 is typical of time trial stages, and will prove to be an all-round test of speed and endurance for those looking to make up time on this stage. With the first and last sections of this race being the toughest, riders will have to be cautious to take it steady throughout, so that they can make the most of the flat middle section.
Stage 16 – Ponte di Legno → Val Martello (139km)
Stage 16 is 139 kilometres of climbs and downhill sections, with a few flat, rolling sections in there for the participants to gain some momentum and speed up on. The highest point is the Valico di Arcinazzo at 1007 metres, but from there the climbs are relatively gentle compared to the other stages.
Travel tip: If you’re lucky enough to find yourself a spectator at Foligno, be sure to take time to look at the Foligno Cathedral, which is a beautiful piece of 12th Century Romanesque architecture.
Final Stage – Stage 21 – Gemona del Friuli → Trieste (169 km)
The final stage is another undulating route, this will make for an exciting finish to a hard tour. Riders will be tested on their pacing and speed on the last 50km, as the terrain rises and falls in a a perfect wave formation every 5km or so. Expect some great sprints, overtaking and all-out speed tactics.
Keep up to date for more Giro articles and race coverage, we will be covering the stages once the race gets under way, documenting race highlights and extra information about the areas and towns passed through.