Starting in Sardinia, the race will take the riders over some of Italy's most iconic climbs, before coming to a conclusion in Milan.
The 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia (5-28 May) will see the peloton set off from Sardinia, who'll get to host the start for just the third time in history, before venturing into Sicily, where Etna – the tallest active volcano in Europe – awaits at the end of stage four. It will be just the aperitif in a race during which the riders will tackle Blockhaus, Oropa, Stelvio, Mortirolo, Passo Pordoi, Piancavallo and Monte Grappa, climbs on which history has been written at the previous editions.
A route rich in tough mountains, the 2017 Giro d'Italia balances this heavy terrain with two individual time trials, one scheduled in stage 13 (Foligno – Montefalco, 39 km) and a 28-km pan-flat one that comes on the last day, in Milan. The sprinters will have six opportunities to shine, but the last of these will feature before the third week, when the general contenders are expected to take center stage.
In 2016, Gianluca Brambilla was the first Italian to don the maglia rosa, following his spectacular victory out of a day-long break in stage 8, when he attacked inside the last 30 kilometers on an unpaved climb and soloed to the line in Arezzo. It was Gianluca's maiden win in a Grand Tour, an emotional one which came after years of hard work and perseverance.
Now, after watching the official route presentation together with his teammates in Etixx – Quick-Step's first training camp for next season, the 29-year-old made a short analysis of the key points of the race: "It's a hard Giro d'Italia right from the beginning, and it will become only tougher once we'll hit the mainland."
The Stelvio stage is going to be brutal, but in my opinion the toughest one of them all will be stage 18, which comes just three days from the finish and is packed with five difficult ascents.
"Actually, in the third week, if a rider has a bad moment on any of the climbs, he can bleed serious time and lose any chance of doing a good GC. The time trials will also have an important role in the outcome, but the most crucial thing for the riders who'll want to go for a strong result will be to not line up at the start in the best condition, opting instead to gradually improve during the race."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele