Bookended by time trials, the first Grand Tour of the season will feature seven summit finishes and several intriguing climbs.
Home of the oldest university in the world, Bologna will be the site of the Grande Partenza for the 102nd Giro d'Italia, which will commence with a short but testing individual time trial to San Luca, the 2.7km-long climb averaging 9.7% where the Giro d'Emilia concludes every year. The opening week lacks a mountain top finish, but has several punchy stages and a demanding 34.7km ITT in San Marino – the race's only foray outside Italy – which should create some big gaps ahead of the first rest day.
The sprinters will be spoiled on stages 10 and 11, to Modena and Novi Ligure (the birthplace of five-time Giro d'Italia winner Fausto Coppi), before the grueling Colle del Nivolet and Colle San Carlo will spice up the fight between the maglia rosa contenders, who'll end the week on the familiar roads of Il Lombardia, taking on Madonna del Ghisallo, Colma di Sormano, Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia before the finish in Bergamo, where white jersey Bob Jungels won in 2017 from a small group.
Last week of the race brings to the spotlight Passo Gavia – Cima Coppi in 2019 (which gained its place in the pantheon of cycling after the 1988 edition), the excruciating Mortirolo, Anterselva, San Martino di Castrozza, Passo Manghen and Passo Rolle – giving plenty of opportunities to climbers to go on the attack and gain ground on their rivals ahead of the final test against the clock in Verona (15.6km), where the Giro d'Italia will finish for the fourth time in history, after 1981, 1984 and 2010.
"I've got good feelings about this Giro: I'm the Italian Champion, the Corsa Rosa ends in Verona, so it looks like my dream Giro! On paper, there should be up to six stages that could end up in a bunch sprint, which is really nice", said Elia Viviani, one of the riders who stole the show in 2018, when we sprinted to four stages victories which netted him the prestigious maglia ciclamino in Rome.
"The last week of racing will be incredibly tough for the sprinters but I'm looking at this Giro with the goal of arriving in the wonderful Verona, my home town. I haven't decided with the team if targeting the maglia ciclamino again next year will be a goal. It will be very difficult to improve on this year's Giro for me, but I'll try to do my best."
Quick-Step Floors sports director Davide Bramati – who as a rider has started the Corsa Rosa on twelve occasions between 1991 and 2006 – also shared his opinion on the 102nd edition, which will see the riders cover 3518.5 kilometers between May 11 and June 2.
"The Giro lives up to its reputation of being one of the toughest and most exciting races in the world, with next year's edition a very tough one, especially in the second part, where many will suffer and crack. The balance is tilted towards the climbers, who'll have also the long individual time trial play into their favour. Colle del Nivolet, Gavia, Mortirolo, Passo Manghen – all these cruel climbs will have a big impact on the race and the fight for the pink jersey. But at the end of the day, regardless of how difficult the route is, you can be sure that we will try to be in the mix and enhance our palmares in this beautiful race", said Bramati, who in 2018 guided Quick-Step Floors to five stage victories, which took the team's all-time tally at the Giro d'Italia to 26 wins.
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