The route of the 2013 Giro d'Italia has been presented, the secrets of the stages are out and I've realised yet again how affectionate and caring people are about the Corsa Rosa.
I can understand it from messages from the fans, comments from the riders, reports from the media and from everyone who shares the same goals and passion for great cycling as we do.
Unveiling a new Giro d'Italia route is a bit like going out on a first date. It's exciting. You can't wait and you can't stop thinking about how it will turn out. Where are you going to go? What will you do? We can't wait until the 2013 Giro d'Italia starts in Naples on Saturday May 4. During those seven months, the expectations and excitement for the Giro d'Italia will grow every day, just like before a date.
I can’t wait for May too but first I'm curious to hear what everyone thinks of the route. After this year's race we listened to everyone to find out what they liked about it and also what they didn’t like.
Some people were very clear: 75% of the tifosi said that the 2012 Giro had been too tactical and so too controlled. 85% asked us to look after the riders more, especially at the finish of the sprint stages. People were divided about the mountain stages: 45% wanted to see big mountain stages with four or five major climbs, while 55% said we should focus on more spectacular and shorter mountain stages that have just one or two climbs in the finale. There was also a contrast in opinions on racing on the Strade Bianche dirt road roads. 25% of people want them in every edition of the race, 35% never want them and 40% want them but only every so often.
When we designed the 2013 Giro d'Italia route, we considered the fans' opinions very closely. We also listened to the UCI, the teams and of course, the riders. We tried to bring everyone's needs together and create three key values:
BALANCE: We wanted a route that is balanced and fair, and so one that allows the great riders to show their talents and skills. We designed a route that favours attacks by overall contenders right from the start of the race. That's why there's a spicy stage finish in Calabria –the home of the best Italian chilly peppers, a testing Classics style stage in the Abruzzo region and an important time trial, all in the first week.
RESPECT: We worked hard to design a route that is rider friendly as a sign of respect to the riders. That means a safe route, hard but not sadistically hard, which gives the riders a chance to recover between the stages. We've calculated that rider will on average reach their hotels by 7:00pm after every stage.
THE BEAUTY OF ITALY: We wanted to show off the beauty of Italy: Naples, Ischia, Matera, Florence, Vicenza, Brescia and with a route that also climbed the legendary mountains of cycling: the Galibier, the Stelvio and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
As Italian journalist Paolo Tomaselli wrote in Corriere della Sera, the route of the 2013 Giro d'Italia is like a beautiful necklace. In May we'll see who will deserve to wear it at the end of the race.
I've got a good feeling about the 2013 Giro d'Italia. I can feel that the interest and excitement in the race is growing around the world. Now it's up to us, the teams and the riders, to further develop the passion for the Giro d'Italia.
Let me know what you think via twitter (@micacquarone) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).