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Seven mountain finishes balanced by a 92km of time trials
The route of the 2013 Giro d'Italia has been officially presented in Milan, with race organisers balancing the traditionally mountainous route with 88.9km of time trials, in a clear attempt to attract big-name stage racers such as Bradley Wiggins and Alberto Contador.
The 96th edition of the Corsa Rosa will cover 3405km, starting in Naples with a 156km road race stage on Saturday May 4 and ending on Sunday May 26 in Brescia, with a final road stage and five laps of a city centre circuit. The average stage distance is down to 162.2km a day.
The route is finely balanced with seven mountain finishes but also a 17.4km team time trial on the island of Ischia on stage 2, a 55.5km individual time trial from Gabicce Mare to Saltara on stage 8 and a 19.4km mountain time trial on stage 18.
"Our guiding line is that the great champions must be respected, and every champion must be given space to express himself. I think that we’ve put together a very balanced route," said race director Michele Acquarone.
A very Italian race
After the 2012 Giro d'Italia started in Denmark, the 2013 race will have a very Italian feel, with the first week in the south of the country and the final mountain stages in the Dolomites. The race only leaves Italy for the already announced finish atop the Galibier in France, and the rest day and start of stage 16 in the Valloire ski resort.
The opening stage in the centre of Naples will cover 10 laps of a circuit before a quick ferry trip to Ischia for the technically testing team time trial. The route heads south via the spectacular Amalfi coast to the toe of the Italian peninsular.
The first mountain finish comes early, on stage three, with the 10km climb of Croce Ferrata ending just six kilometres from the...
Canadian applauds balanced route
When Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) triumphed at the Giro d’Italia last May, he can hardly have anticipated that one of the duties of the incumbent would be to participate in a cookery demonstration alongside Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Mark Cavendish at the presentation of the following year’s race.
After shyly cooking up a risotto under the watchful gaze of celebrity chef Davide Oldani and the gathered multitudes at Milan’s Spazio Pelota on Sunday, Hesjedal will have felt considerably more at ease when he settled back to watch the unveiling of the 2013 Giro route and discovered a balanced course that gives him a fighting chance of repeating his victory of this year.
As was the case in 2012, the Giro’s toughest mountain stages are shoehorned into the final week, with consecutive summit finishes at Polsa, Val Martello and Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the final four days of racing, but Hesjedal noted that the early exchanges are not without their difficulties.
“It’s difficult right from the beginning,” he said. “There’s the team time trial and then the first long time trial and that’s before you get to the first rest day. After that, you have the big mountains in the last half of the race, so you need to be complete for the whole time.”
The stage two team time trial on the island of Ischia will delight the photographers and the uphill finish at Serra San Bruno on stage 4 could catch some contenders unawares, but the Giro’s first real rendezvous is the 55.5km time trial to Saltara at the end of the opening week, a thinly-veiled overture to Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky)....
Sicilian looks to final week and Tre Cime di Lavaredo
As Vincenzo Nibali joined Alberto Contador, Ryder Hesjedal and Mark Cavendish in a cookery demonstration to kick off the presentation of the 2013 Giro d'Italia, Bradley Wiggins haunted their feast like Banquo's ghost.
Wiggins was not on hand in Milan on Sunday, but his was the name on everyone's lips when the curtain went up on the route of next year's Giro. With over 92 kilometres of time trialling on the menu, the Giro organisers could scarcely have done more to try and entice the reigning Tour de France champion to their race.
55.5km of that total comes in one fell swoop on stage 8 from Gabicce Mare to Saltara, while there is also a 17.4km team trial on stage 2 and a 19.4km mountain time trial to Polsa four days from the finish. After coming up short against the metronomic Sky pairing of Wiggins and Chris Froome at the Tour last July, Vincenzo Nibali is all too aware of the dangers posed by the marginal gains school of cycling.
"It looks like a great Giro, and the only off-key note for me might be the 55km time trial," Nibali said. "I'll need to work an awful lot on time trialling in the meantime. I could see from last year's Tour that riders like Wiggins and Froome can make up a lot of time there. It's certainly the most dangerous stage for me."
Asked if he expected Wiggins to be on the start line in Naples on May 4, Nibali stressed that it was too soon to tell. "I don't know his plans. Hey, I haven't even made my own plans yet," Nibali joked.
"I suppose we'll have to wait for the unveiling of the Tour and the Vuelta and then the various leaders will decide what they're...
Contador, Cavendish, Nibali and Hesjedal cook up a storm
After yesterday’s thrilling action in the Giro di Lombardia, attention turned to Milan’s Spazio Pelota for 2013 Giro d’Italia route presentation. RCS, who organises both races, have, in recent years, looked to put on a show at the unveiling of the Corsa Rosa: last year they unveiled the route for the Giro by lowering Alberto Contador onto the stage in a steel cage, and this year was no different.
This year, for the 96th edition of the race, the cage had been replaced. Instead the Spaniard was joined on stage by the Giro d’Italia’s defending champion Ryder Hesjedal, Vincenzo Nibali, Mark Cavendish and Italy’s celebrity chef Davide Oldani.
After the master-chefs had cooked up a risotto, the race parcours was finally unveiled.
“Our guiding line is that the great champions must be respected, and every champion must be given space to express himself. I think that we’ve put together a very balanced route,” said organiser Michele Acquarone said after unveiling the 21-stage event.
Hesjedal, who will race both the Giro and Tour in 2013 added his praise to a race that holds seven mountain stages and 88 kilometres of time trialing.
“Someone was saying it would be an easier Giro this year, but I don’t see it. It looks amazing, I’m ready to start preparing already,” he said.
For a complete run-down of the race, click here.