The 2013 Giro d’Italia will start in Naples on May 4, although RCS Sport has yet to decide if the race will begin with a time trial or a road stage. It will be the Giro’s first stage finish in Naples since 1996 and the first time in fifty years that the race has started in the city.
“We still have to conclude the definitive version of the route, so for this reason we can’t yet reveal if the first stage will be a time trial or a road stage,” race director Michele Acquarone said at a press conference in Milan on Monday, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
In spite of earlier rumours that the start might take place on the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples, the Giro will instead begin in the streets of the city, at Piazza Vittoria. The stage will take in the Chiaia, Mergellina and Posillipo quarters of the city before reaching the spectacular finish line at the Lungomare Caracciolo along the seafront.
The previous day's teams presentation will take place in the historic Piazza del Plebiscito in the centre of Naples. There also be a scenic setting for the favourites' press conference on the Thursday before the race - Castel dell'Ovo, a castle on the islet of Megaride, which is connected to Naples by a short causeway.
2012 saw the most northerly start in the Giro’s history, at Herning in Denmark, which meant that the race could pay only the most fleeting of visits to southern Italy. While organisers had faced some criticism for neglecting the south in recent years, Acquarone explained that it was not a deliberate policy.
“The Giro has never left the south,” he said. “There may have been years where we haven’t been able to visit as many regions but for us it’s the Giro d’Italia and we always look to make use of as much as the country as best we can. After Sardinia in 2007 and Palermo in 2008, we’re very happy to come back to have a start in the south again.”
Mayor of Naples Luigi De Magistris said that hosting the start of the Giro was a very significant event for the evocative city in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.
“It’s hugely important for Naples, which is rebuilding its image through sport,” said the mayor of Naples, De Magistris. “The bike is a symbol of social cohabitation, freedom and respect for the environment. The opportunity to host the start of the Giro on a Lungomare Caracciolo ‘free’ of cars and traffic is a reason for pride. You’ll see that Naples won’t disappoint.”
Mario Cipollini was the last stage winner in Naples, outsprinting Fabrizio Guidi and Giovanni Lombardi in 1996. The Giro last set out from the city in 1963, with a stage to Potenza, won by Vittorio Adorni. Naples also hosted the finish of the 1968 Giro, the first to be won by Eddy Merckx.
The Giro's most recent visit to Naples came in 2009, when the penultimate stage of the race began on the outskirts of the city after the previous day's summit finish atop Mount Vesuvius.
RCS Sport has also confirmed that for the next two years, the winner of the teams classification of the Coppa Italia competition will be assured of a wildcard spot at the Giro d'Italia. Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela earned its entry through this route in 2012, and RCS and the Italian Federation have extended their agreement for another two years.