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The Zoncolan climb to decide the final maglia rosa
RCS Sport, the organiser of the Giro d'Italia has announced that the 2014 edition of the race will end in Trieste, in the extreme north-east of Italy, with a finish on Monte Zoncolan on the final Saturday expected to decide the final overall winner on the penultimate stage.
RCS Sport announced the Trieste finish at a press conference in Trieste and coincides with the 60th anniversary of the city returning under Italian control after the second world war. The 2014 Giro d'Italia will start in Belfast, with three days in Northern Ireland and Ireland before transferring to Italy by plane.
The full race route for the 2014 Giro d'Italia will be unveiled on Monday October 7, the day after Il Lombardia. The route of the race, once back in Italy, is expected to head north from Bari via Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, with a key time trial between Barbaresco to Barolo in the heat of the Piemonte wine region. A finish at the Santuario di Oropa near will remember Marco Pantani ten years after his death. Il Pirata won in Oropa in 1999 despite dropping his chain at the foot of the climb.
The Zoncolan will be climbed on Saturday May 31 during the 167km 20th stage from Maniago. The stage includes the Passo del Pura and the Sella di Razzo before finishing atop the Zoncolan from Ovaro side. The 10.1km climb is considered one of the hardest in Europe, with an average gradient of 11.9% and sections at leg breaking 20%.
Initial plans included a double ascent of the Zoncolan from two different sides of the climb but this idea was abandoned due to race logistical difficulties. It is the fifth time the Giro d'Italia climbs the Zoncolan. Gilberto Simoni was the first ever winner in 2003, climbing from the Sutrio side. He also won in 2007 climbing from Ovado, with Ivan Basso setting up his overall victory in 2010. Spain's Igor Anton was the last winner 2011.
The Giro d'Italia will end in Trieste on Sunday June 1 with eight circuits of the city and an expected sprint finish after a 169km stage starting in Germona del Friuli.
The north-eastern Friuli Venezia Giulia region has hosted a Grand Partenza of the Giro d'Italia in Trieste in 1981 and three finishes in 1966 (won by Gianni Motta) and 1973 (Eddy Merckx). In 1983, Giuseppe Saronni won the Giro d'Italia in Udine.
Trieste has often hosted stages, with Alessandro Petacchi the last winner in 2009.