The 2014 Giro d’Italia will begin on a Friday and will include a third rest day in order to facilitate the race’s transfer back to Italy after the start in Ireland. The alteration was confirmed at a meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) in Florence on Tuesday.
The Giro will thus start in Belfast on Friday, May 9, possibly with a team time trial. A road stage starting and finishing in Belfast will follow, while stage 3 is set to be from Armagh to Dublin.
The first rest day will be on Monday, May 12 and the Giro will resume in Italy the following day, most likely in Puglia. Tuttosport has reported that Bari and Barletta are both in the running to host the start of stage 4. The Giro will finish in Trieste on Sunday, June 1. The full route will be unveiled in Milan on October 7.
According to rules implemented in 2011, Grand Tours were no longer permitted to have rest days during the opening week of racing, but the PCC said that it had “exceptionally granted a request from the Giro d’Italia organizers […] This was approved subject to the minimum needs of teams and riders being met.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, the PCC also agreed to bring stakeholder proposals for reforms of professional cycling before the UCI Management Committee. The proposals include those suggested during the Deloitte UCI Stakeholder Consultation, which took place earlier this year. If passed, the reforms will be rolled out between 2015 and 2020.
The proposed reforms include the creation of a First and Second Division of racing, with fewer riders in each team and fewer racing days each season for riders. The current assessment system for WorldTour licences would be replaced by automatic promotion and relegation between the divisions.
Changes have also been proposed to the racing calendar, including that the season be reduced in length, with races taking place between February and October. It is proposed that top level races will no longer overlap (as is currently the case, for instance, with Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico), that there will be racing every weekend of the season, and that there will be “six weeks of continuous competition” during the Spring Classics.
In the meantime, the PCC has approved the calendar for the 2014 WorldTour, which will again conclude with the Tour of Beijing.
Funding has also been approved for the creation of the role of liaison officer between the UCI and the riders, beginning in 2015.