- Seven mountain days, seven stages for the sprinters
- 61 kilometres of individual time trialling
- Race starts with a individual time trial (not prologue)
- Full route of 3,383km (average stage length 161km), from May 6 - 29
- Stages for Nibali, Dumoulin, Sagan and Cavendish
The 2016 Giro d’Italia will include three time trials and seven mountain stages, creating a balanced route which organisers RCS Sport hope will make for a close race and tempt some of the best riders in the world to attempt a rare Giro-Tour double or focus solely on the Italian Grand Tour.
After several leaks in recent weeks, the full details of the route were revealed on Monday at the official presentation at the Milan Expo in the presence of reigning champion Alberto Contador, new world champion Peter Sagan, and numerous riders who were in action at Il Lombardia on Sunday. Vincenzo Nibali restored Italian pride by dominating the final monument of the season and he is likely to target the Giro d’Italia in 2016 alongside Astana teammate and Vuelta a Espana winner Fabio Aru. While Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador are set to focus on the Tour de France next season, Richie Porte (BMC) and Mikel Landa (Team Sky) are expected to target the Giro, with RCS Sport also hoping to entice Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin and Thibaut Pinot of FDJ.
The official presentation in Milan revealed details of every one of the 21 stages. The dangers, opportunities and decisive climbs offered up by the race have been laid out in full for everyone to see. The 99th edition of the Giro d’Italia begins on Friday May 6 in the Netherlands and ends on Sunday May 29 in Turin. The racing begins on Friday so that riders can enjoy an extra rest day after the transfer from the Netherlands to Southern Italy.
The opening 9.8km time trial in Apeldoorn will decide the first wearer of the leader’s maglia rosa, while the risk of crosswinds in the Netherlands and the rolling country roads of southern and central Italy should inspire some aggressive racing early on. The first mountain finish comes on stage six to Roccaraso in the central Apennines, with a gradual two-part 20km climb taking the riders up 1572 metres.
The 40.4km individual time trial in the Chianti vineyards of central Tuscany on stage 9 will be key and will no doubt change the leadership of the race as the overall contenders show their hands. The following day’s stage over the Apennines between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna is 216km long and has the profile of a shark’s teeth, ending with two testing and longer climbs. It could be perfect for Nibali to gain time on his less aggressive rivals.
The Giro d’Italia has snubbed the sprinters in recent years but the 2016 route includes seven potential sprint finishes. Three come early on and stages 11 and 12 to Asolo and Bibione are positioned before the mountains begin in earnest. The seventh is in Turin on the last stage but few sprinters are expected to survive the haul through the Dolomites and especially the French Alps.
Mountain stages in the Dolomites and French Alps
The true mountains are reached on stage 13 to Cividale del Friuli. The climbs near the Slovenian border are not well known but are steep, narrow and two of them come in the final 40km.
Stage 14 to Corvara in the heart of Alta Badia looks set to be the queen stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia due to the spectacular backdrop of the Dolomites. The stage covers much of the route of the Maratona dles Dolomites sportif, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016. The stage includes six major climbs including the Passo Pordoi, the Passo Campolongo, the Passo Giau and Passo Valparola before the descent to Corvara.
The 10.8km cronoscalata - or mountain time trial - comes on the following day between Castelrotto and the Alpi di Siusi ski station. After a flat opening two kilometres, the road twists and turns but climbs steadily at 8 per cent.
Three transitional stages take the race into Lombardy on the way to the Alps with a visit to Gianni Motta’s home town of Cassano d’Adda to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his Giro d’Italia victory.
The final mountain stages include a visit across the border into France in search of new climbs and what appears an attempt to steal some glory from the Tour de France. Stage 19 finishes in Risoul after climbing the massive Colle dell’Agnello. At 2744m it is the highest climb in the 2016 Giro d’Italia and so will award the special Cima Coppi prize. The overall contenders will be focused on the final 16km climb to the finish in Risoul.
Stage 20 from Guillestre to Sant’Anna di Vinadio is the final mountain stage. It is also one of the shortest in the race but will surely be one of the hardest because it includes three major climbs in just 134km. The stage heads immediately up the Col de Vars but that is just the antipasto before the 2715m-high Col de la Bonette, which was covered in the 2008 Tour de France when John Lee Augustyn crashed spectacularly on the descent.
A long descent of the Bonette leads to the final climb of the race – the little known Colle della Lombarda, which was also covered in the 2008 Tour de France. The climb is 21.2km long at an average gradient of 7 per cent, with the steepest sections at 9.3 per cent at the foot of the climb. Any final assault to take the maglia rosa will be have to be made here.
The overall winner of the 2016 Giro d’Italia will be crowned in Turin on Sunday May 29 after a flat 150km road stage from Cuneo.