Speaking at a press conference at Las Vegas, Nevada's Interbike trade show, Giro d'Italia director Michele Acquarone confirmed today that the Col du Galibier climb in the French Alps will make it's debut in the 2013 edition of the Italian Grand Tour with a summit finish. Two years after the Col du Galibier hosted its first-ever summit finish in the 2011 Tour de France, history will be made yet again in stage 15 of the 2013 Giro d'Italia with the first-ever summit finish from the north side, climbing to the 2,642 metre summit from Valloire, the opposite side from Andy Schleck's winning performance in the Tour.
Stage number 15 of the ‘Corsa Rosa’, taking place May 19, 2013, will start from Cesana Torinese and take riders towards Susa where the Colle del Moncenisio climb will begin, then downhill towards the Val D’Arc. At Saint Michel de Maurienne the race will climb the Col du Télégraphe and then, from Valloire, the last 18km will head upwards towards the summit of the Col du Galibier to complete the 150km stage.
"It is the first time the Giro will go to that famous mountain and we are really happy to introduce it into the history of the Giro d'Italia," said Acquarone.
Four kilometres from the summit the stage will pass a monument to Marco Pantani, the 1998 Tour de France winner. The monument marks the place where Pantani attacked to seal his overall victory that year in the French Grand Tour.
"For us it's very important because in 1998 a man called Marco Pantani was winning his Tour de France and did something very, very special on that mountain," said Acquarone. "We are very happy that 15 years later we are on the same mountain and will have a big finish for the Giro d'Italia."
The complete route for the 2013 Giro d'Italia will be unveiled on less than two weeks' time on September 30, 2012 but Acquarone hinted, however, that next year's edition will be a more tempered affair in the hopes of attracting the sport's biggest stars to compete both in Italy followed by the 100th edition of the Tour de France.
"The next Giro will be of course a very tough race," said Acquarone. "We used to say it's the toughest race in the world with all the mountains, but the next year will be very well-balanced.
"I spoke to all the teams and all the teams said they care about the Giro, but now they want to see the route so they can figure out the best riders to come. Bradley Wiggins, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Vincenzo Nibali and all the other big stars are very welcome, but we have to wait to understand their programmes.
"Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, and they will have to choose. I believe they can come to the Giro, have a very good Giro and then go do the Tour. I hope they will try to get the double. If they want to try to do something really special then next year will be a very good year to try."
Acquarone, joined on the podium by compatriot Giuseppe Perrone, the head of the Italian consulate in Los Angeles, spoke of the deepening relationship between the Giro d'Italia and the United States, highlighted by the Gran Fondo Giro d'Italia events in Los Angeles and Miami. When asked about the potential for the Italian Grand Tour to start in the US, however, Acquarone was cautiously pragmatic.
"It's not easy because first of all we can not have a rest day before five days now with the new rules," Acquarone told Cyclingnews. "I don't know if I can have the Giro d'Italia here for five days and then go to Italy - it's not so well-balanced.
"Then it's an incredible cost because you have to double all the costs. It's a lot, and that's one problem. The second problem, I haven't talked to the teams and I don't know what they think about such big jet lag at the beginning of a Grand Tour.
"I think it's a dream and it may always be a dream, but never say never."
This year the Giro started at it's furthest-ever distance from Italy in Denmark, which provided some inkling of what problems a trans-Atlantic transfer may entail.
"It was a big transfer but the teams understood that we had to do it," said Acquarone. "For the riders, in two hours they were in the hotel so for them it was ok. Some teams had two different [support] teams, one in Denmark and one in Italy so they didn't have to make the transfer, some others had to travel for 1,500km which is long. It's too much and I don't think we're going to do something like that any more."