The Giro Rosa is the biggest stage race on the Women's WorldTour calendar and considered the most prestigious victory of the season. This year's race begins on Friday July 6 with a flat 15.5km team time trial. The race route will wind across northern Italy, with a mountain time trial on stage 7 to the Campo Moro dam and final circuit stage in Cividale del Friuli on Sunday July 15.
The five leader's jerseys were also unveiled with Claudia Cretti showing off the race leader's pink jersey, which is again sponsored by Colnago. Cretti was declared the "ad honorem' winner of the 2018 Giro Rosa and was given a moving standing ovation. She crashed at 90kph on stage 7 of the Giro Rosa last year and was placed in an induced coma due to the nature of her life-threatening head injuries. She has since made a gradual recovery and even ridden a bike again. Anna van der Breggen won her second Giro Rosa title in 2017, beating Elisa Longo Borghini and Annemiek Van Vleuten.
The 2018 Giro Rosa – officially known as the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, will cover a total of 964km during the 10 days of racing.
Following the 15.5km team time trial in Verbania, the race will head south for a rolling stage in Ovada, at the foot of the Passo Turchino, used in the men's Milan-San Remo. Stage 3 in Corbetta, west of Milan, is more suited for the sprinters and stage 4 will celebrate Giorgia Bronzini's career with a stage around her hometown of Piacenza. The best climbers will fight for overall victory and the terrain turns hilly on stage 5 for the 117km stage around Omegna, back near Verbania.
The race route heads east on stage 6, from Sovico up into the Valtellina area for the first mountain finish in Gerola at 1050 metres. The stage 7 mountain time trial climbs 1000 metres in 15km from Lanzada to the Campo Moro dam.
A transfer takes the Giro Rosa caravan east to the Veneto region for stage 8 from San Giorgio di Perlena to Breganze between Vicenza and Asiago. It is a perfect stage for breakaways. Monte Zoncolan looms large on stage 9, with the riders climbing via Ovaro, with gradients of up to 22 per cent.
The Zoncolan was first featured in the Giro Rosa in 1997, and at that time the climb began at Sutrio to the chair lifts. Italian Fabiana Luperini won that stage and the overall title. It has since been used five times in the men's Giro d'Italia and will host the finish of the men's Giro d'Italia on stage 14. Like the women, the men will also climb its steepest side from Ovaro to the summit.
The Giro Rosa clashes with the men's Tour de France but is televised, with highlights shown on television in Italy immediately after the Tour. A live stream of the race is also expected in 2018.
"We've grown a lot in recent years and we want to grow more and improve even more, because we are known as the most prestigious stage race on the women's calendar, race director Giuseppe Rivolta or organiser 4 Erre ASD said at the route presentation in Monza.
2018 Giro Rosa stages:
Stage 1: Verbania - Verbania 15.5km (Team time trial)
Stage 2: Ovada - Ovada 120.3km
Stage 3: Corbetta - Corbetta 132km
Stage 4: Piacenza - Piacenza 109km
Stage 5: Omegna - Omegna 117.7km
Stage 6: Sovico - Gerola Alta 114.1km
Stage 7: Lanzada - Diga di Campo Moro 15km (Mountain time trial)
Stage 8: San Giorgio di Perlena (Fara Vicentino) - Breganze 121.6km
Stage 9: Tricesimo - Monte Zoncolan 104.7km
Stage 10: Cividale del Friuli - Cividale del Friuli 120.3km.