Scarponi, Simoni, Zilioli and Moser offer their insights
As the Giro d'Italia celebrates the unification of Italy over a torturous three weeks, Cyclingnews asked Lampre-ISD's Michele Scarponi, two-time winner of the maglia rosa Gilberto Simoni, five-time stage winner Italo Zilioli, along with "Lo sceriffo" 1984-winner Francesco Moser to give us their insight to each stage.
Zilioli points towards stage 9 between Messina and Etna as a race highlight.
"Because it's Sicily, Nibali will target it and Liquigas will ramp it up on the second ascent. It will be epic, and very emotional as they honour the 1908 earthquake victims. I wouldn't be surprised if the winner here wears pink in Milan."
Scarponi meanwhile knows that stage 11 will be a key battleground with a punchy, aggressive climber sure to be on the attack – "I'd better shape up!" he says.
Much of the pre-Giro talk has centred around the inclusion of Austria's Grossglockner in the Dolomites, where Italy's Pierfranco Vianelli took the stage win 40 years ago, however Zilioli says the climb itself won't be that decisive.
Stage 15 will no doubt be brutal with the Giau, the dreaded Fedaia and a long climb on gravel to the Val di Fassa summit finish. These three stern tests are preceded by two other major climbs on a stage that's 229km long. "Somebody will crack here, I'm pretty sure of it, because it's just a war of attrition at this point," predicts Simoni.
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Stage 1: Venaria Reale to Turin
Stage 2: Alba to Parma
Stage 3: Reggio Emilia to Rapallo
Stage 4: Genova Quarto dei Mille to Livorno
Stage 5: Piombino to Orvieto
Stage 6: Orvieto to Fiuggi
Stage 7: Maddaloni to Montevergine di Mercogliano
Stage 8: Sapri to Tropea
Stage 9: Messina to Etna
Stage 10: Termoli to Teramo
Stage 11: Tortoreto Lido to Castelfidardo
Stage 12: Castelfidardo to Ravenna
Stage 13: Spilimbergo to Grossglockner
Stage 14: Lienz to Monte Zoncolan
Stage 15: Conegliano to Gardeccia/Val di Fassa
Stage 16: Belluno to Nevegal
Stage 17: Feltre to Tirano
Stage 18: Morbegno to San Pellegrino Terme
Stage 19: Bergamo to Macugnaga
Stage 20: Verbania to Sestriere
Stage 21: Milan
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