Under-23 Giro d'Italia to return in 2017

Axeon Hagens Berman likely to line out at week-long U23 race in June

Italian Cycling Federation president Renato Di Rocco and Italian national coach Davide Cassani have confirmed that the Baby Giro will return in 2017, with a week-long stage race expected to attract some of the best young riders, including Axel Merckx's successful Axeon Hagens Berman Under 23 Continental squad.

The 40th edition of the race will be limited to U23 riders and will officially be known as the Giro Ciclistico d'Italia. It will start in Imola on Friday June 9, a week after the professional Giro d'Italia, and is likely to end in the central Abruzzo region with a testing mountain-top finish on Thursday June 15.

Final stage details are still to be confirmed but a short time trial is also likely to be included. The Giro Ciclistico d'Italia will not be part of the UCI's Nations Cup series but is expected to grow and return to being one of the most prestigious races on the U23 men's calendar.

Often referred to as the Baby Giro and, more recently, the Giro Bio, the race was last held in 2012, when Joe Dombrowski beat Fabio Aru. Other previous winners include Francesco Moser, Piotr Ugrumov, Marco Pantani, Gilberto Simoni, Davide Frattini, Dario Cataldo and Carlos Betancur.

"We had to put the race back on and it's got to be a point of reference for the future just as it was in the past," Cassani told Gazzetta dello Sport, revealing details of the race.

"We're starting with edition number 40. We'll start in Imola with a road stage and visit other parts of the Emilia Romagna region, the Marche and Abruzzo. It'll be a race for the best young riders in the peloton. We’re working to have 27 teams of six riders: 17 Italian teams including two national squads, plus 10 international teams. Axel Merckx's team has already put their name forward."

Organising the race will cost close to 500,000 Euro. Former state energy company Enel, which also sponsors the Giro d'Italia pink jersey, has agreed to sponsor the leader's jersey. There will be four or five special classifications and special jersey competition just like in the professional race.

Cassani is hoping the return of the Baby Giro will give Italian cycling a boost after years of gradual decline. The race plans to involve local communities and hold collateral events for children and families at stage starts and finishes.

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