The leaked route of the 2016 Giro d'Italia has confirmed that next year's Corsa Rosa will include 61km of time trialing, fewer tough mountain finishes and limited transfers, in what seems an attempt to attract a wider range of overall contenders and so open up the race for the winner's pink jersey.
While 2015 winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) has already said he will focus on the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in 2016 and Chris Froome has said he will again focus on the Tour de France and the Rio Olympics, the three time trial stages could make the Giro d'Italia a tempting challenge for the likes of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal (with Trek Factory Racing in 2016), Richie Porte (with BMC in 2016), Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Garmin in 2016). It could also give younger riders such as Rohan Dennis, Michal Kwiatkowski (with Team Sky in 2016), Adam and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) and Rafa Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) a shot at a first Grand Tour victory.
Full details of the Giro d'Italia route will be revealed on Monday at the Milan Expo, with Dumoulin and many of the riders in action at Il Lombardia and then the Abu Dhabi Tour are expected to attend.
However, we already know that the race will begin with a 9.8km time trial in Apeldoorn, in the Netherlands. The second time trial is on stage nine in the rolling hills of the Chianti vineyards in Tuscany. The 40.4km will be a real test against the watch, produce some significant time gaps and be the first turning point in the race.
The leaked route map confirmed that the third and final time trial will be a 10.8km cronoscalata or mountain time trial between Castelrotto-Alpe di Siusi overlooking the Dolomites on stage 15.
The 2016 Giro d'Italia starts with three stages in the Netherlands on Friday May 6 and ends in Turin on Sunday May 29.
The opening time trial in Apeldoorn will also offer a chance to pull on the first leader's pink jersey and so could tempt Dumoulin to race at home in the Netherlands. Taylor Phinney (BMC) won a similar time trial in the 2012 in Denmark and may return to the Giro d'Italia after the cobbled Classics. It clearly suits Tour de France time trial winner Dennis and could tempt Tony Martin to at least ride part of the Giro d'Italia and also target the Chianti time trial.
Opportunities for the sprinters
The tradition that riders must always try to finish a Grand Tour no longer holds water due to the needs of the WorldTour teams and a packed race calendar. This year Tom Boonen rode 13 stages of the Giro d'Italia and then headed home to ride the Tour of Belgium, after securing permission from the Giro d'Italia organisers.
The high mountains in the 2016 Giro d'Italia do not begin until stage 13, with six or seven opportunities for the sprinters in the first half of the race as route heads north to the mountains. Sprinter such as Mark Cavendish (with Dimension Data in 2016), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and others maybe tempted to ride in Italy rather than travel to the Tour of California, but avoid suffering the mountain stages.
We will know more about possible contenders and leading riders on Monday at the official presentation and after the presentation of the Tour de France route on Tuesday October 20.