The rescheduled Giro d'Italia could start in Palermo with a short individual time trial around the Sicilian capital on October 3, while new stages in Basilicata and Abruzzo could replace the two road race stages that were originally scheduled for Hungary in May.
There have been reports in Italy that the new stages would visit areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 coronavirus, including Bergamo, but this has proven to be a problem. The October race looks set to follow most of the original route, with a time trial through the Prosecco vines near Conegliano and key mountain stages over the Passo dello Stelvio and the Colle Agnello before the conclusion in Milan with a final 16.5km individual time trial.
Cyclingnews understands that race organiser RCS Sport is against inserting new stages in the second half of the race to ensure the key mountain stages are held during the weekends to maximise the possible television viewing figures.
As part of the new UCI race calendar, the Giro d'Italia will be held between October 3-25. The Tour de France will held between August 29-September 20, while the 18-stage Vuelta a España will overlap with the corsa rosa and be held on October 20-November 8.
According to the usually well-informed Tuttobiciweb website, the opening stage will be held in Palermo, with sources telling Cyclingnews the time trial could be of similar in length to that planned for Budapest time trial (8.6km) after the city also hosts the Grande Partenza and team presentation.
Stage 2 will follow the route of the original stage 4 from Monreale to Agrigento, with stage 3 finishing on Mount Etna.
To make up for the two lost road stages in Hungary, new stages will be created in the southern regions of Basilicata and Abruzzo during the first week of the Giro, with the stunning town of Matera a logical candidate for the Basilicata finish. A stage in Abruzzo could be inserted into the race route between the finish in Vieste on the Puglia coast (stage 9 on the original route) and the start in San Salvo on the Abruzzo coast (stage 10 on the original route).
Race organiser RCS Sport has already confirmed that Sicily will host the Grand Partenza of the 2021 Giro d'Italia as part of a three-year deal with the Sicilian Region. However, it is unclear if the 2021 race will also start on the Mediterranean island or if the start will be held in Hungary.
Race director Mauro Vegni has already said the new route will be revealed with a virtual presentation online at the end of June or the start of July.
Vegni has said he hopes to organise an 'open doors' Giro d'Italia but some restrictions on crowd sizes at starts and finishes are expected. COVID-19 protocols will have to be respected at the Giro d'Italia and other major races scheduled for August and September.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.