The route of the 2021 Giro d’Italia will be presented on Thursday, February 4, with Turin expected to host the Grande Partenza. The race is set to begin on May 8 with a time trial before the route heads south towards Puglia and then to the northeast via the Tuscan strade bianche to climb the Zoncolan. The final week will likely cross Italy towards Piedmont and into the Alps to tackle the Colle di Fauniera before a final time trial in central Milan.
Organisers RCS Sport were due to reveal Turin as the host city of Giro start on Tuesday, when they also planned to name the final two wildcard teams for the race. That announcement was cancelled at the last minute, officially due to technical reasons. However, reports in Italy suggest that RCS Sport, together with the other Grand Tour organisers, are trying to convince the UCI to expand their start lists to include 23 teams instead of the usual 22. This would allow Italy, France and Spain to find an extra place for one of their ProTeams.
The 19 WorldTour teams are guaranteed a place in all the GrandTour, with the best ProTeam of 2020, Alpecin-Fenix, also automatically invited, leaving four ProTeams in each country fighting for the final places. The likes of Gazprom and Arkea-Samsic are also keen to ride the 2021 Giro and will compete with the four Italian ProTeams: Eolo-Kometa, Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF and Vini Zabù - Brado.
A mix of mountains and time trials
According to numerous reports in the local Italian media, the 104th edition of the Giro will start with a time trial in Turin, giving world time trial champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) an opportunity win the opening stage and pull on the first maglia rosa as he did in Palermo.
A second time trial is expected mid-race between Foligno and Peugia in central Umbria, with a final short time trial to Milan as was the case in 2020.
The route of the Giro is traditionally presented during the winter but with last year’s race held in October and COVID-19 restrictions in Italy slowing route reconnaissance, the full route will only be known after the 2021 season has kicked off.
The Giro will be held from May 8-30, with two rest days expected on May 17 and 24.
According to the well-informed Italian journalist Angelo Costa, after the Grande Partenza in Turin, the Giro route is expected to head northeast to Ganna’s hometown of Verbania before climbing into the Apennines near Bologna for an early hilltop finish in Sestola, where Giulio Ciccone won in 2016.
The race route will head south near the Adriatic coast, offering the sprinters several opportunities, before a hilly stage to Ascoli Piceno. There will be other hilly stages in the central mountains, including one near Monti della Laga on May 14 and then to Campo Felice in Abruzzo. A stage finish in Puglia will be the southernmost point of the 2021 race.
A long rest day transfer will see the race caravan head to central Italy for the time trial from Foligno to Perugia. There will also be a visit to the Lazio region before a stage on the strade bianche, the dirt roads near Siena.
A stage to Bagno di Romagna in Emilia Romagna will pass through Sesto Fiorentino near Florence to celebrate the hundredth birthday of former rider and legendary Italian national coach Alfredo Martini. A stage from Ravenna to Verona will be just one of the way’s the Giro d’Italia celebrates the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, whose poetry helped form the basis of the modern-day Italian language.
The final week of mountains should begin in the northeast of Italy, with a finish atop the steep Zoncolan on May 22 followed by a stage into Slovenia for a finish in Gorizia. Another mountain stage will take the race to Cortina, which, together with Milan, will host the 2026 Winter Olympics.
The Giro will then head west for the final showdown in the Alps, with two stages expected on May 28 and 29, including a visit to the Colle di Fauniera, where a stone statue of Marco Pantani remembers the only time the race crossed the testing climb and Pantani went on to take the maglia rosa a few days before his disqualification at Madonna di Campiglio.
The final winner of the Giro d’Italia will again be decided in the shadows of the Milan Duomo, with a flat and fast time trial to the centre of the city.
Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) won the maglia rosa in 2020 and is expected to return to defend his victory this year. He could have the support of Egan Bernal as he recoveries from his back problems, while Vincenzo Nibali and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Alexandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), Fabio Aru (Qhubeka Assos) and Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) are all expected to ride.
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