The 2019 Giro d'Italia is expected to include three time trials, but legendary climbs such as the Gavia, the Mortirolo, the Croce d'Aune and a new finish on the Col del Nivolet in the Alps will make for another mountainous and testing Italian Grand Tour.
The full route of the 2019 Giro d'Italia will be unveiled in Milan on October 31, but well-informed Italian newspaper La Stampa has published details of the route and even drawn a map of the expected parcours.
Race organiser RCS Sport has already announced that the 2019 Giro d'Italia will start with an 8.2km individual time trial from the centre of Bologna to the summit of the San Luca climb used for the Giro dell’Emilia. As part of an agreement with the Emilia Romagna region, stage 9 will be a hilly 34.7km time trial from Riccione to San Marino, while stage 10 is a flat ride from Ravenna to Modena for the sprinters.
La Stampa has filled in the details, confirming reports that the 2019 Giro d'Italia will end in Verona after a 15km time trial to the central Roman amphitheatre. The 1984 and 2010 editions of the race finished in similar style when Francesco Moser and Ivan Basso won the maglia rosa.
The three time trials could tempt Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) to return to the Giro d'Italia, with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) already confirming he will return after losing the maglia rosa in the final stages this year. Egan Bernal is expected to lead Team Sky at the 2019 Giro, but could also be joined by Geraint Thomas, while Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) seems tempted to ride his home Grand Tour before perhaps targeting the Tour de France for a final time in 2020 and then riding the Tokyo Olympics. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has also hinted he may finally skip the Tour of California to ride the Giro for the first time in his career.
Chris Froome (Team Sky), who won the 2018 Giro d'Italia after launching a solo attack on the dirt-road Colle delle Finestre climb, is expected to focus on winning a fifth Tour de France in 2019.
South towards Tuscany, Rome and then L'Aquila
Following the start in Bologna, the race route is expected to head over the Apennines and south into Tuscany for a stage start in Vinci to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Renaissance artist Leonardo. Other early stages take the race south towards Rome and the Tyrrhenian coast via Orbitello, Frascati and Sabaudia. However, the Giro d'Italia will not visit the Eternal City after the rider protest and subsequent polemic about the road conditions in central Rome.
San Giovanni Rotondo in Puglia is likely to be the southernmost point on the 2019 route, with stage 7 heading north to L'Aquila, 10 years after a terrible earthquake hit the Abruzzo city. Stage 9's 34.7km time trial from Riccione to San Marino is officially the 'wine stage' of the 2019 Giro d'Italia, celebrating the red Sangiovese wines of the area.
The riders will enjoy the first rest day near San Marino, but the mountains come thick and fast in the second week after stage 11 finishes in Novi Ligure – the birthplace of Italian legends Costante Girardengo and Fausto Coppi. It is 70 years since Coppi won the Cuneo to Pinerolo stage of the 1949 Giro, riding 192km alone through the Alps to set up overall victory. Next year's stage is unlikely to include all the same climbs but will mark the start of the first block of mountains in the Italian Alps.
Stage 13 is set to finish overlooking Lake Serrù, close to the Gran Paradiso, and at an altitude of at least 2,200 metres. The minor road avoiding a four-kilometre tunnel has just been resurfaced, but the sections at 15 per cent remain, with 30 stunning hairpins making for a spectacular climb. The Col del Nivolet has rarely been used in races but is famous for the final scenes of the movie 'The Italian Job'.
A second mountain stage takes the Giro d'Italia from Saint Vincent via the Colle San Carlo to Courmayeur close to the border with France, while stage 15 starts in Ivrea and ends in Como, perhaps covering some of the climbs used for Il Lombardia.
The riders will enjoy the second rest day near Bergamo before climbing high into the Eastern Alps via the steep Mortirolo and the legendary Passo di Gavia, where Andy Hampsten gained time on his rivals in the snow to win the 1988 Giro d'Italia.
Other mountain stages then head north and south between Val di Sole and Anterselva, Dobbiaco and Santa Maria di Sala and then Treviso and San Martino di Castrozza. The final mountain stage, on the final Saturday, is from Feltre to the Passo Croce d'Aune. It's expected to climb the Passo Manghen, the Passo Rolle and finish on the 8.5km Croce d'Aune, where Tullio Campagnolo struggled to change a wheel during a race in 1927 and so was inspired to create the quick-release lever.
The 21 days of racing will end with the final 15km time trial around Verona, making for a total of approximately 58km of time trialing. However, many of them are on hilly, rolling roads, giving the climbers a chance to limit their losses and then perhaps attack in the mountains.