Giro d'Italia 2020: Stage 1 preview

Stage 1: Monreale - Palermo

Date: October 3, 2020 

Distance: 15.1km 

Stage start: 1pm CEST

Stage type: Time Trial

Sicily, which had been slated as the start location for the 2021 corsa rosa, was originally due to host stages four, five and six of this race after the Grande Partenza had taken place in Budapest. However, as a consequence of the Giro’s Covid-enforced postponement from its traditional start date in May and the simultaneous cancellation of the Hungarian interlude, Sicily stepped in as the replacement, adding this time trial to the trio of stages already planned out.

Similar in length to the Budapest opener, it’s an unusual test, starting in the historic town of Monreale, just inland from Palermo. It begins with a kilometre-long ascent, winding up through tight and sometimes steep streets to reach Monreale’s 12th century Norman cathedral. This is rated as a fourth-category climb, so the fastest rider through the intermediate time check adjacent to this magnificent edifice will take the blue jersey as the first leader of the mountains competition.

From that high point, there’s a very fast and, two hairpins apart, straight descent into the heart of Palermo to reach the second intermediate time check as the route swings 90 degrees left on Via Roma. The final half-dozen kilometres are mainly on three long straights connected by sweeping bends through the old part of the city, and these will also be extremely fast.

Considering it’s only 15.1km long, there is something for almost every type of rider in this course. However, the long straights in the centre of Palermo should give the time trial specialists an edge, notably Ineos Grenadiers’ newly-crowned world time trial champion Filippo Ganna, who was the convincing winner of the TT at Tirreno-Adriatico recently, his team leader Geraint Thomas and NTT’s Victor Campenaerts, the runner-up in that Tirreno test.

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