Carefully-crafted 2012 Giro route unveiled, tough final three days point to big showdown
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Carefully-crafted 2012 Giro route unveiled, tough final three days point to big showdown

by Shane Stokes at 2:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
Plenty of opportunity for both climbers and sprinters

Giro dSeeking to both prolong the suspense and also to keep the riders fresher for longer, a balanced but dramatic Giro d’Italia route was unveiled by organisers RCS Sport in Milan today. The layout matched the parcours leaked one week ago, with exactly the same start and finish locations being confirmed. However today’s presentation provided more details, with the types of stages plus the roads covered and climbs crossed between each days’ start and endpoints being revealed.

The course is a balanced mixture between mountain stages and days for the sprinters and breakaway riders. As new Giro chief Michael Acquarone previously promised, the race route is a more ‘human’ one, and is clearly different to the on and off-bike demands placed on the competitors this year. Then, huge transfers and a succession of gruelling mountain stages represented big mental and physical challenges, with the net effect being a race that was decided long before the finish.

That foregone conclusion was probably as much due to the dominance of Alberto Contador as it was due to the course, but the 2012 format should still prolong the suspense until the final three decisive days. There, with two major mountain stages plus a final time trial winding things up, the final winner will be decided. But, all going to plan, his identity will be uncertain until that point in time.

Race analysis:

The 2012 event commences on Saturday 5th with the first of three days in Denmark. The action starts with a completely flat 8.7 kilometre time trial in Herning, hometown of 1996 Tour de France winner and Saxo Bank SunGard owner Bjarne Riis. The following day starts and finishes in the same location and, once again, is completely flat. The 206 kilometre race looks destined to finish with a big bunch sprint, and so too stage three, with one small climb interrupting an otherwise level 190 kilometres from Horsen to Horsen.

The race’s first rest day comes on Tuesday May 8th; it’s unusually early in a Grand Tour, but the day will be used to fly the riders back to Italy prior to the start of stage 4 in the 2004 world championship town of Verona. That day’s action will see the riders clash in a 32.2 kilometre team time trial, and will further spread an otherwise compact general classification.

The sprinters have more to smile about on the following day’s 199 kilometre trek from Modena to Fano. One small climb should do little to deter a mass finish, but the lumpy parcours of Friday May 11th’s 207 kilometre race from Urbino to Port Sant’Elpidio is much more favourable to the breakaway riders. The same can be said of the following day’s 202 kilometres between Recanati to Rocca di Cambio, although the summit finish should see the GC contenders battle it out for the stage win.

The mountain theme continues the following day with another uphill fight at the end of the 229 kilometres from Sulmona to Lago Laceno. The summit of the final climb, the Colle Molella, comes 4.3 kilometres from the finish and further GC changes are likely on what is the second-longest day of the 2012 race.

More chances for sprinters:

The 2011 race had little to offer the bulkier riders in the peloton but the 2012 Giro’s endeavours to be a more human race means that the sprinters and rouleurs should have more opportunity. Stage nine covers almost completely flat roads from San Giorgio nel Sannio to Frosinone, and all bets will be that the 171 kilometre dash will see the fastmen clash for the day’s honours.

The subsequent race from Civitavecchia to Assisi takes in 187 kilometres of undulating terrain and should see a big bunch hurtle towards the finish, although the final seven kilometres is uphill and this should break things up. However the following day’s marathon from Assisi to Montecatini Terme is a sure thing, though, with just one categorised climb ruffling feathers early on before a long buildup to a big gallop.

Things start getting more demanding again on stage 12 from Seravezza to Sestri Levante; after a flat 45 kilometre start, a series of shark-tooth climbs rear up. The altitude never extends over 700 metres, but the constant undulations and upwards pitches will make this a rough 157 kilometre day in the saddle. The final 9.5 kilometres are downhill, and so whomever is clear on the last climb will have a very strong chance of winning.

The sprinters have another day to shine on the next day’s 121 kilometre race from Savona to Cervere. Time trials aside, this is the shortest stage of the race and is progressively flatter as the day goes on. It could lead to some very fast racing, although with two big days in the mountains coming up, the riders may elect not to go all out from the drop of the flag.

Stage 14 from Cherasco to Cervinia points towards a major GC battle, with the final 67 kilometres either being straight up or straight down. The first of two climbs is the 1640 metre Col de Joux, which tops out 45 kilometres from the finish, then after an 18 kilometre descent, the final climb of Cervinia begins and will see sparks fly.

Ditto for the following day’s finish, which is also an uphill one to Lecco/Pian dei Resinelli. That last climb is preceded by three others and with a rest day coming afterwards, those who are feeling good will certainly throw down the gauntlet.

After that day off on May 21st, battle recommences in Limone sul Garda for stage 16. This 174 kilometre trek to Falzes/Pfalzen has a very unusual profile, as it climbs from 245 to 998 metres over the final 80 kilometres of the stage. The long, gradual ascent will encourage early attacks, while a steeper kick up in the final five kilometres should produce some good racing.

Stage 17 has a more traditional mountain profile, featuring four big peaks (including two over 2,000 metres), including the Passo Giau. Twenty kilometres of descending come after the summit, and will see the splintered groups trying to regain contact with those ahead.

Stage 18 also features a descent, but this is vastly different; the start in San Vito di Cadore is 974 metres high, while the finishing town of Vedelago is a full 929 metres lower than that. The 139 kilometre stage is essentially one long drop down from one to the other, although the slight average gradient will likely only see a small increase in speed. The opportunity will be seized by the sprinters, though, as it represents their very last chance in the race.

Three decisive days then remain; the first of those is a tough 197 kilometres from Treviso to the top of the Alpe di Pampeago, with the high climbs of Passo Manghen, Passo Pamepago Reiterjoch and Passo Lavaze coming before the final uphill melee.

The following day’s stage is even tougher, with the early climbs of Passo del Tonale, Aprica and Teglio being following by the Giro’s big mountain climax, namely the double of the Mortirolo and the 2,757 metre high monster of the Passo dello Stelvio. All-out war is guaranteed there, with the climbers knowing that it’s their final chance to strike before a pan-flat 31.5 kilometre time trial in Milan.


2012 Giro d'Italia, May 5-May 27

Stage 1, 5 May: Herning – Herning ITT (8,7 km)
Stage 2, 6 May: Herning – Herning (206 km)
Stage 3, 7 May: Horsens – Horsens (190 Km)
Rest day, 8 May: Transfer to Italy
Stage 4, 9 May: Verona – Verona TTT (32,2 km)
Stage 5, 10 May: Modena – Fano (199 km)
Stage 6, 11 May: Urbino – Porto Sant’Elpidio (207 Km)
Stage 7, 12 May: Recanati – Rocca di Cambio (202 km)
Stage 8, 13 May: Sulmona – Lago Laceno (229 km)
Stage 9, 14 May: San Giorgio nel Sannio – Frosinone (171 km)
Stage 10, 15 May: Civitavecchia – Assisi (187 km)
Stage 11, 16 May: Assisi – Montecatini Terme (243 Km)
Stage 12, 17 May: Seravezza – Sestri Levante (157 km)
Stage 13, 18 May: Savona – Cervere (121 km)
Stage 14, 19 May: Cherasco – Cervinia (205 km)
Stage 15, 20 May: Busto Arsizio – Lecco/Pian dei Resinelli (172 km)
Rest day, 21 May
Stage 16, 22 May: Limone sul Garda – Falzes/Pfalzen (174 km)
Stage 17, 23 May: Falzes/Pfalzen – Cortina d’Ampezzo (187 km)
Stage 18, 24 May: San Vito di Cadore – Vedelago (139 km)
Stage 19, 25 May: Treviso – Alpe di Pampeago (197km)
Stage 20, 26 May: Caldes/Val di Sole – Passo dello Stelvio (218 km)
Stage 21, 27 May: Milano – Milano ITT (31,5 km)


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