Race Guide: Giro d'Italia

Preview of the 96th edition

Last updated: 17th May 2013

Few races evoke passion and excitement in fans and riders alike than the Giro d'Italia.

Team Sky line-up:
181. Bradley Wiggins
182. Dario Cataldo
183. Sergio Henao
184. Christian Knees
185. Danny Pate
186. Salvatore Puccio
187. Kanstantsin Siutsou
188. Rigoberto Urán
189. Xabier Zandio

21 stages
Class: Grand Tour
UCI WorldTour

Jerseys:
Pink - General classification
Red - Points classification
Blue - Mountains classification
White - Young Rider classification

Past winners:
2012: Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) - Garmin-Sharp
2011: Michele Scarponi (ITA) - Lampre-ISD
2010: Ivan Basso (ITA) - Liquigas
2009: Denis Menchov (RUS) - Rabobank

Full 2012 results

Official website
@Giroditalia
#Giro

The Giro d'Italia offers four jerseys:
Pink: overall leader
Red: points classification leader

Blue: mountains classification leader

White: best young rider

Points classification
- Intermediate sprints: 8, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 point awarded to the first six riders over the line.
- Stage finishes: 25, 20, 16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 point awarded to the first 15 finishers.

Mountains classification
- "Cima Coppi" (highest point of the race): 21, 15, 9, 5, 3, 2 and 1 point awarded to the first seven riders over the summit.
- Category-one climbs: 15, 9, 5, 3, 2 and 1 point awarded to the first six riders over the summit.
- Category-two climbs: 9, 5, 3, 2 and 1 point awarded to the first five riders over the summit.
- Category-three climbs: 5, 3, 2 and 1 point awarded to the first four riders over the summit.
- Category-four climbs: 3, 2 and 1 point awarded to the first three riders over the summit.

The pink jersey is held by the leader of the general classification, while the white jersey is held by the highest rider on the general classification aged 25 or under.

The Giro also offers times bonuses in the following way:

- Intermediate sprints: 5, 3 and 2 seconds for the first three riders over the line
- Stage finishes: 20, 12 and 8 seconds for the first three finishers (time trials not included)

Also see

The Grand Tour continues to grow in stature year on year and over 21 stages will produce a worthy winner in 2013.

The route this time around features an increase in time trialling kilometres but retains a host of spectacular summit finishes, including a brief foray into France for a famous climb.

The 96th edition kicks off in Naples with a rare road stage to decide the first recipient of the maglia rosa. The race then completes its southern tour of the country before heading north to decide things on the run into Brescia.

Stages

Saturday 4 May – Stage one: Naples to Naples, 156km

For the first time in 10 years the race begins with a road stage as the sprinters get the chance to fight it out for the first opportunity to don the maglia rosa. The entirety of the action takes place on the Napoli seafront, with the 156km test split into two distinct circuits. After heading away from the Piazza Plebiscito the riders head for four passages of the 16.3km ‘Circuito Lungo’. Each time around the field will tackle the fourth category crest on the Via Francesco Petrarca, the second and third climbs paying out points in the early fight for the green mountains jersey. Things tighten up heading towards the finale for eight pan-flat laps of the 8km ‘Circuito Corto’. A nailed-on bunch sprint guarantees a thrilling fight for pink.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1300-1630 with highlights from 1930 on Sky Sports 3.

Sunday 5 May – Stage two: Ischia to Forio (team time trial), 17.4km

The race strays away from the mainland briefly for a showpiece team time trial on the island of Ischia. A relatively short test, it will be important to not lose too much time ahead of more significant stages to come. Wind could play a factor as the route heads along the coast, the terrain undulating gradually either side of the intermediate time check in Casamicciola Terme. The route juts inland at Lacco Ameno, cutting off the north-west corner of the island before looping down to the finish in Forio. The stage could see the jersey change hands but time gaps are not expected to be significant.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport 2 between 1330-1630 with highlights from 2200 on Sky Sports 2.

Monday 6 May – Stage three: Sorrento to Marina di Ascea, 212km

The race makes its first foray into the medium mountains with an interesting stage which will see the result on a knife-edge as the sprinters fight to stay in the game. The majority of the action is confined to a final 40 kilometre stretch which sees the peloton tackle two climbs. Another day spent hugging the coast on the run down to the foot of the country, the first major challenge arrives in the form of the second category San Mauro Cilento (153km). The race turns inland for a second time for the final climb of the Sella di Cantona. The third category effort could cause issues for the fast men situated so close to the finish. A tense chase back on the descent into Ascea should set up an exciting finish.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1315-1630 with highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 4.

Tuesday 7 May – Stage four: Policastro Bussentino to Serra San Bruno, 244km

The longest stage of the race sends the riders to the most southerly point of the Giro as the action kicks up a notch in Calabria. Another day glued largely to the coast of the Med, the stage is back-loaded with tough terrain after a day spent largely on the flat. The stage will spark into life at Vibo Valentia (206.8) for a third category climb which could act as a handy springboard ahead of the finale. The road kicks up again at Soriano Calabro for the second category Croce Ferrata. Not a summit finish, whoever hits the top first will have just short of 7km to dig in on the slight downhill run into the hilltop town of Serra San Bruno.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1315-1630 with highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 4.

Wednesday 8 May – Stage five: Cosenza to Matera, 199km

Rarely do the sprinters have it easy and stage five at the Giro is no exception as again the finale looks to spice things up. It will all come down to the legs in a finale which features both a category four climb and an unclassified drag up to the line in Matera. Kicking off from Cosenza a slight downhill gradient should see a breakaway push clear ahead of the Cant. San Salvatore (44.8km) climb. From there the stage is pan-flat as the race moves back north up the coast through Villapiana Lido and Rocca Imperiale. Moving inland there will no doubt be attacks on the brief 309m Montescaglioso ascent. The test doesn’t end there as the road kicks up again into Matera to set up a fight between the puncheurs and in-form sprinters.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1330-1630 with highlights from 2200 on Sky Sports 2.

Thursday 9 May – Stage six: Mola di Bari to Margherita di Savoia, 154km

A stage which every sprinter will have circled in their roadbooks, day six removes all complications in a straight-up drag race between the lead-out trains. Kicking off in Mola di Bari the race again sticks to the coast, passing through Bari as the sprint teams look to keep tabs on the breakaway. The men up front should soak up the points at a pair of sprints in Trani (64.9km) and Barletta (76.4km) before the race arrives at the finishing circuit. Margherita di Savoia will host the finish and two laps of the 16.6km ‘Circuito Delle Saline’. One of only a few chances in the race to duke it out, the sprinters will need to make the most of this opportunity.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1315-1630 with highlights from 2200 on Sky Sports 4.

Friday 10 May – Stage seven: San Salvo to Pescara, 162km

Despite never rising above 484 metres the sight of a saw-tooth stage profile signals a brutally tough day out. Four categorised climbs don’t tell the full story as beyond the 40km mark there is barely a moment of flat terrain. The result will be a hard stage for whichever team is looking to defend pink as the race heads into Abruzzo. Riders looking to win the race will have to be vigilant and stay to the fore as every small but steep ramp has the potential to spawn a decisive attack. Villamagna (121.5km) marks the first of the categorised ascents as the race criss-crosses the cycling hotbed. The stage could likely go to a breakaway and the strongest will out after the final climb at San Silvestro.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1315-1630 with highlights from 2130 on Sky Sports 3.

Saturday 11 May – Stage eight: Gabicce Mare to Saltara (individual time trial), 55km

The second week kicks off with one of the most important stages of the race as the overall contenders go head to head in a hefty time trial test. The 55km run is deceptive with a number of undulations and a very twisty start following the ramp in Gabicce Mare. Things begin to straighten out following the time check in Pesaro (26km) but the crests and falls remain, notably the ramp up to Novilara. One final time check in Calcinelli should give a real indicator ahead of a final drag up to the finish in Saltara. Surprisingly early in the race for such a pivotal stage, the end result should see gaps open out in the general classification and set the agenda heading into the final two weeks of racing.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1330-1630 with highlights from 2000 on Sky Sports 4.

Sunday 12 May – Stage 9: Sansepolcro to Florence, 181km

The riders have one last effort to put in before the first rest day, but it is not an easy one. A 181km medium-mountain stage awaits containing four categorised climbs. The opening 65km are gentle enough, but the road then starts to get lumpy as the riders are taken over the category-two Passo della Consuma (82km) and then the category-one Vallombrosa (107km). Two more climbs – 22km and 11km from the line – will either help a breakaway stay clear or see the field whittled down ahead of a small rise up to the finish line in Florence.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1330-1630 with highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 4.

Tuesday 14 May - Stage 10: Cordenons to Altopiano del Montasio, 167km

The race moves to the north-east of Italy and into the high mountains for the first time. A 167km route skirting Udine takes in two category-one climbs and offers up the race’s first true summit finish, which is almost certain to give the general classification its first real shake-up. The route is relatively gentle for the first 90km, but then the road rises up to scale the Passo Cason di Lanza, which summits at 117km after a 15km climb that reaches a stinging maximum gradient of 16 per cent. A straightforward descent gives the legs a breather before the long, 22km drag up to the finish line at Altopiano del Montasio.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1315-1630 with highlights from 1930 on Sky Sports 2.

Wednesday 15 May – Stage 11: Tarvisio (Cave del Predil) to Vajont 1963/2013 (Erto e Casso), 184km

The race remains in north-east Italy for the start of stage 11 but then heads west on a route that is largely downhill apart from a pair category-two climbs at 120km and then the finish line. An opening 70km of gentle downhill will likely see a breakaway dart clear, but the GC contenders will be more concerned about marking moves on the long climb to Sella Ciampigotto. The summit is still 60km from the finish line, but riders high up the standings are unlikely to be given any leeway. The road then drops back down ahead of the short, sharp climb to the finish line.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1330-1630 with highlights from 1930 on Sky Sports 2.

Thursday 16 May - Stage 12: Longarone to Treviso, 127km

The sprinters return to the fore for a short stage that the GC contenders could well view as an unofficial rest day. Apart from a couple of minor climbs at 11km, 57km and 93km, the day offers up very few obstacles and is almost certain to finish in a bunch sprint.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1330-1630 with highlights from 2130 on Sky Sports 2.

Friday 17 May – Stage 13: Busseto to Cherasco, 242km

The race moves to the north-west of Italy for another flat stage, albeit this time almost twice as long as the day before, with the 242km distance being the second-furthest of the race. The parcours is pan-flat for 150km and the only rise in the road of any significance is the category-three climb of Tre Cuni after 217km. The last 20km undulate, but the inclines aren’t testing enough to deter the sprinters’ team setting up a bunch finish.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1330-1630 with highlights from 1830 on Sky Sports 4.

Saturday 18 May – Stage 14: Cervere to Bardonecchia (Jafferau), 156km

The race returns to the high mountains for the first of two back-to-back summit finishes ahead of the second rest day. A 156km route starts with 70km of flat before the riders are sent up the long climb to the ski resort of Sestriere, which tops out at 125km. The GC contenders are likely to save their attacks, however, because after a sharp descent back down into the Susa Valley, they have to climb back up, first to Bardonecchia, and then further still to the finish line at Jafferau. It’s not the longest or steepest of Italy’s climbs, but legs tired from two weeks of racing will nevertheless find the going tough and gaps could be opened up.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport between 1330-1630 with highlights from 1930 on Sky Sports 1.

Sunday 20 May - Stage 15: Cesana Torinese to Col du Galibier, 150km

Before the second rest day can be reached the riders are thrown straight back into the high mountains for another brutal stage with a summit finish. After leaving Italy behind and crossing the border into France, the peloton will tackle three categorised climbs, two of which are iconic and regular fixtures in the Tour de France. First up is the category-one Col du Mont Cenis, which although relatively gentle in gradient, drags on for almost 26km. The road then drops back down before entering deep into Tour country with ascents of the category-two Col du Telegraphe (summit at 126km) and then the Col du Galibier, where the finish line waits after 18km of climbing at an average of 6.9 per cent. The race won’t be won on these two climbs, but for some it will be where it is lost. Those who are still in sight of victory after this stage will be the ones who challenge for overall victory in Brescia a week later.

TV coverage: Live on Eurosport 2 between 1130-1630 with highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 2.

Tuesday 21 May – Stage 16: Valloire to Ivrea, 216km

The riders return to action after the second rest day but are given no chance to ease themselves back in gently. Instead, they are faced with a medium-mountain stage containing two categorised climbs that starts with a frantic descent of the Col du Telegraphe. The road then rises back up over the category-one Col du Montcenis, which summits after 68km, before tackling a fast and winding descent back onto Italian soil as the route swings east towards Turin. The riders get a breather with 110km of flat road, but the category-three climb to Andrate is waiting 17.5km from the line. The breakaway is unlikely to survive the long section of flat, so the winner could well come from a reduced-bunch sprint.

Highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 4.

Wednesday 22 May – Stage 17: Caravaggio to Vicenza, 203km

The general classification contenders get a chance to take it easy as a flat stage moves the emphasis on to the sprinters. The race heads east on a 203km route that passes Brescia and Verona before reaching its climax in Vicenza. There is a complication, however, as the category-four Crosara climb looms just 17km from the finish. If enough riders can break clear of the peloton on its slopes and work together on the run the line, there is potential for a reduced-bunch finish. Otherwise, the day will end in a mass sprint.

Highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 4.

Thursday 23 May - Stage 18: Mori to Polsa individual time trial, 19.4km

The race will be decided over three critical days in the hills, with Thursday’s mountain time trial being followed by back-to-back summit finishes. The time trial offers a major opportunity for general classification contenders to make significant gains on their rivals, with the course climbing for 19.4km up a consistently testing gradient that reaches its maximum at 10 per cent. The road is riddled with hairpin bends as the route twists and turns its way out of Mori and up the hillside towards Polsa. The likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins will look to create gaps to their rivals here to give themselves something to defend in the remaining mountain stages.

Highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 4.

Friday 24 May – Stage 19: Ponte di Legno to Val Martello, 138km

The first of the back-to-back summit finishes comes on the brutally hilly yet stunningly picturesque stage 19. The day is actually a relatively short one, at 138km, but there is hardly any flat road as the parcours takes the riders over three epic climbs. First up is the Passo Gavia (17.4km long, average gradient 7.9 per cent, maximum gradient 16 per cent) which tops out at 23km, after which the riders dash down to the ski resort of Bormio, before rearing back up to tackle the legendary Passo di Stelvio (21.3km long, average gradient 7.1 per cent), which summits at 70km. Descending skills will then be tested to their limit on the iconic switchbacks of the eastern flank of the Stelvio, before it’s time for the climb to the summit finish at Val Martello (22.4km long, average 6.1 per cent). In total, the day carries a backbreaking total of 4,300m of climbing.

Highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 4.

Saturday 25 May – Stage 20: Silandro/Schlanders to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, 202km

The race’s queen and potentially decisive stage takes the riders on another spectacular parcours through the Dolomites, albeit over a much longer, 202km distance. This time there are five climbs to negotiate, with the first two being the category-two Passo Costalunga at 90km and the category-two Passo di San Pellegrino at 117km. Both of those are just warm-ups, though, ahead of a monstrous final 55km that kicks off with the category-one Passo Giau (10.4km long, average gradient 9.1 per cent). The road dips down to the ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, before rearing back up to the category-two Passo Tre Corci at 189km and then the summit finish at the dramatic Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The first to the top here could well also be on the top step of the podium in Brescia.

Highlights from 2100 on Sky Sports 4.

Sunday 26 May – Stage 21: Riese Pio X to Brescia, 199km

The race’s final stage should be processional as far as the general classification is concerned, with a pan-flat route offering up no opportunity for meaningful attacks. That will bring the sprinters back to the fore, with the stage ending in seven 4.2km laps of Brescia and a dash to the finish line. It is here that the winner's trophy will be lifted.

Highlights from 1900 on Sky Sports 1.