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92nd Giro d'Italia - Week Two Route Preview
By Staff
Date: 5/17/2009
92nd Giro d'Italia - Week Two Route Preview

92nd Giro d'Italia - Week Two Route Preview
With the 92nd Giro d'Italia entering its second week, we give you the low-down on the stages that lie in wait for the riders over the next seven days.

By Giles Belbin

Stage 10 - 16 Week 2 graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

Sunday 17th May: Stage 9; Milan - Milan, 163 km
With the Giro celebrating its 100th year this year the organisers had a bit of dilemma. Clearly they wanted to design a race route that paid tribute to the inaugural race but they also wanted to finish the three week battle in the country's capital city Rome. Traditionally of course the race finishes in Milan and so, by way of compensation to Milan, they have given the northern city its very own city centre circuit race positioned at the end of the first stage before the first rest day.

Stage Nine then is nine laps of a circuit around the city centre of Milan. It is a technical circuit, twisting and turning through the streets of the city but also completely flat and, at 163kms, it is not particularly long. It is this race's version of the Tour's traditional finish on the Champs Elysee and that makes this a prestigious win. A number of breakaways could form and gain some time but ultimately they should be brought back by the team mates of the peloton's best sprinters, who will be working hard to ensure this stage ends in a bunch sprint. Stage 9 Live Report

Tuesday 19th May: Stage 10; Cuneo - Pinerolo, 262 km
Conditions in the Alps have conspired against the Giro organisers for stage 10. Originally this was going to be one of, if not the, most spectacular stage of the race. Initially scheduled to take the peloton over five mountain passes in homage to one of the most spectacular day's racing in the Giro's history (stage 17 of the 1949 race from Cuneo to Pinerolo saw Fausto Coppi stage one of the greatest solo breakaways in cycling's history), the stage has had to be redesigned due to a series of landslides.

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

Now the route will start with a long drag from Cuneo before hitting the slopes of the category one Mont Cenis climb after around 120 kms. From here on there is barely a flat stretch of road. Once the riders have crested the summit of the Mont Cenis pass they drop back into the valley before almost immediately starting to climb again up to Oulx before beginning the long slog up to Sestriere.

The riders climb over Sestriere after over 200 kms of racing which is then followed by nearly 45 kilometres of descent, a 7 km climb of the Pra Martino before dropping back into Pinerolo. A nasty sting in tail comes with a 400 meter stretch of cobblestones at a gradient of 15% in the final kilometre, it will be like the spring classics season all over again.

Make no mistake, despite the redesign, this is still a tough stage. It is a massive distance for a mountain stage and the Mont Cenis climb will soften up the rider's legs nicely before the legendary climb of Sestriere. There will be huge gaps opened up on that climb but it remains to be seen as to whether or not riders will be able to get time back on the 45 kilometres descent. The climb of Pre Martino, whilst not particularly long or tough could prove definitive coming as it does after some 245 kms of racing.

Wednesday 20th May: Stage 11; Torino - Arenzano 214 km

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport
After the rigours of the previous stage the peloton will be thankful for a relatively normal day's riding. The stage is pretty flat with just a couple of hills to negotiate. One comes midway through the stage and shouldn't pose too many issues but the second, the Passo del Turchino, a feature of the Milan-San Remo classic, comes just 20 km from the stage's finale. At 532 metres high, it is hard enough to help any breakaway riders that may be down the road by this time to maintain their lead, else it could act as a launch pad for an attack.

With a long descent after the climb however, there will be plenty of opportunity for the peloton bring everyone back together for a sprint finish.

Thursday 21st May: Stage 12: Sestri Levante - Riomaggiore, 60.6 km ITT

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport
Stage 12 could turn out to be perhaps the pivotal stage of the entire Giro. A 60.6 km Individual Time Trial, over lumpy terrain, this is going to be a huge test for the riders. This is the longest Time Trial the Giro has seen for over a decade which would be bad enough news for the non specialist time trial riders. But it just gets worse opening in the first 3 km with the Passo del Bracco with the road tilting skyward for jut over 15 km.

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport
Barely a flat section on the route follows the Bracco, and the course skirts the Mediterranean coast line meaning wind could also be a factor here. There are going to be some truly huge time differences here and whilst it may not be possible to win the race during stage 12, it will certainly be possible to lose it. If you want to be in Pink when the race hits Rome, a good performance here will be all important.

Friday 22nd May: Stage 13: Lido Di Camaiore - Firenze, 176 km

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport
If Stage 12 was a day for the GC contenders to show themselves, stage 13 is time for them to once again retreat into the relative safety of the main bunch and stay out of trouble.

A flat jaunt into Florence will be just the opportunity the favourites will be looking for to conserve some energy and let the sprinters in the peloton fight it out in another bunch sprint. It is just possible that a breakaway will succeed but realistically this is going to be a madcap, elbows out, dash for the line, in one of Italy's most picturesque cities.

Saturday 23rd May: Stage 14; Campi Bisenzio - Bologna, 172 km

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport
Into the Appenine Mountains for a hilly rather than hugely mountainous stage north into Bologna. That said there are five climbs of note here and whilst none top out at over 1,000 metres they come thick and fast, meaning stage 14 could prove to be a real test.

The highest of the climbs, the 932 metre Passo della Collina is the first of the climbs coming early in the stage, starting after only 30 kms with the summit of the pass coming at the 43 km mark. After that the peloton will either be riding downhill or uphill for the rest of the stage, culminating in an uphill finish at Bologna (San Luca). There will be time gaps for sure, but nothing definitive as the GC contenders will be expected to mark each other through this one.

Sunday 24th May: Stage 15; Forli-Faenza, 161 km
Another lumpy stage in the region of the late Marco Pantani. I count no fewer than six peaks on the stage profile although again none are above the magical 1,000 metre mark. Once more the peloton will feel like they are on something of a roller-coaster with pretty much no flat terrain on the stage's route.

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

A breakaway will be sure to form and gain some time, particularly early on in the stage with the Passo dell Eremo the first featured climb of the day. Potentially any break away could succeed and stay away for the full duration and, with a series of real tests still to come in the last week, provided none of the breakaway riders pose any danger to any of the GC favourites, the contender's teams will be happy to let them go.

Week Two of the 92nd Giro then will provide plenty of opportunities for everyone. Sprinters, opportunists and GC contenders should all show themselves, setting the race up nicely for the final, third week of racing.

25. May, 16. Stage: Pergola – Monte Petrano 237 km
The jewel of the week may be stage 16, a rolling stage for the first 135 kilometers; but in the final 100 kilometers of the stage three stiff climbs follow in quick succession with a summit finish on Monte Petrano. This will be one of the final stages and perhaps the best chance for the favorites who got off to a bad start and the climbers to make up time lost in the first week.  The stage reeks with opportunity, challenge and dramatic action and should prove to be one of the most crucial in this years race.

graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport

For a rider to have survived the 92nd edition to this point he will have his eyes set on the finish in Rome, but the final 5 days will be as challenging as the opening days of this year; with two more dramatic settings for mountain top finishes, Blockhaus and mount Vesuvius.  If the parcours of the Giro did anything, it provided opportunities for second chances and redemption. Stages 17 and 19 are the last to challenge for the final victory in Rome or to climb to the podium.

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