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93rd Giro d'Italia - Parcours Preview Week 1
By Giles Belbin
Date: 5/5/2010
93rd Giro d'Italia - Parcours Preview Week 1

© 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

With the Spring Classics an ever fading memory it's time for the peloton to shut up the home, turn off the gas, pack the large suitcase and tell the cat they may be gone some time, yes it is time for the first Grand Tour of the year - the 2010 Giro d'Italia and you better buckle up, the route's a cracker.

raphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

The race starts with three stages in the Netherlands before the riders get an early rest day as they head south to Italy for a stage 4 Team Time Trial. A flat stage five followed by a couple of hilly stages then lead the peloton towards the first mountain stage to Monte Terminillo on stage 8. Four flat stages, punctuated only by a hillier stage 11, follow before the road heads upwards again on stage 14 at the start of what perhaps could be the toughest closing week of any Grand Tour for some time.

The mountainous stage 14 is followed by a stage 15 finish on Monte Zoncolon. After a well-earned second rest day the riders face a mountain Time Trial up the graveled Plan de Corones. They get a slight respite from the mountains for a couple of days before tackling two massive mountain stages featuring the Mortirolo and the Passo di Gavia respectively. The race culminates in a final Time Trial around Verona. It is a brutal final week that will keep the General Classification difficult to call right up to the last day. But we're getting ahead of ourselves, the final week fireworks are all to come. So, for now, let us content ourselves with the first 8 stages. Here then is part one of the Daily Peloton's preview to the parcours of the 93rd Giro d'Italia.

Stage 1; Saturday 8th May; Amsterdam-Amsterdam, ITT, 8.4km

raphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

For the first time since 2006, when the race started in Belgium, the Giro starts outside of Italy. The opening stage is an 8.4km Individual Time Trial around the streets of Amsterdam. With barely a pimple on the route there shouldn't be any nasty surprises for the TT specialists. It's going to be a short, sharp and, for the rider lucky enough to pull on the race's first Maglia Rosa, it's going to be a particularly sweet day.

Stage 2; Sunday 9th May; Amsterdam-Utrecht, 209km

raphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

The riders leave Amsterdam on a twisting route south-east before reaching the town of Rhenen where they go on an anti-clockwise loop before heading north-west to Utrecht. It's a flat day in the saddle and so early on in the race it's certain to be a nervous, twitchy day. It is also certain that the cycling fans of Utrecht will be treated to a mass bunch sprint finish.

Stage 3; Monday 10th May; Amsterdam-Middleburg, 224km

raphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

By now the riders must be wondering what on earth they have to do to get out of Amsterdam. Three days in and they're still surrounded by the canals and coffee houses. But today they can at last tip the maid and wave a final goodbye to their hotels as stage three sees the peloton leaving the Dutch capital for good. Yesterday's stage will seem positively lumpy in comparison to today's ride to Middelburg. So flat you could cut the profile out and use it instead of a spirit level to hang some shelves, the only danger here to a bunch sprint finale is the winds that could blow off the coast. They could lead to some interesting splits in the peloton should there are any dozing riders out there, but it is far more likely we will see the second mass sprint in succession.

Stage 4; Wednesday 12th May; Savigliano-Cuneo, TTT, 32.5km

raphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

After three days in Netherlands followed by an early rest day to recover from the lengthy transfer south, the peloton finally make it on to Italian soil for a 32.5km Team Time Trial. Starting in Savigliano in the north-west of the country, the route takes the riders south to the town of Cuneo, the start town of last year's stage 10, a 262km marathon mountain stage won by the later disgraced Danilo Di Luca.

As always with a TTT, teamwork will be vital on today's stage. The course is not particularly technical and although the road rises all the way it is more of a false flat than anything else. We'll be sure to see another showdown between the HTC-Columbia and Garmin squads for bragging rights although this time the new boys, Team Sky, could just gatecrash the party. Whatever the result, tonight's GC will look nothing like this morning's.

Stage 5; Thursday 13th May; Novara-Novi Liguire, 168km

raphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

After yesterday's exertions in the TTT, stage 5 represents a welcome day of relative rest for the GC contenders. Another flat stage, with just a couple of small inclines to get over after 107kms and 121kms respectively, the stage is nailed on to finish in a bunch sprint to the line. The route takes the peloton through the town of Castellania, birthplace of the great Fausto Coppi, and the finish town, Novi Ligure, boasts the Museo dei Campionissimi which pays homage to the great man. Today the race will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Coppi, paying due respect to the campionissimo, who died of malaria in 1960.

Stage 6; Friday 14th May; Fidenza-Carrara; 166km

raphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

The race route continues south with the first stage that isn't either a flat, sprinter's stage or time trial. From the very start the road tilts upwards, albeit initially gradually. At the 66km mark there comes a rude awakening as the road rears steeply up to the 940m+ Passo del Brattello. There follows another two climbs, the 654m Spolverina, maxing out at 10% gradient and finally the 286m Beddizzano. Nothing here for the climbers to get too excited about but the climbs are nicely placed to encourage an escape and we could see our first attack of the race succeeding and staying away to claim the win.

Stage 7; Saturday 15th May; Carrara-Montalcino, 215km

raphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

Stage 7 and it's time for the Giro to present it's version of July's Tour de France's own heavily publicised cobbled stages, yes it's time for the Giro to unleash the Strade Bianche. A flat opening to the stage will lull the riders into ta false sense of security before they hit the unmade gravel roads and the rolling hills of Tuscany. It should be an action packed final 100kms or so as the riders battle to maintain position on the Strade Bianche, Italy's answer to the pave of Paris-Roubaix, praying that they won't fall foul of an unfortunate puncture or mechanical problem before a final climb to 600m on the Poggio Civitella and a short downhill to the finish. An exciting and unpredictable stage should certainly be the order of the day.

Stage 8; Sunday 16th May; Chianciano Terme-Monte Terminillo; 189 km
The first big mountain stage of the race, the first summit finish and the first opportunity for the big guns to show their hands, although with a week of relatively benign stages to come, the urge to climb into the Maglia Rosa might just be outweighed by the desire not to have the pressure of defending it until the final, definitive week.

graphic © 210 Gazzetta dello Sport

It's a rolling stage that comes with the vicious sting in the tail that is Monte Terminillo. The climb up the Terminillo is a 16.1km slog to 1672m, maxing out at an incline of 12% and with long stretches hovering around 8%. It's prime attacking ground for the GC contenders but probably comes too early in the race for any stinging attacks to be launched. It's far more likely that the favourites will mark each other, keen to ensure they don't lose time here, rather than gain it. But you never know, a la Contador in last year's Tour stage to Andorra, a GC contender feeling good on the day might just decide the time is right to disappear up the road and throw down a marker to his opponents, despite being just one week into the race.

And that's week one of the 93rd Giro done. Eight stages, two Time Trials, one mountain climb and a host of bunch sprints should leave the race delicately poised with, in all probability, most, if not all of the GC contenders well placed.

Be sure to check back soon for part two of the Daily Peloton's preview to the parcours of the 93rd Giro d' Italia.

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