With just 4 Days to go before the 2003 Giro d'Italia is officially unveiled at Milan's Auditorium theatre (previously scheduled for Saturday, October 16th, it was delayed two weeks due to a strike of Italian journalists), rumors concerning the shape the race could take are growing by the day.
And according to the latest ones, the route should look like the following:
Stage 01 / May 10 - Saturday: Lecce (Giro del Salento) - km. 190
Stage 02 / May 11 - Sunday: Lecce-Matera - km. 184
Stage 03 / May 12 - Monday: Matera-Terme Luigiane - km. 215
Stage 04 / May 13 - Tuesday: Terme Luigiane-Vibo Valentia - km. 157
Stage 05 / May 14 - Wednesday: Messina-Catania - km. 170
/ May 15 - Thursday: Rest Day
Stage 06 / May 16 - Friday: Aversa-Avezzano - km. 210
Stage 07 / May 17 - Saturday: Avezzano-Terminillo - km. 146
Stage 08 / May 18 - Sunday: Rieti-Arezzo - km. 217
Stage 09 / May 19 - Monday: Arezzo-Montecatini Terme - km. 154
Stage 10 / May 20 - Tuesday: Montecatini Terme-Faenza - km. 202
Stage 11 / May 21 - Wednesday: Faenza-S. Doną di Piave - km. 190
Stage 12 / May 22 - Thursday: S. Doną di Piave-Passo Zoncolan - km. 185 (*)
Stage 13 / May 23 - Friday: Pordenone-Marostica - km. 155
Stage 14 / May 24 - Saturday: Marostica-Alpe di Pampeago - km. 172
Stage 15 / May 25 - Sunday: Merano-Bolzano (ITT) - km. 42
Stage 16 / May 26 - Monday: Arco di Trento-Pavia - km.207
/ May 27 - Tuesday: Rest Day
Stage 17 / May 28 - Wednesday: Salice Terme-Asti - km. 130
Stage 18 / May 29 - Thursday: Bra-Ponte Chianale - km. 175
Stage 19 / May 30 - Friday: C. Val Formazza-Cascate del Toce - km. 213
Stage 20 / May 31 - Saturday: Canobbio-Cantł - km. 120
Stage 21 / June 01 - Sunday: Milano Idroscalo-Piazza Duomo (ITT) - km. 40
At first glance, there are at least three new, outstanding features marking the route of the 2003 Giro: first of all, Italian organizers seeminbly decided to follow the steps of their Spanish colleagues, and give fans something thrilling in the ultimate leg too, a final stage
taking the shape of a decisive ITT, instead of the usual "procession" paying tribute to the already known
winner. And a Time-Trial also finishing into Milan's best possible scenery: "Piazza Duomo", the square in front of the city's worldwide famous cathedral.
But while, as for stages against the clock, the Giro will not follow the vuelta's example, skipping the time Time Trial in the "corsa rosa"), and even the usual prologue (such that Cipo could likely equal Binda's record of Giro stage wins right on the first day, as the flat roads around Lecce, in the south-eastern Apulia region, particularly suit him and brought him good luck in the past too), other big news worthy of hitting the headlines should be the inclusion of the "Giant of the Dolomites", the lesser-known Monte Zoncolan located in the Carnia area of Friuli (north-eastern part of country) and rated as more difficult than the feared Mortirolo.
At least if tackled on the Ovaro side anyway: a 10.5 km. ascent featuring an altitude difference of 1210 meters,
an average gradient of 11.52%, and a maximum of about 20%. But seems that riders will have to climb the other side, from the town of Sutrio: a 13.5-km. long ascent whose average gradient is 8.9%, and the maximum one goes up to about 17%.
Besides this, at least two more uphill finishes (the first into Monte Terminillo, not far from Rome, the other one into Alpe di Pampeago) should be taken for granted.
Should be ... but now you'd better regard all these tidbits as simple rumors, waiting for on Saturday when whole truth will be told. And the "Daily Peloton" will be delivering you a full coverage of the 2003 Giro presentation, with details, comemnts and a detailed, stage-by-stage guide of the next season's first Grand Tour. Don't miss it !