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88th Giro d'Italia - Route Presentation
By Fabio
Date: 1/22/2005
88th Giro d'Italia - Route Presentation

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After several delays, reportedly due to a matter of TV rights, the 88th “Giro Ciclistico d’Italia” has been officially presented at Milan’s Mazda Palace this Saturday afternoon. With new race boss Angelo Zomegnan, a former Gazzetta dello Sport journalist who replaced Neapolitan lawyer Carmine Castellano, and many other top personalities of the Italian cycling scene attending, route and details of the first Grand Tour of the season, running from May 07-29, have been unveiled.

As many sources anticipated, the race is going to kick off on the evening (this is good news for fans overseas) of Saturday, May 7, with one of the shortest ITT prologues in the history of this sport, a 1.150-km. ride, actually a large sprint (but of the kind that can make your legs ache, some riders said) along the lungomare (seafront) of the southern city of Reggio Calabria, situated on what is sometimes referred to as “the very tip of the toe of the Italian boot”.

The following Sunday the peloton starts its journey northward, with the first road stage, running entirely on Calabrian territory. Obviously one for the sprinters, that might also grab the “maglia rosa” in case they didn’t 24 hours before. With up to 10 “easy” stages, the Petacchis (and yes, still the Cipollinis too) of the bunch are given many other opportunities in days to come. Although as the race gets back to “cartoons town” Giffoni Valle Piana, the Santa Tecla climb could make the first significant gaps. And with the route going up and down the Appennines in the following stages (particularly stage 5, finishing into L’Aquila), both riders aiming for a bunch sprint and (for different reasons) overall contenders should be careful not to be taken by surprise.

Then the Tour of Italy pays homage to one of the Greats of Italian cycling, the legendary Gino Bartali, e.g. Fausto Coppi's number one - and only real - rival (who passed away on the eve of the Y2K Giro start), with the first true ride against the clock, a 41.5-km. journey finishing into his hometown Florence. And starting in Andrea Tafi’s Lamporecchio. Specialists of the so-called “race of truth” are given another chance two days away from the Giro end, courtesy of the 31-km. ITT from Chieri to Turin. Although with the Superga climb ("the Mountain of Turin") coming halfway through the parcours, this stage is not for pure specialists only.

And this "race of truth" is also "surrounded" by mountain stages because one more time, although perhaps a little bit less than in the most recent past, the Giro route is more suited to the mountain goats. Who can find room to show their skills in most of the second half of the race. To start with the first uphill finish, Zoldo Alto, coming at the end of stage 11, after a relatively short (150 km.) leg that kicks off in Marostica, the town of “human chess matches”. Then it's time for the tapponi, the queen stages over the Dolomites, with the Giro also finding back the legendary Stelvio (Cima Coppi of the event, at an altitude of 2.758m asl) for the first time since 1993.

After some flat riding on the planes of Lombardy, and some going up and down the not-too-difficult hills of Fausto Coppi area, the peloton hits the sea of the Ligurian coast, with the leg taking the peloton to the seaside resort of Varazze, the town that played host to a tricky stage of the 2002 edition, when Paolo Savoldelli got into a winning breakaway that was probably fundamental in determining the race outcome.

But this time it’s the stages afterwards that are likely to tell us the name of the overall winner. First the uphill finish at Col di Tenda, then the Turin ITT, but even more the awful penultimate stage, the real tappone, a 218-km. effort from Limone Piemonte to Sestriére town. Sestriére is the place many of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games skiing competitions are set to take place. And, needless to say, this stage is the best way to pay tribute (and give exposure) to that event. But if Hermann Maier, Bode Miller and their colleagues will go downhill come 2006, the Corsa Rosa crew is going to be involved in some uphill riding. Better, a lot of uphill riding, with the road going uphill for a total of 60 km. (!) or so; and besides the third mountain top finish, those still in the race also have to climb the gruelling Colle delle Finestre, part of which is still stranger to the word “asphalt”.

The closing leg is the usual ride into Milan, giving all fastmen left a last chance to raise their hands across the line. But the start town is unusual: it's Albese con Cassano, home to poor Fabio Casartelli, the teammate of Lance Armstrong at Motorola who fell victim of a tragic accident on the Portet d'Aspet descent of the Tour de France 1995. And in the tenth anniversary of this tragedy, this surely was no random choice. But certainly a welcomed one.

The next Giro d’Italia is not just the first one of the “Angelo Zomegnan era”, but also the first under the new UCI Pro Tour rules. Rules that make participation into all top events compulsory for all 19 teams getting the Pro Tour license. Rules that are hopefully drawing a better, world-class field to a race that, in its most recent editions, was sometimes labeled as a kind of "Italian Stage Race Championship". Top Spanish teams such as Euskaltel-Euskadi, Illes Balears, Liberty Seguros and Saunier Duval are going to make their way (either back or for the first time) to the Giro, and also squads like T-Mobile and Discovery Channel will be at the start line. Neither Lance Armstrong nor Jan Ullrich should attend the event, but the likes of Damiano Cunego, Paolo Bettini and Erik Zabel, the top 3 riders in the current UCI ranking, as well as the world’s best sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, (deposed) Lion King Mario Cipolini, and past winners such as Gibo Simoni and Stefano Garzelli, sure will.

But it’s time to let the maps and numbers do the talk now. So here’s the race map and the full stage list of the 88th Tour of Italy. And much more numbers and features (main difficulties, rider comments etc.) will follow.

Map Courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport. Click for larger image.

88th Giro d'Italia (May 07-29, 2005): Stages

Prologue - Saturday, May 07:
Reggio Calabria ITT (1.15 Km.)

Stage 1 - Sunday, May 08:
Reggio Calabria - Tropea, 208 Km.

Stage 2 - Monday, May 09:
Catanzaro Lido-Santa Maria del Cedro, 177 Km.

Stage 3 - Tuesday, May 10:
Diamante-Giffoni Valle Piana, 210 Km.

Stage 4 - Wednesday, May 11:
Giffoni Valle Piana-Frosinone, 197 Km.

Stage 5 - Thursday, May 12:
Celano-L'Aquila, 215 Km.

Stage 6 - Friday, May 13:
Viterbo-Marina di Grosseto, 154 Km.

Stage 7 - Saturday, May 14:
Grosseto-Pistoia, 205 Km.

Stage 8 - Sunday, May 15:
Lamporecchio-Firenze (ITT), 41.5 km.

Stage 9 - Monday, May 16:
Firenze-Ravenna, 139 Km.

Tuesday, May 17 - Rest Day

Stage 10 - Wednesday, May 18:
Ravenna-Rossano Veneto, 212 Km.

Stage 11 - Thursday, May 19:
Marostica-Zoldo Alto, 150 Km.

Stage 12 - Friday, May 20:
Alleghe-Rovereto, 178 Km.

Stage 13 - Saturday, May 21:
Mezzocorona-Ortisei, 217 Km.

Stage 14 - Sunday, May 22:
Egna-Livigno, 210 Km.

Stage 15 - Monday, May 23:
Livigno-Lissone, 207 Km.

Tuesday, May 24: - Rest Day

Stage 16 - Wednesday, May 25:
Lissone-Varazze, 207 Km.

Stage 17 - Thursday, May 26:
Varazze-Limone Piemonte, 194 Km.

Stage 18 - Friday, May 27:
Chieri-Torino (ITT), 31 Km.

Stage 19 - Saturday, May 28:
Savigliano-Sestriere, 190 Km.

Stage 20 - Sunday, May 29:
Albese con Cassano-Milano, 121 Km.

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