Giro d’Italia 2017 route: seven key stages which will decide the race

Iconic climbs, long time trials and a race for the maglia rosa which could go down to the wire

The 100th Giro d’Italia pays homage to some of its former winners, with a mountain-heavy final week – including a double ascent of the Stelvio on the same day the peloton tackles the Mortirolo – among the highlights of this year’s race, which starts on Friday (May 5).

A balanced parcours has been enough to tempt some of the biggest names to target the milestone Giro d’Italia, with organisers RCS Sport serving up an intriguing mix of stages, including a total of 67km of time trialling – with the second and final race of truth on the final day.

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Mountain tests include the brutal stage mentioned above, alongside summit finishes on Mount Etna and Blockhaus with the race starting in Sardinia, moving to Sicily and then covering the length of Italy before its Milan finale.

A balanced route, with a climb-heavy final week, awaits for the 2017 Giro d’Italia – the 100th edition of the race (pic – Sirotti)

For the sprinters, there will be a chance to wear the maglia rosa on stage one, but there is nothing for them in the final week, which could mean big names like Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) start the race before dropping out to ready themselves for the Tour.

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The fight for the general classification will run until the final rider finishes the time trial in Milan, however – the last time the Giro ended with a test against the clock, in 2012, the maglia rosa changed hands on the final day.

So what can we expect from the race, and where will the maglia rosa be won or lost? We’ve picked out the key stages, but first let’s take a closer look at that route…

Giro d’Italia 2017: route overview

Starting on Sardinia on Friday May 5, with three stages for the sprinters and rouleurs to get their teeth into and compete for a chance to wear the maglia rosa, the race then transfers to Sicily after the first rest day.

There, a summit finish on Mount Etna provides an early test for the climbers, while Messinah – birthplace of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali – hosts the finale of stage five.

The race then travels from the southern tip of Italy north to the Alps for a climb-laden final week, but not before the summit finish of Blockhaus on stage nine before the second rest day, and a hilly 39.2km individual time trial the day racing resumes.

Also included in the second week is a tricky, undulating test from Ponte a Ema, birthplace of Gino Bartali, to Bagno di Romagna while the race also pays homage to Fausto Coppi and Marco Pantani with its choice of stage hosts in week two.

Stage 15, from Valedengo to Bergamo features a similar finish to the 2016 Giro di Lombardia, before the final rest day in the city – birthplace of Felice Gimondi.

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After paying tribute to the race’s most iconic former winners, the final week will then be the one which crowns next year’s champion, with organisers hoping the weather gods are kind for stage 16, which tackles not only the Passo del Mortirolo but two sides of the Stelvio.

A climb-laden final week and two time trials are the stand-out features of the 2017 Giro d’Italia route

The Passo del Tonale is the highest point of stage 17, while the triple ascent of the Passo Pordoi, Passo Valparola and Passo Gardena will mean it will be a very select group competing for the stage win at Pontives on stage 18.

Further climbing tests include the Passo di Monte Croce Comelico and Monte Grappa on the next two stages, before the race concludes with a 28km time trial in Milan.

Key stages

Stage four – Cefalu to Mount Etna, 180km

By sticking the first mountain-top finish at the end of the fourth day, organisers RCS Sport have set a big challenge for the GC men – fail to prepare properly, and you could see your hopes of victory slip away before the race even reaches mainland Italy.

The start from Cefalu is flat, before the 31km ascent of the Portella Fermina Morta – a climb with an average gradient of five per cent and some sectors reaching as high as 13 per cent to test the legs before Etna.

Mount Etna is the race’s first summit finish, and arrives as early as stage four (pic: RCS Sport)

What goes up, must come down as they say and after a 25km-long descent there’s some lumpy stuff to negotiate before the final climb starts at Nicolosi.

The climb to Rifugio Sapienza covers more than 1300 vertical metres in 18km – a punishing average gradient of 7.2 per cent which is sure to catch some riders out if they’ve not managed to come out of the spring in top form.

Stage nine – Montenero di Bisaccia to Blockhaus

Alongside a summit finish immediately after the first rest day, there’s another the stage before the peloton enjoys its second day off.

This time it’s Blockhaus, concluding an otherwise largely flat stage along the Adriatic coast, with a climb of two halves.

The Passo Lanciano (Blockhaus) concludes stage nine, before the second rest day (pic: RCS Sport)

From Scafa to Roccamorice is a chance to test the legs, before a very short descent paves the way for the climb to properly begin.

From there it’s 13.2km to the summit of the Passo Lanciano, with an 8.5 per cent average gradient standing between the climbers and a place alongside Eddy Merckx on the list of riders to have won on the summit.

Stage ten – Foligno to Montefalco

It goes without saying the second of the two time trials, on the final day, could be make or break for those battling for the maglia rosa but the first time trial, on stage ten, is also an opportunity to open some gaps.

Arriving the day after the second rest day, the GC men will have had chance to recover from their efforts on Blockhaus, but the maglia rosa could well change hands again on stage ten.

An undulating 39.2km time trial, with an uphill finish, kicks off proceedings after the second rest day (pic: RCS Sport)

Racing from Foligno to Montefalco, the 39.2km course features two distinct hills – to San Marco at kilometre 15 and to Le Corone, where the second time check will be taken.

There’s also an uphill finish to Montefalco to contend with and, given the distance of the stage, there’s potential for some of the more out-and-out climbers to cede a good few minutes on the course to those more adept at riding their TT bikes, such as Tom Dumoulin.

Stage 11 – Firenze (Ponte a Ema) to Bagno di Romagna

While the biggest mountains are reserved for the final week, there is little let-up in the action in the second week either, with four Apennines climbs packed into stage 11 from Firenze to Bagno di Romagna.

Any over-exertion in the time trial could come back to haunt the riders with the climbing starting just 15.5km into the stage with the Passo della Consuma.

The Apennines take centre-stage for stage 11 (pic: RCS Sport)

The climb is 15.7km long with an average gradient of 5.7 per cent, and is then followed by the 16km Passo della Calla which shares a similar average gradient.

Next on the menu is the shorter Sella di Raggio ascent and a first entry into Bagno di Romagna before the riders head up the Monte Fumaiolo.

The Fumaiolo has a modest average gradient which belies its harder sections towards the summit, which could provide the perfect platform for an attack before the long descent to the finish line.

Stage 14 – Castallania to Oropa

Stage 14 is another slightly odd stage in that it’s almost completely pan-flat until the final climb, up Oropa.

But that climb is a true sting in the tail of this stage, with an erratic gradient along the 11.8km length – creating an average of seven per cent but sections – certainly halfway up – that are nearer to double that.

A pan-flat stage 14 concludes atop Oropa – as stings in the tail go, it’s a big one (pic: RCS Sport)

It’s a short stage too, at just 131km, so expect a rapid pace for the first 120km as the GC teams look to put pressure on their rivals and vie for good road position for the final climb.

Marco Pantani’s solo win on stage 15 of the 1999 race, before he was later removed from the race – while in the pink jersey – because of his excessive haematocrit level, came atop Oropa.

Stage 16 – Rovetta to Bormio

Once the final rest day is out of the way, the racing resumes with the undoubted jewel in the crown of this year’s race.

Given the adverse weather conditions that could strike atop the Stelvio, there may be changes to the route on the day but as it stands stage 16 features the Passo di Mortirolo and then two ascents, from different sides, of the iconic, hairpin-laden climb.

The Mortirolo, and two climbs of the Stelvio, arguably form the jewel in the crown of the 2017 race (pic: RCS Sport)

In tribute to 2011 champion Michele Scarponi, who died in a training accident last month, the Mortirolo has been nominated as the Cima Scarponi with King of the Mountains points worth double at the top.

The Cima Coppi, for the race’s highest point, will be awarded atop the Stelvio first time around, before the race heads across the Italian-Swiss border and climbs the Swiss side of the mountain.

The Mortirolo will be climbed from Edolo for only the second time in Giro d’Italia history, meaning a 17.2km ascent with an average gradient of 6.7 per cent and steep pitches which touch double figures as the summit approaches.

It’s not as steep as the more traditional Mazzo di Valtellina but that will be little consolation with the double climb of the Stelvio to follow.

From Bormio, the Stelvio is 21.5km long with an average gradient of 7.1 per cent and a nasty kick in the final couple of kilometres.

The wind will bite on the way back down, before the peloton tackle the stunning Umbrail Pass side of the mountain with hairpins aplenty.

From there there’s one more descent to come, back into Bormio, with the GC likely to have been given one hell of a shake-up.

Stage 18 – Moena to Ortisei/St.Ulrich

It would be easy to pick all six of the final stages as key stages, and with five back-to-back mountain stages before the time trial into Milan, the truth is they all will be pivotal.

The time differences are likely to open up in the mountains, but with the prospect of the time trial to come, the race for pink could go down to the wire.

Short and packed full of climbs, stage 18 showcases the best of the Dolomites (pic: RCS Sport)

Of the Dolomites stages, it’s stage 18 which looks the most intriguing, however.

At 137km long it’s a short stage but the climbs are packed in – with the Pordoi, Valparola, Gardena and Pinei all to be climbed – more than 4,000m elevation in all.

The stage then concludes with the climb up Pontives to Ortisei – it’s a day where the GC men should look to apply the pressure on their rivals from the off, with plenty of chances for a move to stick and time gaps to open up.

Team Sky have been caught out a couple of times now when the racing has been hard from the off, and if Geraint Thomas and/or Mikel Landa are still in contention overall on stage 18, they will need to be attentive from the flag.


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