Yesterday, the route of the 101st Giro de Italia was unveiled. The first Grand Tour of 2018 starts in Jerusalem on Friday 4 May. After spending three days in Israel, the Giro peloton will head to Sicily for stages four, five and six. Afterwards the riders will set foot on the Italian mainland and will cross that from south to north. On Sunday 27 May the Giro ends with a stage in the capital Rome.
The number of time trial kilometres is limited to 9.7 kilometres on day one and 34.5 kilometres in the sixteenth stage. There are not many opportunities for sprinters, with only seven stages that are marked as flat. The climbers will be enthusiastic about the course as there are eight summit finishes, among other on the Etna and Zoncolan.
Lotto Soudal sports director Bart Leysen shares his first impressions of the route of the upcoming Giro.
Bart Leysen: “The riders have a hard and exhausting Giro ahead of them. I think there will be maximum five sprints. There are two sprint stages in Israel and we can also expect a sprint at the end of the first stage on the Italian mainland. The twelfth stage to Imola is also a flat stage, but with less than fifteen kilometres to go the riders face a climb that will very likely be too tough for sprinters. A day later the sprinters have more chance of battling for victory. And then they will have to wait until the last stage.”
“I don’t think it will be a walk in the park for one rider and his team to control the race for three weeks. The positions on GC will switch several times. The course in Sicily is tough and there are a lot of narrow roads. Those three stages will already influence the GC. Due to the nature of the Giro course it could be fatal for a GC rider to wear pink early in the race and that creates opportunities for breakaway riders. Although those guys will need to climb well if they want to claim a stage win. You can compare the Giro to the Vuelta as there are hardly any flat stages.”
“The first pink jersey will be at stake in a time trial and that’s why we might take Victor Campenaerts to the Giro. The first rider who claims the pink jersey will probably wear it three days, until the first stage in Sicily. Of course we will also need to have a sprinter in our team and riders who can climb and aren’t afraid to attack. Hopefully we can continue the success we had in the past Vuelta.”