The route of the 41st Giro Ciclistico d’Italia (“Baby Giro”), scheduled from Thursday 7th to Saturday 16th June 2018, has been officially unveiled. The most prestigious cycle race for the Under 23 category in Italy was presented on Monday 19th February, in Rome.
The 2018 edition includes two stages more than in 2017 – nine days of competition, after the opening individual prologue – and with its 1,191 kilometers of race it will cross 4 Italian regions: Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Trentino and Veneto.
Highlights of the historic and culturally rich route include a nod to the centenary of the end of the Great War (1918) with a visit to the Ossuary at Pasubio in Pian delle Fugazze, and a passage through the Prosecco hills.
Stages – one by one
The ten stages announced today reveal a race which is firmly aimed at the climbers, including a strade bianche summit finish and an uphill time-trial with a twist.
Prologue – Forlì, 4.7km. A pan-flat aperitif to the race round the beautiful Emilia-Romagna town of Forli. The town square will be a perfect setting for the ceremonial start of the week’s racing.
St 1 – Riccione to Forli, 137.7km. A largely flat stage from Riccione, near the Adriatic coast, back up to the location of the previous day’s prologue, with two third category climbs in the last 40km. The sprinters should decide the day’s result if the nervous bunch avoids a repeat of 2017’s crash-hit first stage. Stage 3 of the 2017 race ended in Forli (image below) where Pavel Sivakov took the pink jersey.
St 2 – Nonantola to Sestola, 128.3km. An early rendez-vous for the GC contenders as the race heads towards the ski-station at Sestola. At only 1020m, however, the finish isn’t particularly severe, but it comes after a category 2 and 3 climb stacked up in the final 50km. If the sprinters enjoyed stage one, expect the maglia rosa to change hands tonight.
St 3 – Rio Saliceto to Azzano San Paolo/Orio al Serio, 160.8km. A mixed day out for tired legs after the summit finish and long transfer, Stage 3 is a the longest of the race at just over 160km, but is a totally flat transitional stage heading back north towards the furthest outskirts of Milan. A sprinter’s day.
St 4 – Mornico al Serio to Passo Maniva, 127.9km. A “medium” mountain stage with a summit finish at Passo Maniva, today’s route will give some shape to the GC that will last for the rest of the week. The finish is at 1744m above sea level, and the route features a crossing of the Tre Termini pass (701m asl) 60km from the line.
St 5 – Darfo Boario Terme – Folgarida 125.6km. Mountains and dirt roads. A third category climb will quicken the pulse before the road turns up to the Passo del Tonale (1883m asl), which comes 38km from the line. The riders will enjoy a descent to Dimaro before climbing as high again, this time up a strade bianche, to the finish at Folgarida (1854m).
St 6 – Dimaro to Pergine Valsugana, 121.7km. Two category 3 climbs don’t look too bad on paper, but a week into the race it would be easy to have a bad day. The organisers describe this as a ‘nervous’ stage where the two climbs come in the last 50km. A day for a breakaway to succeed.
St 7 – Schio to Pian Delle Fugazze, 135.4km. The three hills of the day count down from category 3 to 1, with the third being the climb to the finish at Pian Delle Fugazze. Don’t think about tomorrow though, as there’s worse to come…
St 8 – Levico Terme to Asiago, 152km. The riders will have over 1000km in their legs by the time they hit the Hors Categorie climb in the middle of the stage. The 24km monster to Monte Grappa is a modest 5.3% average gradient, but the word “average” bears a lot of weight here as there are several plateaux and descents mid-climb. The final 90km of today’s stage could be very similar to stage 20 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia, which also crossed the Monte Grappa and finished in Asiago.
St 9a – Conegliano Veneto – Valdobbiadene, 75.6km. Nothing to look forward to here other than a day of split stage hell to end the 9 days of racing. The category 3 and 2 climbs will be hated by everyone other than the stage winner!
St 9b – ITT – Ca’ del Poggio, 21km. Walking the tightrope of brilliance and insanity, the race is to apply for permission to start the final 20 GC riders at intervals equal to their GC standing. The route for the 21km uphill time trial features two stretches where the slope hits 10-12% (Manzana and Confin) and the last 800 meters that reach 18% on the Wall of Ca ‘del Poggio, the symbolic climb of the Prosecco Hills.
No formal announcement has yet been made of which teams will contest the race. However, the presence of Ivan Basso at the race launch suggests that his Polartec-Kometa squad is likely to be on the list. Flavio Zappi has also stated on social media that his Zappi Racing squad has been invited. More to follow on the squadre when official announcements are made by the race organisers.