With eight mountaintop finishes, including a re-run of this year’s climb up the cruel slopes of the Zoncolan, the 2011 Giro looks to be pushing race director Angelo Zomegnan’s agenda of making a distinctive, innovative and above all difficult race.
Zomegnan’s stewardship of the Giro in recent years has forced the Tour de France organizers to up their game, and he’s devised a spectacular route for 2011 that touches on all parts of the country on the 150th anniversary of the country’s unification.
Starting with a 21.5km team time trial in Turin and ending in the shadow of Milan’s magnificent duomo cathedral, the race includes a stage in Reggio Emilia, birthplace of the Italian Tricolore flag, and a dirt-track finish at the top of the 18.5km, 9.2% climb of the Colle de Finestre. There’s also a rare trip to the tip of Italy’s boot, into Sicily. Race favorite Vincenzo Nibali will surely relish the double climb of the Etna volcano in this stage that starts in his home town, Messina. But his old team-mate, Roman Kreuziger, has already declared himself up for the challenge, and it looks like a characteristically explosive start to the grand tour season.
Too explosive for some? Cycling News is reporting that Team Sky’s Tour de France contenders will skip the Giro because it is too difficult. Straight-talking star Bradley Wiggins recently pointed to over-exertion in the Giro as one factor behind his disappointing performance in this year’s Tour.
Full stage profiles, videos and analysis on the official Giro site.