-Big Start in Lazio, 3 Stages in the region, including a ITT in Rome
-Cima Coppi: Passo di Pennes/Penserjoch (2212m)
-Queen Stage: Ponte di Legno - San Martino/Reinswald (Stage 17)
-Key Climbs: Passo Lanciano (Stage 8), Pila (Stage 15), Passo del Mortirolo and Monte Padrio (Stage 16), Passo Giovo/Jaufenpass and Passo di Pennes/Penserjoch (Stage 17), Passo delle Fittanze (Stage 20)
-Time Trial: 71,88 kms
-The race visits every Italian region with the exception of Liguria, Calabria, Sardegna and Sicilia
The first week is raced in the center and south of Italy and is relatively easy with several opportunities for sprinters and only a couple of stages for GC riders to test their legs. The second week sees an increase in difficulty with stages suited for breakaways a very Important ITT and a hard mountain stage right at the end. The third week is absolute insanity with 3 crazy high mountain stages and a ITT to end it all.
The Giro kicks off with a short ITT through the historical part of Rome, providing a stunning and majestic scenario to the start of a GT. Differences should be minor and the TT specialist have an opportunity to wear the Pink Jersey
Rolling stage. This stage goes through the north of Lazio, and has quite a bit of up and down terrain, albeit rarely steep. Close to the finishing line, there's a bit of a trap with a short but with relatively steep parts (9% max), that ends at around 1200m to the finish. Thia might allow other type of riders to have an opportunity to discuss the stage than solely sprinters
The Giro enters in Campania with a stage that is mostly flat. However in the last part, there's a sucession of 2 climbs that might pose a problem to some sprinters. The likeliest scenario is a reduced sprint finish
The first harder stage. Very hilly throughtout the day, followed by the final sequence of the long climb of Monte Terminio and the steep climb of Colle Molella, that tops inside the last 3kms. This stage should create the first selection of riders in the GC
The Giro finally arrives at the High Mountains. The stage is up and down for the most part of the day, with the steep climb to Chieti as the hardest hill. But this stage is all about the last climb of Passo Lanciano, the smallest of Blockhaus little siblings, with 15kms at around 8% of average, which will for sure show who are the best riders in the race
The first week ends with a traditional Tirreno-Adriatico type of stage in the hills of Marche, with a sucession of several short and explosive climbs, that for sure will break the race apart way before arriving at the final climb to Macerata. It's a dangerous day for the GC riders, particularly for the ones who aren't as explosive and are less confortable with a terrain similar to the one it can be found in the Ardennes Classics
A short and intense stage, that pretty much every type of rider can win. There are very few flat sections, with a lot of up and down first with longer and gentler climbs, but after the descent of Monte Peglia there's a sequence of short steep climbs that lead into the final 12kms of flat for the finish in Marsciano. Looks like a perfect stage for a breakaway
A very important day for the GC. This time trial has a long flat section, perfect for the specialists, with 2 Steep climbs at the end, first to Casuccia and then to the finish in Montepulciano. Climbers will try to limit their losses in a TT that should see them bleed a lot of time for the All Arounders
A very dangerous and really hard medium mountain stage through the gold mine that are the Appeninnes, borderline to high mountain, with climbs that i believe were never raced in the Giro. It has an almost perfect sequence of climbs, which could allow long range attacks and ambushes. The climbs are hard, and Passo del Cirone is harder than the average might suggest with some false flat and a couple of short descents that bring down the average
The 2nd weekend ends with a hard mountain stage. The first part is rolling with a couple of easy climbs, to help sort out the predictable breakaway fight. After leaving the Piemonte plains, the riders enter the mountainous little Valle d'Aosta, first facing the long climb of Col Saint-Panthaleon, which will soften the legs for the final climb up to the Pila ski resort, the toughest single MTF in this Giro
The insane 3rd week starts with a bang with this intimidating stage. After the start the already have to face first the Passo della Presolana, followed by the Croce di Salvén, which they should help form the break of the day. After an easier intermediate part of the stage, where the riders will pass on the finishing line in Aprica for a first time, they'll have to face the fearsome combo of Passo del Mortirolo from the Mazzo di Valtellina side (no introduction needed) and a not less impressive neighbour, Monte Padrio, with a section of 9kms over 9% that has several places that reach way over 10% (17% max i think). After its top, there's a fast descent into Aprica for the finish
The Queen stage. This is the type of stage that can rival that insane Gardeccia stage back in 2011, in the best years of Zomegnan aka the Mad One, and will surely bring tears to the sprinters that haven't (yet xD) dropped out of the race. It starts with climbing, facing first the famous Passo del Tonale, and after a section in the valley they'll face the steep Passo Castrin/Hohfmadjoch, to add more fatigue. After a long descent and an easier part of the stage the riders will have to face the monstruous final sequence of climbs, first climbing the long and steady Passo Giovo/Jaufenpass, immediately followed by the long and steep Passo di Pennes/Penserjoch, which is also the Cima Coppi. There's now a long descent that will lead into the final climb to the small ski station of San Martino/Reinswald. The last 2kms average above 10%. Good Luck!
A hard stage that follows two very hard stages, which might be underestimated by some, but there are more than enough hard climbs that, combined with the fatigue carried on from the last 2 stages, we might see some riders having a really bad day and dropping out of contention. There's also the oportunity for ambushes, and also for GC fight. Passo del Pura and Forcella di Monte Rest might not be the longest of climbs but they are certainly steep. Right at the end of the stage there's a little trap, the Forcella Claupa, a short but explosive climb that, if the previous ones didn't create any gaps, it could be used by some riders to try to gain a couple of seconds
The eye of the storm. This is the single easiest stage of the race and will serve pretty much as a rest day for the GC riders. The sprinters who managed to survive until here, will have a last opportunity to try to win it, but with so much fatigue in the peloton, there's also a chance for some adventurous breakaway riders to manage to hold off an hungry yet sluggish peloton and fight for a famous win between them
The last mountain stage and another monster one at that. It is the last chance for climbers to attack and it provides a lot of terrain for them to try something and fight until the end. After a flat initial section, the first have to face Passo Sommo, climb from the easier east side, and later followed by the irregular climb of Passo di San Valentino, with several sections above 10%. After a long descent, the riders have to climb the fearsome Passo delle Fittanze, one of the hardest climbs in this Giro and one that has been blatantly ignored by the Giro organizers (Giovo and Pennes could also be included). Part of this climb was used in the Giro del Trentino years ago. It has a maximum of 20% (i think lol). Afterwards, they still have to face a Sestriere type of Climb, the upper part of Passo del Branchetto (which is a much longer climb, But this stage is already really hard as it is lol), and then a short fast descent that brings the riders into the Rifugio San Giorgio Nordic Ski Center
The Giro ends with an ITT, hopefully with the GC still up to grabs, so it can give up a lot of emotions in the very final day of racing. It ends in the stunning Piazza del Duomo, a very fitting place to crown a very deserving rider as the winner of this race
-Big Start in Bretagne, 3 stages in the reigion
-Queen Stage: Le Bourg d'Oisans - Pralognan-la-Vanoise (Stage 17)
-Key Climbs: Col d'Arnosteguy (Stage 9), Cime de Coume-Mourère (Stage 11), Mont Ventoux (Stage 15), Col de la Madeleine and Col de la Loze (Stage 17), Col de la Biche and Col du Grand Colombier (Stage 19), Col de l'Oellion (Stage 20)
-TIme Trial: 58,76 kms
-Team Time Trial: 20,65 kms
-The race goes into Spanish territory for a few kms in the Stage 9
The Tour starts in Bretagne and goes further south towards the Pyrennes. The first week offers several opportunities for the sprinters and for puncheurs, a brief incursion into the Volcanic region of Auvergne, and a final mountain stage in the Pays Basque. The second week goes east, through the south of France, known to be traditionally windy, visting the eastern Pyrenees, the Cévennes mountain range in the Massif Central and ending in Provence. The third week is definitely the hardest with 3 mountain stages and a very hard ITT.
A long stage through the rugged terrain of Bretagne, with a lot of up and down. It should be however a stage for a sprinter, but to keep things a bit more interesting there's a small climb inside the last km, around 500m at 5/6%
A long, hilly and possibly windy stage through some of the roads used by the french semi-classic Tour du Finistère. It's up and down all day long with some climbs with steep gradients, such as Côte de Kaliforn and Côte de la Chapelle Notre Dame. GC riders who aren't confortable with terrain and roads similar to the ones found in the Arbennes classics will have a tough day. On the other hand, puncheurs will love this
Another long stage, the 4th consecutive over 210 kms, going into the Limousin region and thus having hilly sections. It's slightly easier than Stage 3, however with a more challenging final sequence of climbs. The Côte de Blessac is remarkably similar to the much more famous Mur-de-Bretagne, with a steep beginning and then flatenning out at the top; Côte des Buiges has some steep gradients towards the top, above 10%. In short, it's a stage perfect for puncheurs
A medium mountain stage, through the beautiful region of Auvergne, which should make the real first selection of riders in the GC. The second half of this stage has respectable sequence of climbs, which Col de Guéry, Col de la Croix-Morand, Col de la Croix Saint-Robert and ending with a MTF at La Banne d'Ordanche
A stage that starts harder and it gets progressively easy as the day goes by. The outcome is uncertain; It might be for a breakway, unless there are teams willing and capable of controlling a break in the first half of the stage, through the long climb of Col de la Geneste and the hilly terrain that follows it.
The stage is raced almost entirey in the french Pays Basque, briefly entering into Navarra in Spain to climb the Puerto de Otxondo and the Puerto de Ispegui/Col d'Ispeguy, where at the top they return back into France, towards Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and thus into the footsteps of one of the secret climbs of the Pyerenees, Col d'Arnosteguy. It has a really steep first half, with entire kms way above 10%, before becoming more irregular and flattening out towards the top. It will be the first real test for the GC riders.
The second week starts with a pan flat TT, that will favour the Time Trialists and the All Arounders, and where the lightweight climbers will certainly lose a good amount of time. Very important day for the GC
A Mountain stage through the forgotten region of Cerdanya, in the Eastern Pyrennes. They'll have to face first the long climbs of Col de Jau and Col de la Llose, and then finishing at the new climb of Cime de Coume-Mourère, over 2200m, and right at the border with Catalunya, Spain. It's the highest MTF in this Tour, and the second highest point in the entire race.
A flat stage with a twist, through a region known to be windy. The stage follows the coast, and easy quite easy throughout the day. However in the last kms there is a trap in the form of the steep climb of Mont Saint-Clair, which is clearly hard enough to put the sprinters in a lot of difficulty. It can certainly be an entertaining final, particularly if there are also crosswinds.
A short, intense and very hard medium mountain stage deep into the Cévennes mountain range, in the southern part of the Massif Central. The riders will have to face 5 categorized climbs, including the hardest climb in the Massif Central, Col de la Lusette, and closer to the finishing line, the steep Col de Solpérière. There's a possibility for great racing, ambushes and CG fight
A long flat stage, the leaves the Cévennes and enters in the windy and exposed region of Camargue. Sprinters will be keen to fight for another stage win, while the GC riders have to be very attentive if the wind invites itself to the party.
The second week ends with short, but explosive stage in the mountains of Provence. The riders have to climb the legendary Mont Ventoux twice in little less than 120 kms. It's a very important one, that might be able to show us GC fight throughout the whole day, if the riders race in an offensive way. After the final descent of Mont Ventoux, there are still around 10kms of flat until the finishing line in Vaison-la-Romaine.
The third week starts with the last ITT of the Tour, around Grenoble. For most part of the time trial, the terrain is rolling, but in the last 2km they'll have to face the gruelling ultra steep climb up to the finishing line placed at the Bastille of Grenoble.
The Queen stage. It's an insane stage, one of the hardest ever raced in a Tour de France, throughout the Alps and passing through the well known climbs of Col du Glandon and Col de la Madeleine, the new colossus Col de la Loze and the final climb up to Pralognan-la-Vanoise, a small ski station, clearly overshadowed by its bigger neighbours that together form the Trois Vallées Ski domain, the biggest in the world.
A very hard mountain stage exclusively in the Jura mountains, starting in the Pays de Gex, very close to Genève, first facing the Col de la Faucille. After a long descent the riders have to climbs the north side of Col de Menthières, and then a long descent, that leads into the easier part of the stage towards the brutal last sequence of climbs, Col de la Biche, Col du Grand Colombier, with some really steep stretches, and Col du Clergeon. The finish comes after a downhill, interrupted briefly by a short but steep uncategorized climb, close to the finishing line in Rumilly
The longest stage of the Tour, this last important stage for the GC is somewhat different than usual, through the mountains around Saint-Etienne. It's the easiest of the 3rd week mountainous tryptic, however with so much fatigue, climbs such as Col de la Croix de Chaubouret, Col de l'Oellion and Col de Burdignes should be clearly enough to provide good racing, particularly because none of them intimidate the riders.