Following editions in 2002 and 2010, the 2016 Giro d’Italia leaves from the Netherlands. The race begins in Apeldoorn with a 9.8 kilometres ITT in stage 1, while stage 2 offers a 190 kilometres course leading from Arnhem to Nijmegen. Despite some modest climbs in the last 50 kilometres this one should be for the sprinters. Same story in stage 3, when the riders go from Nijmegen to Arnhem. Not the same route in reverse, this one leads to the Achterhoek, home soil of Dutch climber Robert Gesink.
After a rest day/transfer to the south of Italy, stage 4 brings a chance for sprinters with an apetite for the hills as the finale comes with a series of nasty ramps. In stage 5 the sprinters face a last kilometre at 3.4%, while the first mountains loom in stage 6 when the riders traverse the Apennines to finish in Roccaraso after a 20 kilometres closing climb.
Stage 7 should be for the sprinters and stage 8 is tailor made for good descenders with puncheurs legs. In stage 9 a time trialist like Tom Dumoulin could be in business (again, after winning stage 1) as the ITT brings a hilly 40.4 kilometres course through the Chianti region. If the Dutchman is back to his Vuelta 2015 form he is definitely a GC contender to watch. In fact, 2015 winner Alberto Contador thinks Dumoulin is the big favourite in Italy.
The day after the rest day sees stage 10 with a hilly course and a demanding finale with two tough climbs and a top-finish in Sestola. The race to Asolo stage 11 brings an interesting finale with a short (cobbled) climb with 5 kilometres remaining, while stage 12 should be for the sprinters as the course is flat from start to finish.
All climbers will be desperate to attack ‘Friday the 13th stage’. Close to the Slovenian border steep and narrow climbs lay waiting, two of them in the last 40 kilometres. The climbing party continues in stage 14 as the Dolomites treat the climbers to a barrage of six peaks and then the finish seems to be downhill. No sir/madam, the finale offers the short and steep Muro del Gatto before the dying kilometrs are slightly uphill.
Still, the climbing is not over just yet. Stage 15 is a mountain ITT in 10.8 kilometres. After a false flat 1.8 kilometres, the road starts twisting and turning at over 8% until the last kilometre ‘flattens out’ to 6.8%.
The third week opens with stage 16 on a course that should fancy escapees. A tough climb halfway and a demanding finale, that will brings chances for a great descender like Nibali to put time into his GC opponents. Odds are the 17th stage brings great joy to one of the fast men in the pack, while stage 18 is, at 240 kilometres, the longest stage in the 2016 road book. A nasty climb with steepest sectors at 20% is likely to stir up the finale.
The last two mountain stages are in the Alps, mainly on the French side of the border. Stage 19 goes from Pinerolo to Risoul and to get there riders are to crest Col Agnel. At an elevation of 2,744 metres the Agnel is the highest point in the 2016 Giro, so the rider who gets there first wins the Cima Coppi.
Stage 20 leads to Sant’Anna di Vinadio and offers three peaks of over 2,000 metres and an interesting finale. The 2016 Giro closes with the 21st stage, starting in Cuneo and most probably culminating in a bunch sprint in Turin.
All in all, the 2016 Giro d’Italia offers a challenging route of 3,400 kilometres.
Giro d’Italia 2016: Height profiles, route maps, and more
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