2018 Giro d’Italia Route includes eight summit finishes
Eight summit finishes and 44 kms of time trialling, Chris Froome prepares to do battle with Fabio Aru and last year's winner Tom Dumoulin
The 21 stages start in Jerusalem with a short 9.7 km ITT and two relatively flat stages before the race heads over to Island of Sicily.
Stage 6 on Island of Sicily will culminate with a new ascent of Mount Etna, climbing up to the 1,736-metre-high finish via a new road from the south via Ragalina. The 14.1km climb includes a four-kilometre section at eight per cent and should cause some contenders some problems early on in the race.
After the peloton crosses the Straight of Messina by ferry, the race heads north with another mountain finish to Montevergine do Mercogliano on stage 8.
The second weekend ends with the climb up to Campo Imperatore in the shadows of the mighty Gran Sasso mountain, the late Marco Pantani took victory there 19 years ago.
Stage 10 and 11 are medium mountain stages, stage 11 finishes in the hilltop village of Osimo is near the home of the late Michele Scarponi and finishes with a short but very steep climb.
Two fairly flat stages 12 and 13 lead the peloton up the Adriatic coast, the Giro will commemorate one hundred years since the end of World War I, with a stage between Ferrara and Nervesa della Battaglia on stage 13.
The flat stages will give riders a rest before reaching the brutal stage 14. This weekend sees the return of a high mountains with a stage on Saturday May 19th finishing up the legendary climb of Monte Zoncolan. First used in 2003, won by Simoni and used on five occasions, the last being in 2014 where Michael Rogers took victory.
Stage 15 features four significant climbs which is likely to see a breakaway or an attack on the Maglia Rosa, by rivals looking to make up any time before the the final week.
The individual time trial after the final rest day is 34.5 kms between Trento and Rovereto and follows the valley roads, which will allow contenders like Dumoulin or Froome to gain time on any rivals. Any rivals will need to take the race to them in the mountains before this which could result in some very animated racing in the second week ahea dof the final onslaught.
Stage 17 has been coined the "wine stage" with a finish in Iseo in the heart of the Franciacorta sparkling wine region, a rare chance for any remaining sprinters to win a stage in the race.
Stage 18 takes the peloton east into the Alps, with the finish up to Prato Nevoso, a 13.9 km climb at an average of 7% where Pavel Tonkov and Stefano Garzelli took the stage victory in 1996 and 2000 respectively. Both Tonkov and Garzelli went on to win those editions of the Giro d'Italia.
Stage 19 is Queen stage of next year's Giro d'Italia. It includes four big climbs, the main attraction will be the steep, arduous and half unpaved climb of the Colle delle Finestre, which translated means "Climb of Windows" which is the Cima Coppi – the highest climb of the race. The steep wooded climb is an average of at least 10%, which on some of the steep hairpin bends gives glimpses of the surrounding mountains, hence it's name. With 8 kms to go the trees fade away, as so does the tarmac, and road turns into a difficult gravel track with rocks the size of your fist!
It will be fourth time since 2005 that the Colle Delle Finestre has been used, again in 2011 and 2015, when Mikel Landa won that stage.
It is followed by an easier road to Sestriere and then the 7.2km Jafferau climb to Bardonecchia. Mauro Santambrogio took victory here in 2013 before, being caught for doping, with Nibali second, who went on to win the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
The mountain stages end on the final Saturday, with the 214 km stage to the mountain top finish up the Cervinia. The stage includes the 16km Col Tsecure and the 16km Col de Saint-Pantaleon, which both include steep sections at altitude near the summit.
Fabio Aru won in Cervinia in 2015 and toppled Mikel Landa as the Astana team leader. The two amoungst others will battle again on the 19km climb that will surely confirm the overall winner of the race.
The riders face a final transfer to Rome on the final Sunday for 10 laps of a 11km circuit around the capital, showcasing the beauty of ancient Rome, around the Coliseum and finishing on the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
The 2018 finish will be more of a celebratory stage and a final chance for any sprinters still left in the race to take a stage win.
Could Chris Froome win his first-ever Giro d'Italia and complete his Grand Tour hat trick and set up his Giro-Tour double, or will Aru or Dumoulin take victory?
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