The 2016 Giro d’Italia will start in the Netherlands on Friday, May 6, with a short individual time trial before the peloton gets on the road for the rest of the 21 total stages, culminating in the Italian city of Turin on May 29.
Often regarded as the greatest of the Grand Tours by cycling purists, the 99th edition of the Giro will be a tactical one, featuring three total individual time trials and just three stages in the high mountains.
Riders won't climb the dreaded Passo Mortirolo in 2016, with organisers likely saving one of the greatest climbs in the sport of cycling for next year’s anniversary edition. But the Giro’s reputation as the toughest of the Grand Tours should once again be confirmed, with two of the high-mountain stages ridden in the final three days.
Here’s a look at the full dates for every Giro 2016 stage, as well as a preview of some of the key stages:
|1||6 May||Apeldoorn||9.8 km (6 mi)||TT|
|2||7 May||Arnhem – Nijmegen||190 km (118 mi)||Flat|
|3||8 May||Nijmegen – Arnhem||189 km (117 mi)||Flat|
|9 May||Rest Day|
|4||10 May||Catanzaro – Praia a Mare||191 km (119 mi)||Mountain|
|5||11 May||Praia a Mare - Benevento||233 km (145 mi)||Hill|
|6||12 May||Ponte – Roccaraso||157 km (98 mi)||Mountain|
|7||13 May||Sulmona - Foligno||211 km (131 mi)||Hill|
|8||14 May||Foligno – Arezzo||186 km (116 mi)||Mountain|
|9||15 May||Radda in Chianti - Greve in Chianti||40.5 km (25 mi)||TT|
|16 May||Rest Day|
|10||17 May||Campi Bisenzio – Sestola||219 km (136 mi)||Mountain|
|11||18 May||Modena – Asolo||227 km (141 mi)||Mountain|
|12||19 May||Noale - Bibione||182 km (113 mi)||Flat|
|13||20 May||Palmanova – Cividale del Friuli||170 km (106 mi)||Mountain|
|14||21 May||Alpago (Farra) – Corvara (Alta Badia)||210 km (130 mi)||High Mountain|
|15||22 May||Castelrotto/Kastelruth – Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm||10.8 km (7 mi)||TT (Mountain)|
|23 May||Rest Day|
|16||24 May||Bressanone/Brixen – Andalo||132 km (82 mi)||Mountain|
|17||25 May||Molveno – Cassano d'Adda||196 km (122 mi)||Flat|
|18||26 May||Muggio – Pinerolo||240 km (149 mi)||Mountain|
|19||27 May||Pinerolo – Risoul||162 km (100 mi)||High Mountain|
|20||28 May||Guillestre – Sant'Anna di Vinadio||134 km (83 mi)||High Mountain|
|21||29 May||Cuneo – Torino||163 km (101 mi)||Flat|
To access the full route map, visit Cyclingnews.com. Eurosport will provide full coverage of this year’s Giro for European viewers, while beIN Sports will do the same in the U.S.
Of the three Grand Tours—the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana—the Giro usually adheres most to the core principles of stage-racing, and the 2016 edition is no different. The schedule is what you’d expect from a Grand Tour, beginning with a short time trial and featuring plenty of opportunities for the attack-minded riders.
While there are only three stages in the high mountains, the peloton will spend a lot of time out of the saddle, with the roads of Calabria and Tuscany being anything but flat. The sprinters will have just five flat stages to work with.
Unlike previous years, there will be no team time trial, and instead, the riders will have to deal with a climbing time trial, one of the key stages of this year’s Giro.
Last year’s champion, Alberto Contador, will not be participating, as he’s focused on this year’s Tour de France, according to Tinkoff-Saxo team boss Oleg Tinkov (h/t Cycling News).
In his absence, former winner Vincenzo Nibali is the favourite. The Italian hasn’t looked great in recent weeks, however, and he revealed he wasted a lot of energy during the recent Liege-Bastogne-Liege race, per Cyclings News’ Barry Ryan.
He also talked about his main rivals:
We’ll try to improve day by day: There are still 10 days to recover my energy before the Giro. There are a lot of rivals. Today I could see some of them – [Ilnur] Zakarin is going very well, so he could be a surprise at the Giro. Then there’s [Mikel] Landa who was in good condition in Trentino, and [Alejandro] Valverde is very strong.
In recent years at the Tour and the Vuelta, he’s always been a tough nut to crack, and I expect a very competitive Valverde at the Giro.
Mikel Landa made the podium last year and will be eyeing the pink jersey in 2016. Meanwhile, Alejandro Valverde has become an excellent stage-racer in recent years, and he’ll also be vying for the top spot.
Global Cycling Network put together an excellent preview, including a list of riders to keep an eye on:
Few teams have as much experience in Grand Tour racing as Astana do, and Nibali’s ability to survive in the high mountains and hold his own in time trials should serve him well. Pure climbers like Rigoberto Uran and Esteban Chaves usually do well in the Giro, but this year’s edition places a higher focus on time trials.
That makes Tom Dumoulin another rider to keep an eye on. The Dutchman surprised everyone by surviving comfortably during the Vuelta’s high-mountain stages, but those tend to be less demanding than the ones in Italy—not counting the Angliru, which wasn’t on the schedule last year.
Dumoulin is a likely candidate for the pink jersey after Stage 1, and Stage 9—another time trial—will make it clear which climbers can limit the damage and keep pace with the Grand Tour specialists. The climb against the clock in Stage 15 will play a factor, but this year's key stages should be the last two before the final stage to Turin.
There's a chance the final order will be set by Stage 18, but the climb to Risoul will see a lot of riders try their luck, particularly if the differences at the top of the standings are limited. Just one day later, the peloton will spend most of the day climbing, and the heavy legs from the ride to Risoul will be a factor.
The Giro is famous for its poor weather conditions, which often rear their head this early in the season, and a batch of snow or some freezing temperatures in the high mountains would only make the tactical battle that much harder. Riders can't afford to wait for their chances and key stages too long, as things can change in the blink of an eye.