If the route of the 2011 Tour de France looks like one for the climbers, just wait until you see what’s in store for next year’s Giro d’Italia.
The official Giro route won’t be revealed until Saturday, but leaks throughout the Italian media are suggesting a spectacular route tailor made for climbing specialists.
If the early reports are to be believed, summit finishes include the knee-busting steeps of Zoncolan, the high-altitude Austrian road of Grossglockner, a return to the dirt roads over Finestre and an arrival at Mount Etna, Europe’s highest volcano that just happens to be still active.
There’s also talk of a new climb at Monte Crostis, located near Monte Zoncolan in northern Italy with ramps as steep as 19 percent over 16km of climbing.
The 2011 Giro will be held from May 7-29, with a start in Torino and the finale back in Milan after finishing the past two editions in Rome and Verona, respectively.
The Giro will open with a 22km team time trial before heading south with a rumored return to the strade bianchi across Tuscany that made for a spectacular day of racing this year, with world champion Cadel Evans taking the win.
The route continues south, with a return to the smoldering slopes of Mount Etna on Italy’s Sicily before sweeping north toward the Dolomites, with Zoncolan and a possible climbing time trial (what else?) on the menu before a detour into Austria for the Grossglockner, Europe’s highest road at 2,572m.
The climber’s delight ends with a passage up the Finestre gravel roads above Sestriere, site of the epic final shootout in the 2005 Giro d’Italia won by Paolo Savoldelli.
Of course, that’s all just speculation by some imaginative and/or well-informed Italian journalists.
Giro officials always like to deliver a surprise or two, but from the sounds of things, this could be a Giro to top all Giros.