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2015 Giro d’Italia coming into focus

MILAN (VN) — The 2015 Giro d’Italia is coming into focus with less than a month until the route presentation. Organizer RCS Sport will unveil next year’s course October 6 at the Palazzo del Ghiaccio in Milan, where the race is due to finish after a trip south to Campania and north though the mountains via Madonna di Campiglio, Mortirolo, and the Colle delle Finestre.

Italy’s media is buzzing with rumors about the direction the Corsa Rosa will take from May 9 to May 31. Though some questions remain, most blanks have been filled in thanks to news leaks from towns that are planning to welcome the Giro.

The L’Adige newspaper reported last week that the Giro will visit its northwest region in the second week, on May 24, with a stage to Madonna di Campiglio. From Pinzolo, the road climbs 13.3 kilometers and never rises more than 7.4 percent.

The Madonna di Campiglio ski resort is perhaps better known for Marco Pantani and the 1999 Giro d’Italia. On the morning after he won the Madonna di Campiglio stage ahead of Massimo Codol and Laurent Jalabert, he was informed he had a high 52 percent hematocrit level that indicated EPO use and was told to go home.

The Madonna di Campiglio stage would end the second week and set the riders up for the mountainous third-week run to Milan. The first week kicks off in Liguria. RCS Sport already announced that the coastal region in Italy’s northwest will host the grand départ of the 98th edition, May 9-11.

The 2015 Giro starts with a team time trial on a seaside bike path to Sanremo and continues with two stages to Genova and La Spezia. From La Spezia the Corsa Rosa remains an unravelling mystery like Giuseppe Tornatore’s film, “The Best Offer.”

The Giro should head down Italy’s west coast with the Tyrrhenian Sea to its right in the first week. It is due to return to Tuscany after skipping the cycling-mad region in 2014 — with its first summit finish to Abetone on stage 4 — and continue south through the Lazio and Campania regions. It should make a U-turn and head north roughly along the east coast via Molise, Le Marche, and Emilia-Romagna.

The second week contains more questions than answers, but some points appear anchored, like a finish and start in Imola and the Madonna di Campiglio finish. RCS Sport will mark the World War I centenary with stages in Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, and possibly Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The highlights, besides the visit to Madonna di Campiglio, could include climbs to Monte Berico and Plan de Corones, and a time trial north of Venice to Jesolo.

The “Pink Course” travels west in the final week towards RCS Sport’s headquarters in Milan. It would be the first time since 2012 that the Giro has come home to Italy’s financial capital and would help celebrate the upcoming world fair and Expo Milano 2015.

To get to Milan, the cyclists could climb the Mortirolo and the Gavia Pass, with stage 16’s finish in Tirano, travel along Lake Como and into Switzerland to Vincenzo Nibali’s Lugano base, and head as far west as Sestriere. Like in 2011, the stage would run over the gravel roads of the Colle delle Finestre (2178m) to reach the Sestriere ski station near France.

The Sestriere stage, number 20, would also mark the 2015 Giro’s last summit finish and final general classification challenge. The following day, Sunday, the Giro should leave from Turin and finish in Milan.

All the blanks, however, will not be filled in until the same city hosts the Giro’s presentation October 6.

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