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Reports: Giro to include Zoncolan, Etna, and Cervinia climbs

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The 2018 Giro d’Italia, slated for May 4-27, will climb Etna, Zoncolan, and Cervinia, and will time trial through the Lagarina Valley before finishing in Rome.

Various Italian media outlets leaked stage information over the last few months while the curtains closed on the 2017 cycling season. Organizer RCS Sport, however, will only confirm the details when it presents the 2018 edition on November 29.

RCS Sport has announced that the Giro will begin with three stages in Israel — the first time any of the three grand tours have begun outside Europe. The rest was rest to fans’ imaginations.

Early on, rumors circulated that the race would return to its homeland via Sicily and conclude in Rome. The riders will have to conquer around eight summit finishes and a 40-kilometer time trial in the third week.

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia in 2017, the race’s 100th edition, thanks to his time trial win and his Alpine defense against Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).

The 2018 overall winner will have to strike a balance between the mountains and the stage 16 time trial. The distance is still uncertain, but it should travel from Trento to Rovereto and honor the Vallagarina wines.

Mount Etna, Montevergine di Mercogliano, Monte Zoncolan, Prato Nevoso, Jafferau, and Cervinia will host summit finishes. Newspapers have been confirming these and others with local organizers.

This year, the Giro visited Sicily’s famous Mount Etna. In 2018, the race should return. It will restart in Catania after its Jerusalem Big Start. After two stages, it will climb from the west to Etna’s observatory on stage 6.

The race will continue on the mainland in Calabria, making its way up from the toe of Italy’s famous boot. The eighth stage will climb to the Montevergine Sanctuary near Naples, reported Irpinia News. The Giro has visited the holy ground six times before, with Belgian Bart De Clercq winning the last time in 2011.

Gino Bartali helped save Jews during World War II by hiding falsified documents in the tubes of his bicycle. With the start in Israel, organizers want to remember his rides between Assisi and Florence over the famous white gravel roads. However, entering Florence could be too difficult during the week. The race may instead travel to Osimo in the Marche region. Tutto Oggi reported that the city of Assisi has 50,000 euros budgeted for the stage.

Filottrano will host two big events in 2018 to remember its home star Michele Scarponi, who died after being hit by a car as he trained for the 2017 Giro. The small city will welcome the finish of a Tirreno-Adriatico stage in March and on May 17, it will host the start of a Giro stage to Imola.

The climbing continues in the Alps, which separate Italy from its northern neighbors. Monte Zoncolan reappears on the menu after four years. Chris Froome tested the steep pitches in Italy’s far northeast in August with team Sky teammate Gianni Moscon, fueling speculation that he could race the 2018 edition.

The Zoncolan will be the “hardest stage of the Giro” and will feature 4,000 meters of climbing, reported Messaggero Veneto. Organizers in Italy’s northwest say differently.

L’Agenda News reported a “lethal Val di Susa stage” that climbs the gravel road over the Colle Finestre, the Colle del Sestriere, and for the finish, the road from Bardonecchia to Jafferau. The stage spans 200 kilometers and climbs 3,500 meters. The next day, stage 20 starts in Susa and heads toward the Aosta Valley and the Breuil-Cervinia ski resort.

The riders will then likely travel by train to Rome, where the Giro finishes the next day in Vatican City.

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