Giro d'Italia
The Gavia in the 2004 Giro. Photo: Graham Watson |...

7 stages loom large in the 2013 Giro d’Italia

AFP takes a look at seven stages that could prove critical in the 2013 Giro d'Italia

MILAN (AFP) — A list of the likely key stages of the 2013 Giro d’Italia following the unveiling of the 96th edition on Sunday:

May 11, Stage 8 — Gabbicce Mare to Saltara, 55.5km (time trial)

Giro organizers do not traditionally include long time trials and this 55.5km test at the end of the first week is the second longest of its kind since the Cinque Terre race against the clock in 2009. it’s the first real chance for contenders to make their mark.

May 14, Stage 10 — Cordenons to Altopiano del Montasio, 167km

After the race’s first rest day the peloton tackles the Altopiano del Montasio climb, which is close to the border with Slovenia and, making its first appearance on the race route, could spring a surprise or two.

May 18, Stage 14 — Cervere to Bardonecchia, 156km

This stage is mostly undulating during a steady uphill slog to Sestriere, from where the peloton descends into the Suse valley to tackle the final climb to Bardonecchia, a 7km hike at a steep average gradient of 9 percent.

May 19, Stage 15 — Cesana Torinese to Col du Galibier (France), 150km

Mont Cenis sits on the border of both France and Italy and will lead the peloton to the Maurienne valley and on to the Telegraphe climb, from which they will tackle the Galibier by its northern and most difficult side.

May 23, Stage 18 — Mori to Polsa, 19.4km (uphill time trial)

The race’s second individual time trial is uphill and will require strong climbing and big horsepower to maintain top speed over the distance of 19.4km. The field will climb 1000 meters in altitude.

May 24, Stage 19 — Ponte di Legno to Val Martello Martelltal, 138km

A real climber’s stage that begins with the appetizer of the Gavia, continues with the climb over the formidable Stelvio — at 2758 meters the highest point of the race — and ends with the long climb to Val Martello.

May 25, Stage 20 — Silandro to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, 202km

A day before the finish in Brescia, challengers who are not too far off the lead will have a chance to close the gap in the final 138km of this stage, which has barely a meter of flat road. Four mountain passes are on the menu, with the finish on the spectacular Tre Cime di Lavaredo.