Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali are both expected to...

Giro presentation short on stars, but race may be stellar

Giro race director Mauro Vegni expects the 2017 edition of the grand tour to attract top stars, and he hopes Chris Froome is one of them.

MILAN (VN) — Giro d’Italia organizer RCS Sport presented a glitzy show for the 100th edition route unveiling Tuesday night but was short on cycling stars. Cycling director Mauro Vegni says it will be a different story in 2017, when the cyclists race from May 5 to 28.

Home stars Italians Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali helped present the 2017 route. They were happy to do so since the race visits both of their homes, the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, respectively, next year.

Aru and Nibali are almost obliged to race since the Giro will celebrate its 100th edition with rare visits to their islands. Insiders told VeloNews that they already confirmed their participation, and while Aru will remain with his Astana team, Nibali will part ways with his countryman and race for Bahrain – Merida.

However, some tuning in to the live stream might have thought the 2017 will lack stars given those few attending Tuesday evening.

“The cyclists need to race and win both the Giro and Tour, those big riders who go to the Tour need to think about the Giro, as well,” Vegni said. “There are stages for everyone in next year’s Giro. Stages for time trialists and for climbers, ones for sprinters. Enough for everyone.”

The stages caught the attention of three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky). When the route came out via a leak Monday, Froome took to Twitter to share his approval.

Vegni says those close to the organization are negotiating with Froome to attend in 2017. The last time he lined up was in 2010, before he became a big grand tour star. Since, he raced only the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, winning the former three times and placing second in the Vuelta three times.

Movistar’s Nairo Quintana won the Vuelta last month ahead of Froome. His first grand tour title, however, came in Italy in the 2014 Giro. He will take aim at a Tour victory in 2017. Alberto Contador is expected to be in the Tour, too, leading his new Trek – Segafredo team.

Tom Dumoulin (Giant – Alpecin), Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL – Jumbo), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and one of the Orica – BikeExchange twins, Adam or Simon Yates should race in May.

They will find a route that balances mountains with time trials. The Giro presented four summit finish stages with 67.2 kilometers of time trials — one on stage 10 and the second on the final day to Milan.

The four summit finishes include and early trip up Mount Etna in stage 4. The 17.45-kilometer climb to 1,892 meters will likely sort the classification before the race even sets foot the mainland.

“The riders make the race hard. It’s going to be demanding, the fourth stage already had a demanding summit finish,” Vegni added. “If you come to the Giro you need to come ready from day one. It’s hard, also hard mentally to face these days, one after another.”

Vegni and RCS Sport tried to visit all 21 regions and the eight cities that hosted the stage starts and finishes in 1909, the first edition.

“The goal of ours was to embrace all of Italy, even if it’s hard to do so. I think we are hitting 16 regions.

“It’s hard, if you are on the Adriatic coast; you can’t just zip over to the west coast to race along the Tyrrhenian coast. It’s a Giro though that celebrates Italy.

“I was sorry to leave out Rome in a way, but if you are on the Adriatic coast, then it’s hard to get over to Rome.

“We wanted to keep the transfers low, that’s been our aim in the last several years. OK, maybe we could’ve done it, but it would’ve pushed up the transfer kilometers. We needed to keep our stance, even with this true tour of Italy the transfers are around 1,300 or 1,400 kilometers, and that’s it.”