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By Andrew Hood
The route for the 2010 Giro d’Italia won’t be revealed until Saturday, but hints of what’s in store are already being leaked in Italy.
Several media outlets, including rival daily Tutto Sport, have scooped the newspaper owned by Giro organizers, La Gazzetta dello Sport, by cobbling together several pieces of the Giro puzzle.
What’s already confirmed is that the 2010 Giro will start in Amsterdam. From there, it’s a matter of speculation and informed guessing. Here’s a sampling of what’s been whispered. The official route will be revealed Saturday:
93rd Giro ? Starts May 8 in Amsterdam; concludes May 30 in Verona.
Plenty of mountains ? After bypassing many of them in this year’s race, the Giro’s historic, big-mountain climbs are back, with likely stages at Zoncolan, Mortirolo and the Gavia, all packed into a decisive final week in the Dolomites.
Plenty of time trials ? Specialists against the clock will have plenty to keep them busy. Time trials book-end the Giro, with a prologue to kick start the fun in Amsterdam and a time trial to close the race in Verona. Stage four will see a team time trial and there’s a likely return of the divisive climbing time trial up dirt tracks at Plan de Corones – some loved it, some hated it.
No stage will pass through Milan ? Last year saw the race skip its traditional conclusion in Milan in favor of a final-day time trial in Roma. Milan did host the now-infamous, protest-marred circuit stage in the downtown maze of cobblestoned roads laced with tram lines, parked cars, sewers and traffic circles that miffed the pros so badly they neutralized all but the final laps of the circuit. Race organizers are reportedly miffed at the apparent lack of support for the race in Milan, so they are reaching to communities that embrace the Giro whole-heartedly.
Transfer hell ? Much to the chagrin of riders and journalists alike (not to mention the drivers), it appears that innumerable transfers are back on the menu this year. After the opening three stages in Holland, with finishes in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Middleburg, the Giro doesn’t have a rest day as the peloton makes trails for Italy. The last stage in Holland is scheduled to conclude around 1 p.m. and the race continues the next day back in Italy with a team time trial in a mid-day start in Cuneo. After the TTT, there’s a 200km transfer to Novara for the start of the fifth stage, which ends in Novi Ligure, which pays homage to the 50th anniversary of Fausto Coppi’s death.
Heading south ? After its Holland start and the brutal transfer back to Italy, the race pushes south toward Tuscany and the first summit finish in stage 8 near Rome. The route continues south toward Naples, where the peloton will finally take a well-deserved breather. The route then loops back north toward the final showdown in the Dolomites.
Time trial finale in Verona ? Giro organizers are evidently happy enough with the final-day time trial formula that they’re doing it again, this time in the northern city of Verona. Closing time trials might be popular with race organizers, but riders don’t particularly like it. They prefer to have a sprint previewed by a relaxing parade to celebrate the end of a long race.
Of course, none of this is official and we’ll have to wait for the formal presentation in Milan, on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., to see if any of the preliminary speculation is right.