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Starting outside of Europe in Israel, and racing north to Italy’s Dolomite and Alpine mountain ranges, the 2018 Giro d’Italia will be a true challenge for Sky’s Chris Froome as he attempts a grand slam of three grand tour wins in a row.
Chris Froome (Sky) confirmed he’ll race the Italian grand tour via video during Wednesday’s route announcement in Milan. The Giro features a mountainous final week in the Alps with three consecutive summit finishes: Prato Nevoso, Bardonecchia, and Cervinia.
Defending Giro champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) was cagey about his plans to race the 2018 tour. “I like this Giro but I cannot say anything yet about my presence at the start in May … First I need to carefully study the route,” the Dutchman said. “I was the strongest in 2017, but 2018 is a different race. Froome is a strong rider and his presence makes the race harder and more interesting.”
Froome will aim to win three consecutive grand tours, having won the 2017 Tour de France and Vuelta a España. The Giro, held May 4-27 next season, might be his toughest challenge yet, with two individual time trials, eight summit finishes, and 44,000 meters of climbing over 3,546.2 kilometers.
Of the first three stages in Israel, the stage 1 individual time trial will be the top priority for GC favorites. It is a technical, hilly test through Jerusalem. After that, stages 2 and 3 will be hilly but not truly selective.
Following an early rest day, the Giro sweeps through Sicily in three stages, with the final day, stage 6, finishing atop Mount Etna, where stage 4 of the 2017 Giro finished. However, in 2018, the peloton will climb the volcano from the observatory side.
“The first climbs are really important because you have good condition from the beginning of the race,” said Fabio Aru, who will race for UAE Team Emirates in 2018. “Losing seconds or even minutes at the start of the Giro could be very difficult to recover later.
As the race makes its way north to the Dolomites, riders will face two summit finishes, Montevergine di Mercogliano and the Gran Sasso d’Italia, on stages 8 and 9, respectively. The latter should be especially difficult both due to the length of the stage, 224km, and the 45km ascent to the finish.
Fans will want to circle stage 14 on their must-watch list, as it features a finish atop the famous Monte Zoncolon. That day includes five categorized climbs and 4,400 meters of ascent.
After a third and final rest day, the GC riders will come to the fore in stage 16’s 34.5km individual time trial. Organizers describe it as an “almost-flat route for ITT specialists.”
Finally, the race comes to a climax in the Alps with three mountaintop finishes, stages 18-20. The Giro’s penultimate stage is especially challenging. The 214km stage begins in Susa with a slight downhill run for the first half before the Col Tsecore, Col St. Pantaleon, and the finish atop Cervinia. The stage climbs 4,500 meters in total.
2018 Giro d’Italia stages
Stage 1: May 4, Jerusalem (Isr) – Jerusalem (Isr) 9.7km individual time trial
Stage 2: May 5, Haifa (Isr) – Tel Aviv (ISR) 167km
Stage 3: May 6, Be’er Sheva (Isr) – Eilat (ISR) 229km
Rest day: May 7
Stage 4: May 8, Catania – Caltagirone 191km
Stage 5: May 9, Agrigento – Santa Ninfa (Valle del Belice) 152km
Stage 6: May 10, Caltanissetta – Etna 163km
Stage 7: May 11, Pizzo – Praia A Mare 159km
Stage 8: May 12, Praia A Mare – Montevergine Di Mercogliano 208km
Stage 9: May 13, Pesco Sannita – Gran Sasso d’Italia 224km
Second rest day: May 14
Stage 10: May 15, Penne – Gualdo Tadino 239 km
Stage 11: May 16, Assisi – Osimo 156km
Stage 12: May 17, Osimo – Imola 213km
Stage 13: May 18, Ferrara – Nervesa Della Battaglia 180km
Stage 14: May 19, San Vito Al Tagliamento – Monte Zoncolan 181km
Stage 15: May 20, Tolmezzo – Sappada 176km
Third rest day: May 21
Stage 16: May 22, Trento – Rovereto individual time trial 34.5km
Stage 17: May 23, Franciacorta Stage (Riva del Garda – Iseo) 155km
Stage 18: May 24, Abbiategrasso – Prato Nevoso 196km
Stage 19: May 25, Venaria Reale – Bardonecchia 181km
Stage 20: May 26, Susa – Cervinia 214km
Stage 21: May 27, Rome – Rome, 118km