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By staff and wire reports
The 2007 Giro d’Italia will kick off May 12 with a team time trial on the island of Caprera, ascend the feared Monte Zoncolan — a 10.1km ascent with an average gradient of 17 percent — and finish in Milan on June 3, organizers announced Saturday in Milan.
“It will be a beautiful tour,” said 2006 winner Ivan Basso, who will be racing in Discovery Channel colors next year. “It’s more varied than last year and should be more open. I think it will be a spectacular race.”
The 90th running of the Italian national tour includes eight stages for the sprinters, five mountain stages, another five of moderate difficulty and three races against the clock, including the opening TTT.
Race director Angelo Zomegnan called the 2007 Giro a return to relative normality, saying it was “less difficult” than last year’s race.
Gilberto Simoni agreed that the 2007 Giro looked like “a more human tour” than this year’s edition, but added that the summit finishes are brutal, “above all the Zoncolan and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.”
Damiano Cunego said the route suited him and his strengths.
“It appeals to me very much,” said Cunego. “Complete and adapted to my characteristics.”
Still, all eyes will be on the 29-year-old defending champion Basso, who was denied a start in this year’s Tour de France after he was implicated with dozens of other riders in Operación Puerto, which has yet to reach its conclusion in Spain.
Basso has been cleared to race by the Italian sports authorities, although the judge in charge of the affair has indicated he may call Basso and other riders to give evidence in the coming months.
Nevertheless, the Italian waved away any concerns during Saturday’s route announcement.
“I’ve been cleared of any wrongdoing by the sports authorities and all I can think about now is being in competitive form for the Giro and the Tour in 2007,” said Basso.
“Most people have been behind me in the four months that I was forcefully banned from racing. To all of them I want to say one thing: Wait until I return to the major stage races to see what I’m capable of. It is the only possible way of showing that my implication (in Spain) was total nonsense. My name has never appeared in this Spanish investigation.”
The 90th Giro d’Italia
May 12-June 3, 2007
21 stages (3442km)
May 12, Stage 1: Caprera-La Maddalena (team time trial), 24km
May 13, Stage 2: Tempio Pausania-Bosa, 203km
May 14, Stage 3: Barumini-Cagliari, 195km
May 15: Rest day
May 16, Stage 4: Salerne-Montevergine di Mercogliano, 158km
May 17, Stage 5: Teano-Frascati, 172km
May 18, Stage 6: Tivoli-Spoleto, 181km
May 19, Stage 7: Spoleto-Scarperia, 239km
May 20, Stage 8: Barberino di Mugello-Fiorano Modenese, 194km
May 21, Stage 9: Reggio Nell’Emilia-Lido di Camaiore, 182km
May 22, Stage 10: Lido di Camaiore-Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia, 230km
May 23, Stage 11: Serravalle Scrivia-Pinerolo, 192km
May 24, Stage 12: Scalenghe-Briançon (FRA), 163km
May 25, Stage 13: Biella-Santuario di Oropa (individual time trial), 13km
May 26, Stage 14: Cantu-Bergame, 181km
May 27, Stage 15: Trente-Tre Cime di Lavaredo, 190km
May 28: Rest day
May 29, Stage 16: Agordo-Lienz (AUT), 196km
May 30, Stage 17: Lienz (AUT)-Monte Zoncolan, 146km
May 31, Stage 18: Udine-Riese Pie X, 182km
June 1, Stage 19: Trévise-Comano Terme, 178km
June 2, Stage 20: Bardolino-Vérone (individual time trial), 42km
June 3, Stage 21: Vestone-Milan, 181km
Main climbing stages
May 16, Stage 4: Salerno-Montevergine di Mercogliano, 158km. A 17.1km climb towards summit finish at the 1260-meter Montevergine di Mercogliano. Gradients 5-10 percent.
May 18, Stage 6: Tivoli-Spoleto, 181km. 21km climb over the 1894-metre altitude Monte Terminillo. Gradients 6.6-12 percent.
May 22, Stage 10: Lido di Camaiore-Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia, 230km. 9km climb to the summit finish of 760-meter Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia. Gradients 7.8-14 percent.
May 24, Stage 12: Scalenghe-Briancon (France), 163km. 21.3km climb over the Col dell’Agnello at 2744 meters altitude. Gradients 6.8-15 percent. 14.1km climb over Col d’Izoard at 2360 meters. Gradients 5.8-14 percent.
May 25, Stage 13: Biella-Santuario di Oropa (individual time trial), 13km. 13km steady climb to Santuario di Oropa at 1135 meters. Gradients 5.5-13 percent.
May 26, Stage 14: Cantu-Bergamo, 181km. 26.1km climb over the San Marco pass, at 1985 meters. Gradients 6.7-12 percent.
May 27 stage 15: Trento-Tre Cime di Lavaredo 190km. 11.6km climb over San Pellegrino pass at 1918 meters. Gradients 6.4-14 percent. 9.8km climb over Giau pass at 2236 meters. Gradients 9-14 percent. 21.9km climb to summit of Tre Cime di Lavaredo at 2320 metres. Gradients 4.7-18 percent.
May 30, Stage 17: Lienz (Austria)-Monte Zoncolan, 146km. 10.1km climb to summit finish Monte Zoncolan at 1730 meters. Gradients 11.9-22 percent.