Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia unveils 2015 route, includes 59km time trial

The long race against the clock will balance out the demanding grand tour route, which features several mountaintop finishes

MILAN (VN) — The Giro d’Italia will mix mountains with time trial kilometers in 2015 thanks to a 59.2km stage midway in the three-week race from May 9-31.

“It’s not an easy Giro d’Italia with 44,000 meters of climbing,” race director Mauro Vegni said. “The time trial is long, but based on the climbing both before and after the time trial stage, I think it’ll balance well with the mountains and not risk favoring the time trial riders over the climbers.”

The race against the clock through the Prosecco countryside in the country’s north is the longest time trial in six years. Organizer RCS Sport’s inclusion of a 60.6km time trial in 2009 was largely seen as an incentive for Lance Armstrong to race.

RCS Sport included a 55.5km time trial in 2013 that Englishman Alex Dowsett (Movistar) won ahead of countryman Bradley Wiggins (Sky). The inclusion of the Saltara stage helped convince 2012 Tour de France winner Wiggins to participate in the Giro.

Vegni said he wants Wiggins to return again before he retires. Wiggins, however, is planning on bowing out after Paris-Roubaix next season before he switches focus to the hour record and track cycling at the 2016 Olympics.

The Giro d’Italia first included a time trial in 1933, a 62km stage won by Alfredo Binda. Fausto Coppi won the race’s longest time trial of 81km in 1951.

Regardless of the participants, the 17.6km team time trial to open the race in Sanremo and the 59.2km stage from Treviso to Valdobbiadene will balance the Giro’s 2015 edition. It will tip the scales in favor of riders like 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and 2013 Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky), if he decides to race.

The Giro often favors climbers — look no further than the featherweight 2014 champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) — more so than the Tour de France, thanks to its reliance on high-mountain stages through the Alps in the country’s north. Behind Quintana, Urán placed second and Italian Fabio Aru (Astana) was third.

Quintana already decided to race the Tour instead of the Giro in 2015, while Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) plans to race the first two grand tours. Other possible contenders have not yet announced their 2015 plans.

Climbers will find plenty for them in the Giro d’Italia because as usual, the race features several mountaintop finishes (six in 2015), including Abetone, Madonna di Campiglio, Aprica, Cervinia, and Sestriere.

The Abetone stage (stage 5), finishing at 1,386 meters begins the party. RCS Sport saved the best for the final week, though, with Madonna di Campiglio (1715m), Aprica (1173m), Cervinia (2001m), and the gravel climb up the Colle delle Finestre (2178m) ahead of the Sestriere finish (2035m).

Sestriere, which last hosted the finish when Vasil Kiryienka won in 2011, will cement the overall classification with the final 185km stage from Turin to Milan mostly used as a day of celebration for the eventual winner.

Besides the long time trial, the 2015 Giro includes marathon-like road stages. Three of its 21 days stretch over 200km, with the longest at the end of the first week looking more like a one-day monument at 263km to Fiuggi.