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The Giro d’Italia, which in 2009 will welcome seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong for the first time, will start its centenary edition in Venice on May 9 and finish in Rome on May 31, organizers said in unveiling the 3395.5km route on Saturday.
The race, which Spaniard Alberto Contador won this year, will comprise 21 stages and take in major cities including Milan, Turin, Florence, Bologna and Naples.
RCS Sport’s Angelo Zomegnan said the 2009 Giro contains stages “suitable for each and every specialist, from sprinters to time trialists to climbers,” calling it a route certain to select “the strong man, the emperor of the Centennial Giro.”
Astana general manager Johan Bruyneel, who was in Kazakhstan meeting with? President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the team’s Kazakh sponsors, said the two key stages would be the 61.7km individual ?time trial in Stage 12 and Stage 17 to Blockhaus.
“We are used to big stage races? with decisive mountain stages in the last week. We will have to change ?our usual strategy,” Bruyneel said. “That is one challenge, but the biggest challenge? will be to bring back Lance Armstrong to his level of three years ago. I? am confident about this and we are highly motivated as well by the? presence of a lot of big names at the start of this centenario.”
Reigning Giro champ Contador has his sights set on the Tour de France after his Astana team was not invited last year, leaving him unable to defend his 2007 crown. That may leave his teammate Armstrong free to fight for the Giro victory, although Italian Ivan Basso — back after a two-year doping ban — compatriots Damiano Cunego and Danilo Di Luca, and Spanish Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre will also push hard for glory.
Adding a touch of glamour, Italian couturiers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana will help to design the famous pink jersey.
The Giro will begin with a 20.5km team time trial and finish with a 15.3km individual time trial.
Stages of the 2009 Giro d’Italia
Stage 1, May 9: Venice Lido (team time trial, 20.5km)
Stage 2, May 10: Jesolo to Trieste (156km)
Stage 3, May 11: Grado to Valdobbiadene (200km)
Stage 4, May 12: Padova to San Martino di Castrozza (165km)
Stage 5, May 13: San Martino di Castrozza to Alpe di Siusi (125km)
Stage 6, May 14: Bressanone to Brixen Mayrhofen (Austria) (242km)
Stage 7, May 15: Innsbruck (Austria) to Chiavenna (244km)
Stage 8, May 16: Morbegno to Bergamo (208km)
Stage 9, May 17: Milan-Milan Milano Show (100km)
May 18 – Rest day
Stage 10, May 19: Cuneo to Pinerolo (250km)
Stage 11, May 20: Turin v Arenzano (206km)
Stage 12, May 21: Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore (individual time-trial, 61.7km)
Stage 13, May 22: Lido di Camaiore to Florence (150km)
Stage 14, May 23: Campi Bisenzio to Bologna-San Luca (174km)
Stage 15, May 24: Forli to Faenza (159km)
Stage 16, May 25: Pergola to Monte Petrano-Cagli (237km)
May 26 – Rest day
Stage 17, May 27: Chieti to Blockhaus (79km)
Stage 18, May 28: Sulmona to Benevento (181km)
Stage 19, May 29: Avellino to Vesuvius (164km)
Stage 20, May 30: Naples to Anagni (203km)
Stage 21, May 31: Rome to Rome (individual time trial, 15.3km)
—Agence France Presse contributed to this report.