By Andrew Hood
The official route details won’t be revealed until Saturday, but more features of the 2008 Giro d’Italia are being discovered.
Local officials in Sicily unveiled the profiles of the opening three stages of the 2008 Giro set to begin May 10 on the Italian island.
The corsa rosa will begin with a 28.5km team time trial in Palermo and pass most of the city’s most interesting landmarks with the start in front of the Teatro Politeama and concluding near the Massimo theatre.
The first road stage will roll from Cefalu to Agrigento, running from the north to the south of the island over a route that covers some of the same trajectory as used in the 1994 world championships.
The second road stage will be another well-suited for the sprinters in a rolling course from Catania to Milazzo along the eastern edges of the island near the Etna volcano.
The teams will then make a short transfer back to Italy’s mainland to resume the race the following day without taking a rest day during the short transit.
The full route will be revealed in a posh ceremony in Milan on Saturday.
More Vuelta details, too
The 2008 Vuelta a España route will also be unveiled next week, on December 5 in Madrid, but course details are also making their way into the media.
Local officials already said earlier this month that the fearsome Angliru climb will be back on tap for the 2008 Vuelta, set to start in Granada. Now comes word that the penultimate stage will be an individual climbing time trial at the top of the steep Puerto de Navacerrada in the mountains north of Madrid.
The return of the Angliru and the presence of a climbing time trial in the final weekend will surely appease critics who blasted this year’s Vuelta as being too “top heavy,” with little to liven the three-week race in its final half.
Audi joins sponsor exit; Giant stays
German carmaker Audi is following T-Mobile in an early exit from cycling. German media reported Thursday that Audi will end its sponsorship of the T-Mobile cycling team at the end of this year.
The withdrawal of the team’s co-sponsor follows the departure of German telecommunications giant T-Mobile, which announced Tuesday it was ending its 14-year sponsorship program at the end of this season.
“The withdrawal of Deutsche Telekom means we’ve lost the major partner and the basis of our involvement,” The Associated Press quoted Audi spokeswoman Iris Altig as saying. “We will not continue our involvement next year.”
Adidas announced earlier this season it was also pulling out of its cycling sponsorship as German cycling continues to buckle under the pressure from a string of high-profile doping scandals.
Team officials this week assured riders and staff that it will continue operation of the team under the name of Team High Road. Team manager Bob Stapleton said there is enough money in place to continue the team through the 2008-09 seasons. Stapleton holds a ProTour license that is valid through the 2010 season.
The Associated Press also reported that bike sponsor Giant will stay onboard.
Nardello joins Simoni
A day after announcing the arrival of German sprinter Danilo Hondo, the upstart Italian team Diquigiovanni announced another addition with Italian veteran Daniele Nardello.
The 35-year-old Nardello raced with LPR this season following several years with T-Mobile and other top Italian teams.
Nardello and Hondo will round out the squad with higher ambitions for the upcoming season. With the addition of two-time Giro champ Gilberto Simoni, the continental team is hoping to be back at the Giro after missing out on an invitation in 2007.
Diquigiovanni for 2008: Gilberto Simoni, Alessandro Bertolini, Santo Anz, Manuel Belletti, Denis Bertolini, Emiliano Donadello, Francesco Ginanni, Gabriele Missaglia, Daniele Nardello and Leonardo Moser (all Italian), Carlos Ochoa, Richard Ochoa and Jackson Rodriguez (all Ven), Jose Serpa (Col), Nicklas Axelsson (Swe), Ruslan Ivanov (Mld), Roberto Cobo (Sp) and Danilo Hondo (G).