The 2015 Giro d'Italia will include six mountain finishes, three other testing days of climbing, six stages for the sprinters and a 59.2km individual time trial from Treviso to Valdobbiadene.
Six mountain finishes, six stages for the sprinters
59.2km individual time trial
Race starts with a team time trial
Full route of 3,481km, from May 9 - 31
Stages for Contador, Nibali, Cavendish and Kittel
The 2015 Giro d'Italia begins with a 17.6km team time trial along a spectacular coastal bike path from San Lorenzo al Mare (at the foot of the Cirpressa climb) to San Remo on Saturday, May 9. It will end three weeks later on Sunday, May 31 with a 185km road stage from Turin to Milan and seven laps of a city centre circuit. The riders will race for 3481km during the three weeks, for an average of 165km a day.
The mountain finishes are at Abetone in the central Apennines between Florence and Bologna, Campitello Matese near Naples, Madonna di Campiglio, Aprica - after climbing the Mortirolo. Cervinia in the Alps and finally at Sestriere, after climbing the dirt track to the summit of the Colle delle Finestre.
The finish in Cervinia is preceded by the Saint-Bathelemy and the Cole de Saint-Pantaleon climbs packed into the finale, while 18.4km climb of Colle delle Finestre near the French border is the highest of the 2015 Giro d'Italia at 2178m and so will award the Cima Coppi prize to the first rider to the top.
RCS Sport seems to have avoided climbs approaching 3,000m in a move to avoid the bad weather and consequent polemics that occurred this year on the Passo Stelvio.
The six mountain finishes stand out like shark teeth on the route profile but the early stages to Sestri Levante and La Spezia, stage nine to San Giorgio del Sannio and stage 18 to Verbania also have lots of bite and should not be ignored. Monte Ologno rises from the shores of Lago Maggiore for 10km at an average of nine per cent and is followed by a hair-raising descent back to Verbania. It would be perfect for a late attack from Vincenzo Nibali if he can convince the Astana team to let him ride.
There are only 76.8km of time trialing but with the opening team time trial only 17.6km long. That means the Treviso-Valdobbiadene individual time trial is a whopping 59.2km, one of the longest seen in the Giro d’Italia for several years. The mixed profile of flat roads and then rolling roads in the Prosecco vineyards will make it even harder for the Grand Tour contenders and no doubt open some significant time gaps.
Six stages for the sprinters
Nacer Bouhanni, Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel may be tempted to return to the Giro d'Italia in 2015 after seeing the six sprint opportunities in the route. The stages to Genoa, Castiglione della Pescaia, Forli, Jesolo, Lugano and Milan are flat, while even the stages to Fiuggi and Imola could end in a sprint of some kind. Stage 11 to Imola includes three 16.9km circuits with the finish in the motor racing circuit named after Enzo and Dino Ferrari.
Race director Mauro Vegni promised to limit transfer to less than 1,000 kilometres in 2015. Riders face a 350km haul to the Adriatic coast after stage nine to San Giorgio del Sannio before they enjoy the first rest day. However the remaining stages are closely connected meaning riders should be in their hotels within an hour of most stage finishes.
RCS Sport is hoping it is just one factor that will convince many of the big-name Grand Tour contenders to take on Contador in both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2015. The Giro route makes it physically possible, it is perhaps up to the riders and their teams to accept the challenge.
Route of the 2015 Giro d'Italia:
May 09, Stage 1: San Lorenzo Al Mare - Sanremo (Team time trial), 17.6km
May 10, Stage 2: Albenga - Genoa, 173km
May 11, Stage 3: Rapallo - Sestri Levante, 136km
May 12, Stage 4: Chiavari - La Spezia, 150km
May 13, Stage 5: La Spezia - Abetone, 152km
May 14, Stage 6: Montecatini Terme - Castiglione Della Pescaia, 181km
May 15, Stage 7: Grosseto - Fiuggi, 263km
May 16, Stage 8: Fiuggi - Campitello Matese, 188km
May 17, Stage 9: Benevento - San Giorgio Del Sannio, 212km
May 18, Rest day
May 19, Stage 10: Civitanova Marche - Forlì, 195km
May 20, Stage 11: Forlì - Imola (Autodromo Ferrari), 147km
May 21, Stage 12: Imola - Vicenza (Monte Berico), 190km
May 22, Stage 13: Montecchio Maggiore - Jesolo, 153km
May 23, Stage 14: Treviso - Valdobbiadene (Individual time trial), 59.2km
May 24, Stage 15: Marostica - Madonna Di Campiglio, 165km
May 25, Rest day
May 26, Stage 16: Pinzolo - Aprica, 175km
May 27, Stage 17: Tirano - Lugano, 136km
May 28, Stage 18: Melide - Verbania, 172km
May 29, Stage 19: Gravellona Toce - Cervinia, 236km
May 30, Stage 20: Saint-Vincent - Sestriere, 196km
May 31, Stage 21: Turin - Milan, 185km