2021 Giro d’Italia Preview: The first Grand Tour of the season is the last to announce their route for 2021. As always the ‘percorso’ has everything, including a time trial finalé. Ed Hood has run an educated eye over the course for the ‘PEZ Giro d’Italia First Look’.
Repeat final stage over-turn in 2021?
The Giro is back in its rightful place with just 10 weeks until; ‘all the world is pink.’ The organisation has released the percorso for our delight and delectation. It starts and finishes with a chrono but this is no race for the rouleurs with multiple stage finishes atop climbs. Total distance is 3,450 kilometres with 46 vertical kilometres within those. Let’s have a wander through a percorso which neglects the deep south but does delve deeply into Italy’s most closely packed contour lines.
Stage 1: Torino, 9.0 km (Individual Time Trial)
Torino again hosts an opening chrono, last time it was a TTT, back in 2011 with HTC winning and ‘chronoman’ Marco Pinotti taking the jersey – another specialist will win this one and it’ll be Ganna in pink.
I think we know who might win the first TT
Torino is a great city – close to the Alps, big enough and small enough to spend some time on either end of a cycling trip to Alps.
Stage 2: Stupinigi (Nichelino) to Novara, 173 km
For the sprinters with Big Fillippo still in pink; Cipollini to win – what’s that, he quit, when?
Turn back the clock
Stage 3: Biella to Canale, 187 km
A little lumpy towards the end but the sprint trains will still be fresh and hungry and some of the sprinters will know they ain’t gonna make those mountain time cuts so they must ‘make hay. . .
Stage 4: Piacenza to Sestola, 186 km
Is for the breakaway BUT the GC boys just might probe on that climb to the finish?
Stage 4 – Too tough for the sprinters
Stage 5: Modena to Cattolica, 171 km
PAN flat for the sprinters – Minali hasn’t quit too, has he?
Flat enough for Nicola Minali
Stage 6: Grotte di Frasassi to Ascoli Piceno (San Giacomo), 150 km
That’s one big ‘hump’ in the middle then a mountain top finish to give 3,400 meters of climbing, the pencil sketch of the GC is forming by now.
Stage 7: Notaresco to Termoli, 178 km
A doomed breakaway and sprint stage with the requisite crazy finale.
Stage 8 – Uphill finish in Guarda Sanframondi
Stage 8: Foggia to Guardia Sanframondi, 173 km
A breakaway stage for sure – but will they survive that GC onslaught to the finish?
Nothing new in a bit of gravel
Stage 9: Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice (Rocca di Cambio), 160 km
One for the climbers with four categorised climbs and a mountain top finish – seasoned with a little gravel.
One for the sprinters?
Stage 10: L’Aquila to Foligno, 140 km
The sprinters get an even break before the first rest day – despite the early lumps and bumps for the breakaway.
Yes, more gravel
Stage 11: Perugia to Montalcino, 163 km
This one includes 35 kilometres of gravel, a climb at the end but a downhill finish – for the strongman/baroudeur today. The climbers best be on their guard on that gravel – Martin and I ‘were those roadside soldiers’ when Cadel Evans won a similar stage in horrific weather conditions back in 2010, it’s one tough day at the office.
Stage 12: Siena to Bagno di Romagna, 209 km
For the breakaway and a good day to garner montagne points with four categorised climbs.
No Ed, Ivan has retired
Stage 13: Ravenna to Verona, 197 km
Pan flat and made for Ivan Quaranta, he was World Junior Sprint Champion and Marco Villa reckons he’s quicker than Mario – eh, he’s retired too?
Zoncolan – As ugly as Pez Sez here.
Stage 14: Cittadella to Monte Zoncolan, 205 km
The Zoncolan is one of those climbs which PEZ soothsayer and mentor, Viktor shouldn’t be included – preposterously steep and suiting only a handful of the skinniest of men. But the TV and tifosi love it – and Vik will be watching it just like everyone else. A day you can lose the Giro.
Slovenia for the day
Stage 15: Grado to Gorizia, 145 km
For the breakaway and pops into Slovenia whilst the GC guys get their breath back.
The Passo Padoi
Stage 16: Sacile to Cortina d’Ampezzo, 212 km
A monstrous, as in 5,700 metres, Dolomites stage with Passeos Pordoi at 2239 metres ‘Clima Coppi’ as the highest point in the race and the Giau not far behind it at 2233 metres but with a long downhill run to the finish.
The Giro battle will be full on by now
Stage 17: Canazei to Sega di Ala, 193 km
Another hard day at the coal face with a mountain top finish allowing no scope to make up lost ground as there was on Stage 16.
Stradella stage 18 finish
Stage 18: Rovereto to Stradella, 228 km
Velocisti and a difficult day for the commentators. . .
A stage for Bernal?
Stage 19: Abbiategrasso to Alpe di Mera (Valsesia), 178 km
Bernal has already been out to recce this new climb to Alpe di Mera – will this be the day the race is won and lost? Ah, sorry, no, that’s tomorrow. . .
Stage 20: Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta, 164 km
Another ‘monstro’ with three mega ascents in the second half, two of them topping 2,000 metres; a total of 4,800 metres climbing on this penultimate day.
Important final TT
Stage 21: Senago to Milano, 29.4 km (Individual Time Trial)
Good to see a final time test rather that a ‘procession’ – the organisers will be hoping for a repeat of last year.
It’s perhaps too early to talk about potential winners but Patrick Lefevere is launching last year’s race revelation, Portugal’s Joao Almeida back into the fray for Deceuninck; 2020 Tour winner, Egan Bernal is INEOS man for the job – with all those vertical metres right up his passeo; twice a winner, ‘Home Boy’ Vincenzo Nibali will be there for Trek – but Father Time has hacked his power meter; France’s Thibaut Pinot hopes that the lack of huge home expectation will enable him to achieve what everyone at Groupama believes he is capable of but has yet to achieve; ‘Mickey’ Landa has Bahrain hoping he can be victorious for them but it’ll be hard for the Spaniard to shake off his ‘nearly man’ tag; Simon Yates is back with Team BikeExchange to attempt to finish the job the ‘Brit’ started but failed to complete in 2018 and that other Frenchman who’s not quite lived up to expectation but who’ll revel in the climbs – and descents – Romain Bardet will be there in a new maillot, that of DSM, hoping that his new broom will sweep clean. And best not forget Astana’s Russian revelation, Aleksandr Vlasov. Teams-wise, all the big names are there but a shame Androni don’t make the cut, those boys know how to ‘honour the pink race’ – Wanty will take up that role though.
Will Evenepoel be the revelation of the 2021 Giro?
What the riders say:
Remco Evenepoel: “My big goal is to be ready for the start of the Giro. As you all know, last year, I was not able to compete in the race because of an injury after my crash at Il Lombardia. The course for this year seems to be really hard, and beautiful too. So I think it will be a nice race. I’m looking forward to feeling the Italian atmosphere and seeing all those amazing tifosi!”
Peter Sagan: “My participation at the Giro d’Italia last year was a wonderful experience and something that I’d always wanted to do. Now I am training in the Canary Islands ahead of the new season and hope to return to Italy ready to race.”
Bernal: Swap yellow for pink?
Egan Bernal: “I’m really happy to be preparing for the Giro d’Italia. This is a race that I have been wanting to do for a long time, since I first came to Italy. This year, I am really happy to be racing it and I have already been up Alpe di Mera, to try out that stage. This will be a difficult race, but still, I cannot wait to do it, as this one will be a beautiful Giro. I’ll be expecting all the fans to be cheering from home, in front of the tv, for both myself and for all the riders and teams that will be there.”
Vincenzo Nibali: “I do like this year’s course, and I’m happy about the way it’s been designed. There are a lot of climbs – some of these are major ones, like the Zoncolan! For now, I’ll focus on preparing for the race in the best way possible.”
Ganna in pink
Filippo Ganna: “I’m really happy that the 104th edition of the Giro will start from Turin and my home region, Piemonte. The course for Stage 1 looks like a really fast one and I’m ready to do well in it. I’m looking to start the Giro on the right foot and replicate what I did last year, trying to wear the first Maglia Rosa.”
All that pink is good for the soul, the scenery is fantastic, the Tifosi are always fun, the vibe not too janitorial – and it’s impossible to get a bad cappuccino. Role on My 8th when the world turns PiNK. . .
# Stay PEZ for everything Pink. #