The route for the 97th edition of the Giro d’Italia, which will roll out in Northern Ireland on Friday May 9, has been revealed in Milan.
Three time trials, eight flat stages, nine mountain stages – of which there are no shortage of summit finishes – and the final circuit in Trieste amount to just shy of 3,450km of racing.
A team time trial in Belfast will launch the race – one day earlier than usual due to teams’ insistence of a rest day before racing begins in Italy for stage four – and the maglia rosa is likely to be settled on the fearsome climb of Monte Zoncalon on the penultimate stage on Saturday May 31.
In all, there will be more than 420km of racing in Ireland, with the TTT followed by a relatively flat 218km from Belfast, taking in the Northern Irish coastline via the Giant’s Causeway and Carrickfergus, before returning to the capital.
And the Giro’s first visit to the United Kingdom will be completed when the peloton departs Armagh for a 187km ride to Dublin on Sunday May 11.
The first Grand Tour of the year will also feature a long 46.4km time trial from Barbaresco to Barolo and a shorter, uphill 26.8km race against the clock on Monte Grappa.
The gruelling stage to Val Martello, via the Passo dello Stelvio and Passo Gavia, which was snowed off this year, will also return to form stage 16.
The route also pays tribute to the late Marco Pantani, with finishes at Oropa and Plan di Montecampione – the scenes of two of the Italian’s greatest Giro d’Italia stage victories.
Rest days are scheduled for all three Mondays, while the south-to-north route up Italy including far less travel between stages than in previous years.
The 10.1km climb of the Zoncolan, which reaches a maximum gradient of 22 per cent gradients, returns after a one-year absence on stage 20, while tough ascents of Montecopiolo and Sestola come during a tough weekend in the Apennines.
Giro d’Italia 2014 – route
Friday May 9: Belfast-Belfast – 21.7km team time trial
Saturday May 10: Belfast-Belfast – 218km
Suday May 11: Armagh-Dublin – 187km
Monday May 12: rest day – transfer to Italy
Tuesday May 13: Giovinazzo-Bari – 121km
Wednesday May 14: Taranto-Viggiano – 200km
Thursday May 15: Sassano-Montecassino – 247km
Friday May 16: Frosinone-Foligno – 214km
Saturday May 17: Foligno-Montecopiolo – 174km
Sunday May 18: Lugo-Sestola – 174km
Monday May 19: rest day
Tuesday May 20: Modena-Salsomaggiore Terme – 184km
Wednesday May 21: Collecchio-Savona – 249km
Thursday May 22: Barbaresco-Barolo – 46.4km individual time trial
Friday May 23: Fossano-Rivarolo Canavese – 158km
Saturday May 24: Aglie-Oropa – 162km
Sunday May 25: Valdengo to Plan di Montecampione – 217km
Monday May 26: rest day
Tuesday May 27: Ponte di Legno-Val Martello – 139km
Wednesday May 28: Sarnonico-Vittorio Veneto – 204km
Thursday May 29: Belluno-Rifugio Panarotta – 171km
Friday May 30: Monte Grappa – 26.8km individual mountain time trial
Saturday May 31: Maniago-Monte Zoncolan – 167km
Sunday June 1: Gemona del Friuli-Trieste – 169km