Giro d'Italia 2016 route: five key stages

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Giro d’Italia 2016 route: five key stages which could decide the race

Summit finishes and a mountain time trial to decide the 2016 Corsa Rosa

The route for the 2016 Giro d’Italia has been confirmed, with three time trials and a mountainous detour into the French Alps both on the cards.

Rolling out of the Netherlands on Friday May 6, the route totals 3,383km, with plenty of opportunities for sprinters, breakaway riders and climbers alike to make their mark.

Alberto Contador, 2015 champion, has already confirmed he won’t be defending his title, leaving the race for the pink jersey open.

But where will those riders bidding to win the first Grand Tour of the 2016 season look to strike, and where could the race be won or lost? Following the announcement of the route, we’ve picked out five eye-catching and potentially decisive stages.

Stage six – Ponte to Roccaraso

Although the major mountain tests are still more than a week away when the peloton races from Ponte to Roccaraso, stage six will be an early test of form for the general classification men.

An uphill start to Torrecuso is followed by the Bocca di Selva before the run-in to the Aremogna, where the stage winner will be crowned.

The final climb, with an average gradient of 4.4 per cent, shouldn’t be enough to cause the GC contenders any significant worries, but the 9.25km ascent could show up anyone who’s arrived at the Giro not in form – especially if the heat has been on over the stage’s earlier climbs.

Add to that the 233km stage which precedes stage six and, after a relatively flat opening to the race, the climbs here could serve up a nasty early sting, with the maglia rosa likely to change hands.

Stage 14 – Alpago to Corvara

Stage 14 in the Dolomites represents the first big mountain test, with a six categorised climbs awaiting at the end of the second week.

The 40.4km stage nine time trial in the Chianti vineyards will already have shaken up the GC, but as long as the climbers have stayed in contention this 210km stage will be the day to seize back the initiative.

Of the six categorised climbs, four are packed into a 40km stretch, starting with the Passo Pordoi and taking in the Passo Sella Sellajoch, Passo Gardena Grodnerjoch and Passo Campolongo.

And when all those have been crested, the Passo Giau still awaits – a climb veterans of the Maratona dles Dolomites will know as the steepest of the sportive’s seven peaks. Being 10km in length and with an average gradient of a shade over nine per cent, it’s not one for the faint-hearted.

The Passo Valparola is the final classified climb to be tackled before a fast descent through San Cassiano and the short uphill finish in Alta Badia.

Stage 15 – Castelrotto to Alpe di Siusi (ITT)

The third and final individual time trial of the 2016 Giro d’Italia will provide the sternest test as far as the battle for the maglia rosa goes.

The opening stage in the Netherlands is pan-flat and just 8.1km in length, while the 40.4km test on stage nine takes place over a rolling course which will suit both the powerhouses of the peloton and the GC men. Stage 15, however, belongs entirely to the climbers.

Though just 10.8km in length, it’s effectively uphill all the way, with the real climbing starting from the 1.8km mark.And when it does start, the punishing 8.4 per cent gradient will hit hard – with some sections reaching into double digit gradients.

While the slopes ease off slightly towards the peak of the Alpe di Siusi, even then the final 800m come an average gradient of 6.8 per cent on a stage which will play a big part in deciding the destination of the maglia rosa.

Stage 19 – Pinerolo to Risoul

Tour de France fans will recognise the Hautes-Alpes ski station of Risoul from the 2014 edition, where Rafal Majka secured a solo victory.

This time, however, it will be the Giro d’Italia peloton tackling the ascent as the Corsa Rosa delivers the first part of fierce double bill at the back end of the race.

Starting out in Italy, in Pinerolo, the peloton will first tackle the Col Agnel – with the Italian side of the ascent amounting to 22.4km of climbing, with an average gradient of 6.5 per cent.

Its 2,744m high peak makes it the Cima Coppi climb for the race too – the highest point reached during the three weeks.

Once over the top and across the French border, it’s a long descent down to Guillestre before the 14km climb to the Risoul ski station, coming with an average gradient of 6.1 per cent. The pained expression on Majka’s face as he crossed the finishing line at Risoul at 2014 Tour tells you all you need to know about the impact this stage could have on the Giro.

Stage 20 – Guillestre to Sant’Anna di Vinadio

The Giro d’Italia’s French detour not only offers the difficult uphill finish at the ski resort of Risoul on stage 19, but also a fearsome mountainous stage back across the border from Guillestre to Sant’Anna di Vinadio a day later.

Four climbs feature in all on the stage, two of them in France, before the border-straddling Colle della Lombarda and the summit finish at Sant’Anna di Vinadio.

First to be tackled is the Col de Vars, but the Col de la Bonette then takes things up a notch, with the 2,715m pass just short of the 2,744m Col Agnel which comes on stage 19.

Race organisers have resisted the urge to take in the Cime de la Bonette, which climbs for another 87m and at 2,802m is the the highest paved through route in the Alps, but the climb from Jausiers still rises 1,589m in 24.1km at an average gradient of 6.6 per cent.

When the climb was last tackled from that side at the Tour de France, British ace Robert Millar was the first man over the top before Tony Rominger won at Isola 2000.

The Giro, however, won’t not be stopping at Isola 2000, passing the ski station on the way to the Colle della Lombarda summit – a 21.2km ascent which kicks up sharply at the foot of the climb and comes with an average gradient of seven per cent.

An eight kilometre descent follows, before the final 2.3km rise to the finish, when the overall destination of the maglia rosa should become known, with only the flat final stage to come.

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