News: Tough Tour of Italy to Start in Belfast

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A varied and interesting route says Ireland’s Nicolas Roche as Tour of Italy starts in Belfast and races to Dublin before heading home

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2014_TourofItaly

The first of the 2014 Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia, will spend three days in Ireland starting on Friday, May 9 before finishing on June 1st in Trieste. The always spectacular Team Time Trial opens precedings around Belfast before two road stages take the race south to Dublin. Like the Tour of Spain this year, summit finishes abound which will mean the overall favours a climber who can ‘TT’ a bit.

In Summary
2 Individual Time-Trial Stages
1 Team Time Trial Stage
8 Stages For Sprinters
1 Medium Mountain Stage
4 Medium Mountain Stages With Summit Finish
5 Stages In High Mountains With An Uphill Finish

A key test in the second week sees stage 12, a time trial from Barbaresco to Barolo. The 46.4km race against the clock should shake up the GC whilst stage 18 sees the riders tackle the steep ramps of Malga Panarotta in the Trentino region. The race also takes another crack at the Val Martello after having to be cut from the 2013 edition due to snow.

A mountain time trial from Bassano del Grappa to Monte Grappa will give both the time trialist and climber something to smile about whilst Stage 20 sees a summit finish from hell on the infamous Monte Zoncolan. It’s only the fifth time the climb has been used.

2013_NicolasRoche

Saxo-Tinkoff’s Nicolas Roche from Ireland (pictured in the leader’s jersey in the Tour of Spain), son of former winner Stephen Roche, is pleased with the route. “I think it’s great. I know that people have been working very hard for many years to get the Giro to the two countries so I think it’s really exciting”.

“It’s a huge achievement for the people involved and for both countries to host this fantastic cycling event. For the cycling fans in both countries, it’s going to be a unique experience” added Roche.

Talking about the course, the rider who had an excellent Tour of Spain in 2013, explained “I think it’s an interesting course as it varies a lot. With one flat time trial, a mountain time trial and a team time trial mixed with the usual mountain top finishes, you’ll have to be able to be good at everything to win the race.”

“The sprinters will have their chance to shine as well while the toughest part of the course is in the final week” says Roche.

2013_NibaliGiro

For the defending champion, Vincenzo Nibali (above), there are conflicting reports on whether he’ll defend his title in the race. “I can’t say if I’ll ride or not at the moment because we haven’t decided my race programme for next season” he told the press. “Things will be decided during the first team get together, so that I know the early season races I’ll be riding. After that we’ll decide things for the Grand Tours.”

“If I decide to ride the Giro, I’d go for the general classification,” he said. “I’ve often done two Grand Tours in the same season and I did the Giro and Vuelta this year. This year I started the season strong, missed the Tour and then was strong in the Vuelta and end of the season. But that’s easier to do because there’s more time to recover. Riding the Giro and then the Tour with the goal of winning both is difficult.”

“It’s a good route and it’s open to different and sudden changes in the race leadership. There are some possible pitfalls in the first week, while the final week is the most difficult. The 47km time trial will be vital. The Monte Grappa mountain time trial will be tough too. It’s not an easy route.”

Ivan Basso during the 2011 Tour de France

Another Italian star, Ivan Basso (above) says “It’s a balanced Tour with races against the watch and the big mountains. The climbs as always are the most important in the final week. During that third week, it will be who has the legs who can make a difference but the winner will also need to be good tactically”. Another Italian star of the race Filippo Pozzato meanwhile admits “the Giro is my absolute favorite. There are only a couple of stages for me but I hope to be there.”

Cadel Evans told AFP: “It’s not as concentrated as previous editions, but they are certainly not easy stages. You go into the last week already with some stages with a lot of climbs in your legs, not necessarily in the high mountains, but they are difficult. At this point we have to look at Nibali (as the favourite), but experience will help guys like Ivan (Basso) and myself.”

Stage by Stage – 2014 Giro d’Italia – Starts May 9
1. Belfast – Belfast TTT, 21.7km
2. Belfast – Belfast, 218km
3. Armagh – Dublin, 187km
TRANSFER
4. Giovinazzo to Bari, 121km
5. Taranto – Viggiano, 200km
6. Sassano – Montecassino, 247km
7. Frosinone – Foligno, 214km
8. Foligno – Montecopiolo, 174km
9. Lugo – Sestola, 174km
REST DAY
10. Modena – Salsomaggiore Terme, 184km
11. Collecchio – Savona, 249km
12. Barbaresco – Barolo TT, 46.4km
13. Fossano – Rivarolo Canavese, 158km
14. Agli̬ РOropa, 162km
15. Valdengo – Plan di Montecampione, 217km
REST DAY
16. Pontedilegno – Val Martello, 139km
17. Sarnonico – Vittorio Veneto, 204km
18. Belluno – Rifugio Panarotta, 171km
19. Bassano del Grappa – Monte Grappa TT, 26.8km
20. Maniago – Monte Zoncolan, 167km
21. Gemona del Friuli – Trieste, 169km
Finishes June 1st

 

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