WHITEY’S GIRO ROUTE REVIEW: “The Giro is very traditional in that it is always tail heavy”

Wed 31 Oct 2018

The 2019 Giro d’Italia course was revealed today in Milan and, despite three time trials, they presented a reasonably traditional Giro route. We spoke to head sport director Matt White to get his thoughts: 

The 2019 Giro d’Italia will cover 3518.5km across its 21 stages, with 58km of time trialling split between three stages.  The all-Italian route, crossing to the republic of San Marino for one stage finish will begin in Bologna and finish in Verona. 

Whitey: “It looks like a pretty traditional Giro route to me, but again the devil is always in the details for the final kilometres on the stages.”

“The Giro is usually always longer because they don’t do as many shorter stages as some of the trend is going, and they always throw in some really long days. The thing that does make the Giro some unpredictable is the weather – it could be 30degrees and sun one day, and snowing the next.”

Softer start:
The first ten days of racing will feature two time trials, six sprint opportunities and two lumpier stages that may not suit the pure sprinters, but don’t offer any major climbing challenges. We will have to be patient for the real general classification battle to begin. 

Whitey: “It’s a pretty soft first ten days. There’s actually no tough climbing until the second half of the race which is not normal for the Giro, usually they thrown in a surprise or two to shake the apple cart as early as stage two or three.

“The majority of the sprint stages are in the first section of the race, but besides the first two time trials that bookend the first 10 days, for the general classification guys it looks like it will be a pretty quiet period.”

The second half Climbing Galore:
Giro organisers claim that with 46,500m of total elevation, the 102nd edition will be one of the hardest routes of recent years. And, most of thast comes packed neatly into the second half of racing.  Despite the undisputed difficulty, the race only reaches over 2000m on three occasions -  the highest point the Gavia Pass which comes on a brutal 226km stage 16 that features a total of 5700m of climbing.

Whitey: “The Giro is very traditional in that it is always tail heavy because we always finish in northern Italy so there’s no surprises there. The second half, there’s some bloody tough days when you’re looking at 4000 and 5000+m of climbing.  

“There’s some climbs we know and it’s great to see some traditional climbs back in there again, and there’s some climbs we don’t know. But regardless, that last half of the race, it’s really tough.  

“There’s actually a lot more high-altitude climbs in the Tour de France this year than the Giro, and that’s not normal. Next year we aren’t going super high too many times, but that doesn’t take away from the toughness of the climbs and there are a lot of stages in the Giro that have more climbing metres than the Tour.

“And, you’re always in the hands of the gods with the weather in that part of the world at that time of year. We’ve had Giros in the last couple of years that haven’t had a drop of rain for three weeks and others where is quite easy to see stages cancelled with the snow.” 

Three times the time trial fun:
The 2019 Giro d’Italia will be opened and closed with a time trial, with a third test against the clock on stage 9.  In total, we will see 58.2km of time trialling, but each of the three tests involve some climbing metres which will limit the amount of damage the pure time triallist can make. 

Whitey: “There’s almost 60km of time trialling, but the time trials are really well balanced. That’s more kilometres than this year, but all three of them are hilly.  Obviously, the last stage is the least hilly, but there is a climb there and when you climb that does favour the non-TT specialists because the specialists can’t make the same time difference.

“The first day, there won’t be too many time gains, the stage 9 is a nice one with the biggest question around a bike change or not with 20-odd kilometres of flat and 12-14km of climbing, and then the last stage in Verona.”

Photo courtesy of Kristof Ramon.