The stage is hilly at the beginning, and features a first-category summit finish. Over the first 130 km, approaching the volcano, the route features a steady succession of milder and harsher climbs and descents, with straight roads alternating with curvy and twisting stretches. Urban areas are crossed mostly on stone-paved roads, whereas along the route the surface is worn out at points. The final climb (nearly 20 km) begins past Linguaglossa.
The closing climb (18.9 km) ascends along the north-eastern side of the Etna, following a constant succession of hairpins, beside more or less recent lava streams. The mean gradient is 6.6%, with slopes averaging 9% over the last 3 km (and especially around -2,000 m), and topping out at 11% with 1.5 km to go. The home straight (50 m) is on 6.5 m wide asphalt road.