One-third through the 2023 Giro d’Italia, there might already be some major hints and clues coming out, but still no certainty about the denouement of the Corsa Rosa. The second race week will provide some clarity in this regard, but be remembered that the riders will shoot their last bullet in the last 7 days, as is customary.
After the first rest day, the race will resume from Emilia-Romagna, leaving southern Italy behind and heading for the Tuscan coast. The 190 kms from Scandiano to Viareggio start with a rollercoaster ride up the Passo delle Radici and the Monteperpoli climbs. The route then levels out over the final 75 kms, which would call for a small bunch sprint. The race will then continue towards Piedmont, taking a lengthy 218-km ride from Camaiore to Tortona – likely a good fit for sprinters. As a matter of fact, the short ascents up the Colla di Boasi and the Passo della Castagnola, in the central part of the stage, shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
The 179 kms from Bra to Rivoli may be trickier and subtler, as the Colle Braida – rising at 6.5% on average, for nearly 11 kms – could actually force a selection. The summit comes 28 kms before the finish, and anybody aiming at winning the stage will most likely play their hand at the top and on the way down. On Friday, May the 19th, the race will have us glued to our screens with a queen stage of 208 kms from Borgofranco d’Ivrea to Crans Montana, crossing over to Switzerland and featuring three major climbs, including the one that will take the riders to the summit finish. The lengthy Gran San Bernardo (34 kms rising at 5.5%, 2,469 metres above sea level – this edition’s Cima Coppi), the gruelling Croix de Coeur (15.4 kms with gradients sitting on 8.8%) and the closing ascent to Crans Montana (13.1 kms with a 7.2% incline) will be a feast for pure climbers.
The following stage, from Sierre to Cassano Magnago, will be played out on Swiss roads for the first 70 kms out of 194. Coming shortly after the start, the Passo del Sempione will be the only topographical impediment. Rising at an average 6.5% gradient for nearly 20 kms, the climb is likely to have a significant impact on the outcome of the stage. If there is quiet in the bunch, the fast wheels may have their chance to shine in a sprint finish. Elseways, they may end up dragging themselves to the line, drained from pushing too hard on such a rough Alpine pass.
The second race week will close off with a 191-km trek from Seregno to Bergamo (a stage homing in a city centre is always a favourite with cycling enthusiasts). After crossing Valcava (10 kms, 9%) and Selvino (10 kms, 5.5%), the peloton will ride through the centre of Bergamo – up the Via Boccola – and will tackle the Roncola (7 kms, 7.7%) at 29 kms out. Just before rolling in to the finish, they will take one final, steep kick up the Via Boccola. I know this bears a close resemblance to the Giro di Lombardia, but it’s actually stage 15 of the 2023 Giro. With the second rest day just around the corner, the riders may want to go all-in.