The route of the Giro d’Italia 2024 has been officially unveiled in Trento, which means it is now time for the fans to go wild with comments, predictions, praise and criticism. The first thing that stands out, however, is the change of style, perhaps of philosophy, in the overall design of the 107th edition of the Italian Grand Tour. The last two years, in fact, provided a rather blocked race among the GC men, a circumstance that clashed with the usual frenzy of modern cycling.
One could hide behind cycling’s oldest saying: “the race is made by the riders“, in other words, if the athletes decide to play it all out on the last day, little can be done by the organisers and the parcours. That was the case in 2022, when Jai Hindley and Richard Carapaz waited until the Marmolada to display their potential. And the same script took place in 2023, with Primož Roglič and Geraint Thomas waiting until the Mount Lussari time trial to fully play their cards. Despite, or perhaps because of the significant elevation gain of those editions, the race turned into a sort of wait-and-see competition, a strategy that cost both Carapaz and Thomas dearly.
But this year that cannot be the case, because the previously analysed Grande Partenza will force the strongest riders to come out immediately, thanks to the climb of the Eremo and the Colle Maddalena on the very first day, and the category-one summit finish at Oropa on the second. Then, after a trio of stages theoretically favouring the sprinters, the flat tarmac will then give way to gravel tracks, when sectors of Strade Bianche’s famous white roads (12 km packed into the last 45) will take over the race route in the Viareggio-Rapolano Terme. The next day will offer the 37.2 km Foligno-Perugia time trial, completely flat until the final ascent heading to the Umbrian capital.
Immediately thereafter is the uphill finish at Prati di Tivo (14.6km at 7%), which is likely to force gaps between the GC favourites, and after the now customary show in Naples and the first rest day, the riders will tackle a new high altitude finish at Cusano Mutri (Bocca della Selva), which measures 17.9km at 5.6%. The two expected sprint finishes of Francavilla al Mare and Cento will be separated by the always insidious stage of the Marche walls, with the finish in Fano, after which there will be another 31 km against the clock, from Castiglione delle Stiviere to Desenzano del Garda, completely flat and suitable for the big specialists. Before the rest day, the peloton will head into the Alps on the 220 km tappone to Livigno, with the Forcola di Livigno (18 km at 7.1%) and the Mottolino (8.1 km at 6.6%) to overcome in the finale.
After the break, the race will get back underway with the iconic and mighty Stelvio Pass (Cima Coppi) midway through stage 16 and an uphill finish, although not too complicated, in Santa Cristina Val Gardena. The tough Dolomites crescendo will probably reach its climax on the following day, in a short but very intense stage featuring Passo Sella, Passo Rolle and Passo Gobbera and the doule ascent to Passo Brocon from two different sides, with a 12.2 km 6.4% climb to the finish. The sprinters should smile again in Padua and so should the breakaway specialists in Sappada, which means the showdown will more than likely take place on the 20th stage with the double ascent of Monte Grappa from the extremely steep side of Semonzo (18.2 km at 8.1%), which will bring thousands of fans to its slopes (remember the 2014 time trial?). The next day, after the catwalk in Rome, Primož Roglič’s successor will be crowned.