Who knows whether the route of the Giro d’Italia 2024 put a smile on the sprinters’ faces while it was being unveiled. The altimetry makes the number of bunch sprints rather hard to forecast, as several stages look as suitable for sprinters as they do for breakaways or solo actions. We have counted four certain sprints at worst, nine at best, although, as always, the final verdict will be issued by her Majesty the road.
One thing for sure, it will be highly unlikely to see a sprinter wearing the Maglia Rosa this year. In fact, the Piedmontese Grande Partenza, featuring the Colle Maddalena in the first stage and the Oropa summit finish in the second, will probably send the sprinters straight to bottom of the general classification right from the get-go. The first opportunity of the race for the fast men of the peloton should be brought by Stage 3, the 165-kilometre Novara-Fossano. Let us stick to “should” rather than “will” though, since the final straight happens to feature a false flat section, that same ramp where Philippe Gilbert won the GranPiemonte thanks to one of his landmark attacks. In other words, pure sprinters will have to work extremely hard if they want to go for glory.
Slightly easier, at least on paper, should be the following stage, which will take the riders from Acqui Terme to Andora, on the Ligurian Sea, along the roads of the Milano-Sanremo, for a total of 187 km. Once again, however, the sprinters will not be able to rest assured: in fact, close to the finish line is Capo Mele, which despite posing no major threat in and out of itself given its gentle slopes, could throw a spanner in the works for some of the sprint trains.
Stage 5, the 176 km Genoa-Lucca, can also be put down as one for the sprinters. The only pitfall on the menu is represented by the 4th category KOM of Montemagno, which the peloton will summit just under 20 km from the finish line. Length and gradient, however, should not be too much of a challenge for the contenders for victory. The same riders could also take their chances in the 206-kilometre Avezzano-Napoli, with Via Caracciolo awaiting the sprinters, but the finale is open to various possible outcomes. The 4th-category KOM of Monte Procida followed by the short punchy ramps located between Pozzuoli and Posillipo might turn the last 30km into a tough obstacle for the sprinters.
The most certain sprints will all come in the second part of the Corsa Rosa, confirming a more balanced route spread over the three weeks. Stage 11, the Foiano di Val Fortore – Francavilla al Mare of 203 km, Stage 13, the Riccione-Cento of 179 pan-flat km, and Stage 18, the Fiera di Primiero-Padova of 166 km, are all opportunities for sprinters to rejoice, since none of them has any pitfalls near the finish.
And then, of course, let us not forget the stunning final catwalk in Rome, featuring a route virtually identical to the one that crowned Mark Cavendish last year. 126 km that will touch on some of the most iconic sights in the capital, before the sprint and the massive final party.