2023 saw 10 attacks from afar, 2022 another 10, and 2021 gave us no fewer than 11. In other words, in the last three editions of the Giro d’Italia, around half of the stages ended with the success of a rider who was part of an early breakaway, a rather significant percentage. Yet, if the stages for sprinters, classics chasers or climbers are easily identifiable, the “breakaway” stages are much less clear and require careful contextualization. All stages (except time trials of course) are, in one way or another, suitable for a breakaway, so let’s try to speculate which fractions of the Giro d’Italia 2024 could smile on a small group of attackers or even a brave solo action.
Let us begin at the beginning! If the first stage, the 136-kilometre Venaria Reale-Turin, had been placed a little further on in the competition, it would have provided the ideal route for a breakaway, being too hard for the sprinters and too easy for GC men. However, with the first Maglia Rosa up for grabs, the big names are unlikely to miss out. The same goes for Stage 2 and its summit finish in Oropa, with the still fresh riders eager to fight for victory on such a prestigious arrival.
The first real chance for early attackers could come in Stage 6, from Viareggio to Rapolano Terme, thanks to the 12 km of white gravel roads that the riders will have to tackle. This is exactly the type of stage that breakaway enthusiasts should keep their eyes on, being it remarkably difficult to interpret and therefore rather unsuitable for pre-planned strategies. Also the 206-kilometre Avezzano-Neaples provides a good springboard for brave attackers to upset the fast men, since both the length of the stage and the final series of short punchy climbs could weaken the peloton’s chase.
Speaking of mixed routes, a breakaway also stands a good chance of success in the stage of the Marche walls, the 183km Martinsicuro-Fano, which comes after 13 days of racing and features several punchy ascents to contend with. Another perfect profile for a breakaway is Stage 19, the 154km Mortegliano-Sappada. The route is not tough enough for the GC men to make a difference and, above all, it comes on the eve of the stage featuring two climbs of Monte Grappa. Of all the 21 stages, this is the one with the highest odds for a victorious finish by a breakaway.
History has taught us multiple times that even the great mountain stages often end with a breakaway rider raising his arms to the sky. Therefore, Prati di Tivo, Cusano Mutri, Livigno, Santa Cristina Valgardena, Passo Brocon and Bassano del Grappa – which will host the arrivals of the stages in which the big GC names will most likely face off – might well give us a successful breakaway hero, probably a great climber or a big name no longer in the fight for pink. Bottom line: fun guaranteed!