We will grant you that! Venaria Reale and Turin are not exactly new locations for the Grande Partenza. Do not be disappointed though, as the route of the first three days of the Giro d’Italia 2024 is nothing short of revolutionary in terms of design and gradient. The pink caravan will tackle roads that ooze history, prestigious and somewhat tragic, featuring climbs that are steeped in cycling tradition, as is always the case in a legendary race such as the Corsa Rosa. The big news though, is that they will be tackled right from day 1.
Not even a minute to get into the right mood, not even a kilometre to enjoy the landscape, it is sweat time right from the get-go. No time trial, no sprinters’ catwalk as the GC men are immediately called to action in the short but tough Venaria Reale – Turin stage, 136 thrilling km.
The stage will circle around the capital city of Piedmont, in a somewhat softer reinterpretation of the city stage of 2022, one that fans certainly remember as one of the most exciting of that entire edition. This year’s route will also ascend the fascinating Superga hill, on the 75th anniversary of the unforgettable tragedy involving the Grande Torino football team.
At that point, a 28-kilometre loop will begin, featuring the Eremo climb and continuing to Colle Maddalena from the Corso Casale side. This is a 6.1 km climb featuring no extreme slopes (average gradient of 7.4%) but providing plenty of room for attacks. The summit is located at 20 kilometres from the arrival, and some brave riders might even try to outsmart the bunch on the descent; after all, the prize is more than “just” a stage win, it is the leadership symbol, the much-coveted Maglia Rosa.
One would think that, after such a demanding start, things would be back to normal on the second day. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, if possible, the game will become even harder thanks to the first summit finish of this Giro. In the midst of its 150 km, the second stage will take the peloton from San Francesco al Campo to the Sanctuary of Oropa, 25 years after one of Marco Pantani’s most mythical performances. After crossing the Canavese and Biellese areas, the ups and downs will begin with the KOMs of Oasi Zegna and Nelva. The stage, however, will be decided on the slopes leading to the Sanctuary, an 11.8 km climb at 6.2%, perfectly suitable for spicing things up in the general classification.
After two such days the sprinters will rightly begin to claim their space, but the third day is not exactly a walk in the park either. The Novara – Fossano stage, 165 km, features no altimetrical difficulties but the final straight tends upwards, making it rather tough for pure sprinters to fight for glory. The finish line is the same as that of the 2009 GranPiemonte, when Philippe Gilbert – not exactly a sprinter – won thanks to one his landmark attacks.
We often hear the GC men confidently claim that the important thing is to be ready for the third week, or that the condition is on the rise and will be at the top ahead of the final alpine stages. This time, however, such arguments do not apply. This time, one could lose everything in the first 3 days.