Island start for 2007 Giro

The parcours for next year's Giro d'Italia was presented in Milan on Saturday evening. It's a climbe

The parcours for next year's Giro d'Italia was presented in Milan on Saturday evening. It's a climbe
GRAPHIC BY RCS SPORT Next year's Giro d'Italia will kick off on the island of Sardinia with a 24 km team time trial on May 12. The race will travel to the mainland on May 15 and the riders will tackle a hilly parcours over the next two and a half weeks. There are two more time trials - a mountain TT in stage 13 and a flat one on the second last day. Most of the GC action will be in the last half of the race. At the presentation in Milan on Saturday evening, most riders hailed the next Giro as more human than the previous couple of editions. There are still some tough mountain stages - including the super steep Monte Zoncolan - but everything is not concentrated in the final few days, as it has been in the past. That said, the course is quite challenging. Stage by stage The opening three stages will all be on the island of Sardinia. The team time trial starts in Caprera and finishes in La Maddalena 24 km later. This will be a fast stage suiting the powerhouse teams such as CSC, Discovery Channel and T-Mobile, and could secure the maglia rosa in one team's camp for a few days. Stage 2 takes the riders across the hilly top part of the island from Tempio Pausania to Bosa over 203 km, while stage 3 is a flatter 195 km from Barumini to Cagliari. Day 4 is a rest day as the riders transfer to Salerno via ferry. The chance of a sprinter wearing the maglia rosa in the first week looks slim. Stage 4, from Salerno to Montevergine Di Mercogliano, is the first mountain top finish of the Giro and finishes with a 17 km climb at 5% average gradient. This stage will show who's got the right form very early on. Stage 5 between Teano and Frascati (172 km) is one for the sprinters, then another hilly one awaits the peloton in stage 6 from Tivoli to Spoleto. But the Monte Terminillo (21 km at 6.6%) is quite early in the stage, and should not affect the GC. There are a couple of smaller climbs afterwards, meaning that the sprinters will have to be lucky to make it to Spoleto in the front group. The Giro continues north with stage 7 from Spoleto to Scarperia - the longest of the race at 239 km. That's followed by a 194 km leg between Barberino Di Mugello and Fiorano Modenese, and a 182 km stage 9 from Reggio dell'Emilia to Lido Di Camaiore. None of these stages are particularly flat, meaning that the sprinters will really have to work for their glory in the first 10 days. The mountains get tougher Stage 10 from Lido Di Camaiore to Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia is long at 230 km and also has a sting in its tail. It's the second mountain top finish in the race and the last climb is 9 km long and averages a nasty 7.8%, with a maximum of 14% near the top. At this point in the race, the GC riders will certainly be tested. Stage 11 starts in Serravalle Scrivia and ends in Pinerolo, with the last third of the 192 km stage gradually uphill. The mountains return in stage 12 as the riders go across from Scalenghe into Brianon (France). The stage is 163 km long, and contains the monstrous Colle dell'Agnello (21.4 km at 6.6%, 2744m altitude) followed by the Col d'Izoard (14.1 km at 7.1%, 2360m altitude). The stage will be decided in Brianon after dropping off the Izoard. The next morning, it will be the GC riders under pressure again with the stage 13 mountain time trial from Biella to Santuario Di Oropa. This is 13 km of suffering, averaging 5.5% in all. But the last half of the climb is closer to 7% average gradient. Stage 14 is no easy one either. It's 181 km from Cant to Paolo Savoldelli's home town of Bergamo, and the Passo di San Marco is slap bang in the middle. This is another monster climb: 26.1 km long averaging 6.7%. There's also the Colle San Gallo with around 30 km to go, which could be enough for a breakaway to go clear. But wait, there's more. The Giro's seemingly interminable middle section concludes with stage 15 from Trento to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo. Yes, it's another mountain stage, going via the Passo di San Pellegrino (11.6 km at 6.4%), the nasty Passo Giau (9.8 km at 9.4%) and finishing on Tre Cime Di Lavaredo. As its name indicates, it's a climb done in three sections, totalling 21 km. The last 4 km averages 12.2% and will be a brutal finish to a very tough first two weeks. The Zoncolan returns The riders will take a well earned rest day on May 28 before tackling the final six stages. Stage 16 is between Agordo (Dolomiti Stars) and Linz (Austria), and features the Passo di Campolongo early on. The GC riders might rest their legs today, as stage 17 features the mighty Monte Zoncolan. The 146 km stage starts in Linz and passes over the Passo di Monte Croce di Comelico (1636m), before descending to Ovaro (530m), the base of the final climb. Zoncolan is 10.1 km long and averages an extreme 11.9%. The middle 6 km is almost 15% average with the steepest parts measured at 22%. It's considered one of Italy's toughest climbs as a result. Zoncolan will be the last difficult mountain stage, and if there are any sprinters left, they will enjoy the flat 18th stage between Udine and Riese Pio X. Stage 19 from Treviso to Comano Terme is hilly, but not ridiculously so, and most of the GC riders will be looking to Saturday's final time trial. The 20th stage between Bardolino and Verona is a flat, 42 km race against the clock, but by this stage, the classification should be wrapped up. The Giro will roll into Milan on Sunday, June 3 with a 181 km stage starting in Vestone. This is nearly always a sprinters' showcase, and those who have survived will feel like they deserve something. The 2007 Giro is definitely one for the mountain goats. Stage list Stage 1: Saturday May 12 - Caprera - La Maddalena (TTT) (24 km) Stage 2: Sunday May 13 - Tempio Pausania - Bosa (203 km) Stage 3: Monday May 14 - Barumini - Cagliari (195 km) Rest Day: Tuesday May 15 Stage 4: Wednesday May 16 - Salerno - Montevergine Di Mercogliano (158 km) Stage 5: Thursday May 17 - Teano - Frascati (172 km) Stage 6: Friday May 18 - Tivoli - Spoleto (181 km) Stage 7: Saturday May 19 - Spoleto - Scarperia (239 km) Stage 8: Sunday May 20 - Barberino Di Mugello - Fiorano Modenese (194 km) Stage 9: Monday May 21 - Reggio Nell'Emilia - Lido Di Camaiore (182 km) Stage 10: Tuesday May 22 - Lido Di Camaiore - Santuario Nostra Signora Della Guardia (230 km) Stage 11: Wednesday May 23 - Serravalle Scrivia - Pinerolo (192 km) Stage 12: Thursday May 24 - Scalenghe - Brianon (France) (163 km) Stage 13: Friday May 25 - Biella - Santuario Di Oropa (ITT) (13 km) Stage 14: Saturday May 26 - Cantu' - Bergamo (181 km) Stage 15: Sunday May 27 - Trento - Tre Cime Di Lavaredo (190 km) Rest Day: Monday May 28 Stage 16: Tuesday May 29 - Agordo (Dolomiti Stars) - Lienz (Austria) (196 km) Stage 17: Wednesday May 30 - Lienz (Austria) - Monte Zoncolan (146 km) Stage 18: Thursday May 31 - Udine - Riese Pio X (182 km) Stage 19: Friday June 1 - Treviso - Comano Terme (178 km) Stage 20: Saturday June 2 - Bardolino - Verona (ITT) (42 km) Stage 21: Sunday June 3 - Vestone - Milano (181 km)

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