Giro d'Italia guide

Last Updated: 03/05/13 12:10pm

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The Giro d'Italia is the first Grand Tour of the season

The Giro d'Italia is the first Grand Tour of the season

Sir Bradley Wiggins will look to add a second Grand Tour title to the Tour de France crown he won last summer when he challenges for overall victory at the Giro d'Italia.

The 33-year-old Briton has been named as Team Sky's leader for the three-week race and will be supported by a squad packed with climbing talent.

This year's race is less mountainous than previous editions, with emphasis instead being placed on Wiggins's specialist discipline of time-trials, of which there are three.

The four-time Olympic gold medal-winner will not have it all his own way, though, as home favourite Vincenzo Nibali and reigning champion Ryder Hesjedal are both poised to battle him tooth and nail for the title.

The race includes six summit finishes, including one on the Col du Galibier in France and another on the legendary climb to Tre Cime di Lavaredo on the race's queen stage.

Sky Sports will be screening daily highlights throughout the race. See schedules below

Stages

Stage 1: Saturday, May 4 - Naples to Naples, 130km

For the first time in 10 years, the race begins with a road stage as the sprinters get the chance to fight it out for the first opportunity to don the maglia rosa. The entirety of the action takes place on the Napoli seafront, with the 156km test split into two distinct circuits. After heading away from the Piazza Plebiscito, the riders head for four passages of the 16.3km Circuito Lungo. Each time around, the field will tackle the fourth-category climb on the Via Francesco Petrarca, with the second and third climbs offering points in the early fight for the green mountains jersey. Things tighten up heading towards the finale for eight pan-flat laps of the 8km Circuito Corto. A nailed-on bunch sprint guarantees a thrilling fight for pink.

Highlights: 7.30pm-9pm, Sky Sports 3

Stage 2: Sunday, May 5 - Ischia to Forio, 17.4km team time trial

The race strays away from the mainland briefly for a showpiece team time trial on the island of Ischia. A relatively short test, it will be important to not lose too much time ahead of more significant stages to come. Wind could play a factor as the route heads along the coast, with the terrain undulating gradually either side of the intermediate time check in Casamicciola Terme. The route juts inland at Lacco Ameno, cutting off the north-west corner of the island, before looping down to the finish in Forio. The stage could see the jersey change hands, but time gaps are not expected to be significant.

Highlights: 10pm-11.30pm, Sky Sports 2

Stage 3: Monday, May 6 - Sorrento to Marina di Ascea, 222km

The race makes its first foray into the medium mountains with an interesting stage that will see the result on a knife-edge as the sprinters fight to stay in the game. The majority of the action is confined to a final 40km stretch that sees the peloton tackle two climbs. Another day spent hugging the coast on the run down to the foot of the country, the first major challenge arrives in the form of the second-category San Mauro Cilento (153km). The race turns inland for a second time for the final climb of the Sella di Cantona. The third-category ascent could cause problems for the sprinters given that it is situated so close to the finish. A tense chase back on the descent into Ascea should set up an exciting finish.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 4: Tuesday, May 7 - Policastro Bussentino to Serra San Bruno, 246km

The longest stage of the race sends the riders to the most southerly point of the Giro as the action kicks up a notch in Calabria. Another day glued largely to the coast of the Med, the stage is back-loaded with tough terrain after a day spent largely on the flat. The stage will spark into life at Vibo Valentia (206.8km) for a third-category climb that could act as a handy springboard ahead of the finale. The road kicks up again at Soriano Calabro for the second-category Croce Ferrata. Whoever hits the top first will have just short of 7km to dig in on the slight downhill run into the hilltop town of Serra San Bruno.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 5: Wednesday, May 8 - Cosenza to Matera, 203km

Rarely do the sprinters have it easy and stage five at the Giro is no exception as, once again, the finale looks to spice things up. It will all come down to who has the legs in a stage ending that features both a category-four climb and an unclassified drag up to the line in Matera. Kicking off from Cosenza, a slight downhill gradient should see a breakaway push clear ahead of the Cant San Salvatore (44.8km) climb. From there, the stage is pan flat as the race moves back north up the coast through Villapiana Lido and Rocca Imperiale. Moving inland, there will no doubt be attacks on the brief 309m Montescaglioso ascent. The test doesn't end there, as the road kicks up again into Matera to set up a fight between the puncheurs and in-form sprinters.

Highlights: 8.30pm-10pm, Sky Sports 3

Stage 6: Thursday, May 9 - Mola di Bari to Margherita di Savoia, 169km

A stage that every sprinter will have circled in their roadbooks, day six removes all complications in a drag race between the lead-out trains. Kicking off in Mola di Bari, the race again sticks to the coast, passing through Bari as the sprint teams look to keep tabs on the breakaway. The men up front should soak up the points at a pair of sprints in Trani (64.9km) and Barletta (76.4km), before the race arrives at the finishing circuit. Margherita di Savoia will host the finish and two laps of the 16.6km Circuito Delle Saline. One of only a few chances in the race to fight it out, the sprinters will need to make the most of this opportunity.

Highlights: 10pm-11.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 7: Friday, May 10 - San Salvo to Pescara, 177km

Despite never rising above 484m, the sight of a saw-tooth stage profile signals a brutally tough day out. Four categorised climbs don't tell the full story, as beyond the 40km mark there is barely a moment of flat terrain. The result will be a hard stage for whichever team is looking to defend pink as the race heads into Abruzzo. Riders looking to win the race will have to be vigilant and stay to the fore as every small but steep ramp has the potential to spawn a decisive attack. Villamagna (121.5km) marks the first of the categorised ascents as the race criss-crosses the cycling hotbed. The stage could go to a breakaway and the strongest will prevail after the final climb at San Silvestro.

Highlights: 9.30pm-11pm, Sky Sports 3

Stage 8: Saturday, May 11 - Gabicce Mare to Saltara, 54.8km individual time trial

The second week kicks off with one of the most important stages of the race as the overall contenders go head to head in a hefty time trial. The 55km run is deceptive, with a number of undulations and a very twisty start following the ramp in Gabicce Mare. Things begin to straighten out following the time check in Pesaro (26km), but the crests and falls remain, notably the ramp up to Novilara. One final time check in Calcinelli should give a real indicator ahead of a final drag up to the finish in Saltara. Surprisingly early in the race for such a pivotal stage, the end result should see gaps open out in the general classification and set the agenda heading into the final two weeks of racing.

Highlights: 8pm-9.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 9: Sunday, May 12 - Sansepolcro to Florence, 170km

The riders have one last effort to put in before the first rest day, but it is not an easy one. A 181km medium-mountain stage containing four categorised climbs awaits. The opening 65km are gentle enough, but the road then starts to get lumpy as the riders are taken over the category-two Passo della Consuma, after 82km, and then the category-one Vallombrosa, after 107km. Two more climbs - 22km and 11km from the line - will either help a breakaway stay clear or see the field whittled down ahead of a small rise up to the finish line in Florence.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 10: Tuesday, May 14 - Cordenons to Altopiano del Montasio, 167km

The race moves to the north-east of Italy and into the high mountains for the first time. A 167km route skirting Udine takes in two category-one climbs and offers up the race's first true summit finish, which is almost certain to give the general classification another shake-up. The route is relatively gentle for the first 90km, but then the road rises up to scale the Passo Cason di Lanza, which summits at 117km after a 15km climb that reaches a stinging maximum gradient of 16 per cent. A straightforward descent gives the legs a breather before the long, 22km drag up to the finish line at Altopiano del Montasio.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 11: Wednesday, May 15 - Tarvisio (Cave del Predil) to Vajont 1963/2013 (Erto e Casso), 182km

The race remains in north-east Italy for the start of stage 11 but then heads west on a route that is largely downhill apart from a pair category-two climbs at 120km and then the finish line. An opening 70km of gentle downhill will likely see a breakaway dart clear, but the general classification contenders will be more concerned about marking moves on the long climb to Sella Ciampigotto. The summit is still 60km from the finish line, but riders high up the standings are unlikely to be given any leeway. The road then drops back down ahead of the short, sharp climb to the finish line.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 12: Thursday, May 16 - Longarone to Treviso, 134km

The sprinters return to the fore for a short stage that the GC contenders could well view as an unofficial rest day. Apart from a couple of minor climbs at 11km, 57km and 93km, the day offers up very few obstacles and is almost certain to finish in a bunch sprint.

Highlights: 11.30pm-1am, Sky Sports 4

Stage 13: Friday, May 13 - Busseto to Cherasco, 254km

The race moves to the north-west of Italy for another flat stage, albeit this time almost twice as long as the day before, with the 242km distance being the second-furthest of the race. The parcours is pan-flat for 150km and the only rise in the road of any significance is the category-three cimb of Tre Cuni after 217km. The last 20km undulate, but the inclines aren't testing enough to deter the sprinters' teams setting up a bunch finish.

Highlights: 6.30pm-8pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 14: Saturday, May 18 - Cervere to Bardonecchia (Jaffereau), 168km

The race returns to the high mountains for the first of two back-to-back summit finishes ahead of the second rest day. A 156km route starts with 70km of flat before the riders are sent up the long climb to the ski resort of Sestriere, which tops out at 125km. The GC contenders are likely to save their attacks, however, because after a sharp descent back down into the Susa Valley, they have to climb back up, first to Bardonecchia, and then further still to the finish line at Jafferau. It's not the longest or steepest of Italy's climbs, but legs tired from two weeks of racing will nevertheless find the going tough and gaps could be opened up.

Highlights: 10.30pm-midnight, Sky Sports 4

Stage 15: Sunday, May 20 - Cesana Torinese to Col du Galibier, 149km

Before the second rest day can be enjoyed, the riders are thrown straight back into the high mountains for another brutal stage with a summit finish. After leaving Italy behind and crossing the border into France, the peloton will tackle three categorised climbs, two of which are iconic and regular fixtures in the Tour de France. First up is the category-one Col du Mont Cenis, which although relatively gentle in gradient, drags on for almost 26km. The road then drops back down before entering deep into Tour country with ascents of the category-two Col du Telegraphe (summit at 126km) and then the Col du Galibier, where the finish line waits after 18km of climbing at an average of 6.9 per cent. The race won't be won on these two climbs, but for some it will be where it is lost. Those who are still in sight of victory after this stage will be the ones who challenge for overall victory in Brescia a week later.

Highlights: 7pm-8.25pm, Sky Sports 2

Stage 16: Tuesday, May 21 - Valloire to Ivrea, 238km

The riders return to action after the second rest day but are given no chance to ease themselves back in gently. Instead, they are faced with a medium-mountain stage containing two categorised climbs that starts with a frantic descent of the Col du Telegraphe. The road then rises back up over the category-one Col du Montcenis, which summits after 68km, before tackling a fast and winding descent back onto Italian soil as the route swings east towards Turin. The riders get a breather with 110km of flat road, but the category-three climb to Andrate is waiting 17.5km from the line. The breakaway is unlikely to survive the long section of flat, so the winner could well come from a reduced-bunch sprint.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 17: Wednesday, May 22 - Caravaggio to Vicenza, 214km

The general classification contenders get a chance to take it easy as a flat stage moves the emphasis on to the sprinters. The race heads east on a 203km route that passes Brescia and Verona before reaching its climax in Vicenza. There is a complication, however, as the category-four Crosara climb looms just 17km from the finish. If enough riders can break clear of the peloton on its slopes and work together on the run the line, there is potential for a reduced-bunch sprint finish. Otherwise, the day will end in a mass sprint.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 18: Thursday, May 23 - Mori to Polsa, 20.6km individual time trial

The race will be decided over three critical days in the hills, with Thursday's mountain time trial being followed by back-to-back summit finishes. The time trial offers a major opportunity for general classification contenders to make significant gains on their rivals, with the course climbing for 19.4km up a consistently testing gradient that reaches its maximum at 10 per cent. The road is riddled with hairpin bends as the route twists and turns its way out of Mori and up the hillside towards Polsa. The likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins will look to create gaps to their rivals here to give themselves something to defend in the remaining mountain stages.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 19: Friday, May 24 - Ponte di Legno to Val Martello, 139km

The first of the back-to-back summit finishes comes on a brutally hilly yet stunningly picturesque 19th stage. The day is actually a relatively short one, at 139m, but there is hardly any flat road as the parcours takes the riders over three epic climbs. First up is the Passo Gavia (17.4km long, average gradient 7.9 per cent, maximum gradient 16 per cent) which tops out at 23km, after which the riders dash down to the ski resort of Bormio, before rearing back up to tackle the legendary Passo di Stelvio (21.3km long, average gradient 7.1 per cent), which summits at 70km. Descending skills will then be tested to their limit on the iconic switchbacks of the eastern flank of the Stelvio, before it is time for the climb to the summit finish at Val Martello (22.4km long, average 6.1 per cent). In total, the day carries a backbreaking total of 4,300m of climbing.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 20: Saturday, May 25 - Silandro/Schlanders to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, 203km

The race's queen and potentially decisive stage takes the riders on another spectacular parcours through the Dolomites, albeit over a much longer, 203km distance. This time there are five climbs to negotiate, with the first two being the category-two Passo Costalunga at 90km and the category-two Passo di San Pellegrino at 117km. Both of those are just warm-ups, though, ahead of a monstrous final 55km that kicks off with the category-one Passo Giau (10.4km long, average gradient 9.1 per cent). The road dips down to the ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo, before rearing back up to the category-two Passo Tre Corci at 189km and then the summit finish at the dramatic Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The first to the top here could well also be on the top step of the podium in Brescia.

Highlights: 9pm-10.30pm, Sky Sports 4

Stage 21: Sunday, May 26 - Riese Pio X to Brescia, 197km

The race's final stage should be processional as far as the general classification is concerned, with a pan-flat route offering up no opportunity for meaningful attacks. That will bring the sprinters back to the fore, with the stage ending in seven 4.2km laps of Brescia and a dash to the finish line.

Highlights: 7pm-8.30pm, Sky Sports 1

Teams and riders

Ag2r-La Mondiale: Davide Appollonio (Ita), Manuel Belletti (Ita), Julien Berard (Fra), Carlos Betancur (Col), Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra), Hubert Dupont (Fra), Ben Gastauer (Ned), Sylvain Georges (Fra), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita).

Androni-Venezuela: Franco Pellizotti (Ita), Emanuele Sella (Ita), Giairo Ermeti (Ita), Fabio Felline (Ita), Mattia Gavazzi (Ita), Diego Rosa (Ita), Tomas Gil (Ven), Jackson Rodriguez (Ven), Miguel Angel Rubiano (Col).

Argos-Shimano: Bert de Backer (Bel), Thomas Damuseau (Fra), John Degenkolb (Ger), Patrick Gretsch (Ger), Cheng Ji (Chn), Koen de Kort (Ned), Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe), Luka Mezgec (Slo), Albert Timmer (Ned).

Astana: Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Andrey Zeits (KAZ), Paolo Tiralongo (Ita), Valerio Agnoli (Ita), Dmitri Gruzdev (Ita), Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe), Fabio Aru (Ita), Tanel Kangert (Est), Alessandro Vanotti (Ita).

Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox: Sacha Modolo (Ita), Stefano Pirazzi (Ita), Enrico Battaglin (Ita), Nicola Boem (Ita), Francesco Bongiorno (Ita), Sonny Colbrelli (Ita), Marco Canola (Ita), Stefano Locatelli (Ita), Edoardo Zardini (Ita).

Blanco: Robert Gesink (Ned), Steven Kruijswijk (Ned), Wilco Kelderman (Ned), Stef Clement (Ned), Jack Bobridge (Aus), Juanma Garate (Spa), Paul Martens (Ger), Maarten Tjallingii (Ned), Maarten Wynants (Bel).

BMC: Adam Blythe (GB), Steve Cummings (GB), Cadel Evans (Aus), Klaas Lodewyck (Bel), Steve Morabito (Swi), Daniel Oss (Ita), Taylor Phinney (USA), Ivan Santaromita (Ita), Danilo Wyss (Swi).

Cannondale: Ivan Basso (Ita), Elia Viviani (Ita), Cameron Wurf (Aus), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita), Paolo Longho Borghini (Ita), Fabio Sabatini (Ita), Alan Marangoni (Ita), Cristiano Salerno (Ita), Jose Sarmiento (Col).

Colombia: Darwin Atapuma (Col), Edwin Avila (Col), Robinson Chalapud (Col), Fabio Duarte (Col), Leonardo Duque (Col), Wilson Marentes (Col), Dalivier Ospina (Col), Jarlinson Pantano (Col), Carlos Quintero (Col).

Previous winners

  • 2012: Ryder Hesjedal (Can)
  • 2011: Michele Scarponi (Ita)
  • 2010: Ivan Basso (Ita)
  • 2009: Denis Menchov (Rus)
  • 2008: Alberto Contador (Spa)
  • 2007: Danilo Di Luca (Ita)
  • 2006: Ivan Basso (Ita)
  • 2005: Paolo Savoldelli (Ita)
  • 2004: Damiano Cunego (Ita)
  • 2003: Gilberto Simoni (Ita)

Euskaltel-Euskadi: Samuel Sanchez (Spa), Egoi Martinez (Spa), Jorge Azanza (Spa), Pablo Urtasun (Spa), Gorka Verdugo (Spa), Miguel Minguez (Spa), Ricardo Mestre (Por), Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre), Robert Vrecer (Slo).

FDJ: Nacer Bouhanni (Fra), Sandy Casar (Fra), Murilo Fischer (Bra), Arnold Jeannesson (Fra), Johan Le Bon (Fra), Francis Mourey (Fra), Laurent Pichon (Fra), Anthony Roux (Fra), Jussi Veikkanen (Fin).

Garmin Sharp: Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Thomas Dekker (Ned), Peter Stetina (USA), Alex Howes (USA), Christian Vande Velde (USA), Tom Danielson (USA), Nathan Haas (Aus), Robbie Hunter (RSA).

Katusha: Maxim Belkov (Rus), Pavel Brutt (Rus), Giampaolo Caruso (Ita), Vladimir Gusev (Rus), Petr Ignatenko (Rus), Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus), Luca Paolini (Ita), Yuri Trofimov (Rus), Angel Vicioso (Spa).

Lampre-Merida: Mattia Cattaneo (Ita), Kristijan Durasek (Cro), Roberto Ferrari (Ita), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol), Daniele Pietropolli (Ita), Filippo Pozzato (Ita), Michele Scarponi (Ita), Jose Serpa (Col), Simone Stortoni (Ita).

Lotto-Belisol: Lars Bak (Den), Dirk Bellemakers (Ned), Francis De Greef (Bel), Kenny Dehaes (Bel), Gert Dockx (Bel), Adam Hansen (Aus), Olivier Kaisen (Bel), Tim Wellens (Bel), Frederik Willems (Bel).

Movistar: José Herrada (Spa), Beñat Intxausti (Spa), Pablo Lastras (Spa), Fran Ventoso (Spa), Juan Jose Cobo (Spa), Eros Capecchi (Ita), Giovanni Visconti (Ita), Alex Dowsett (GB), Vladimir Karpets (Rus).

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step: Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Mark Cavendish (GB), Michal Golas (Pol), Iljo Keisse (Bel), Serge Pauwels (Bel), Jerome Pineau (Fra), Gert Steegmans (Bel), Matteo Trentin (Ita), Julien Vermote (Bel).

Orica-GreenEDGE: Brett Lancaster (Aus), Christian Meier (Can), Jens Keukeleire (Bel), Jens Mouris (Ned), Leigh Howard (Aus), Luke Durbridge (Aus), Matt Goss (Aus), Pieter Weening (Ned), Svein Tuft (Can).

RadioShack-Leopard: George Bennett (NZ), Danilo Hondo (Ger), Robert Ki¿erlovski (Cro), Tiago Machado (Por), Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita), Nelson Oliveira (Por), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Hayden Roulston (NZ), Jesse Sergent (NZ).

Saxo-Tinkoff: Rory Sutherland (Australia), Mads Christensen (Den), Matti Breschel (Den), Karsten Kroon (Ned), Daniele Bennati (Ita), Manuele Boaro (Ita), Rafal Majka (Pol), Bruno Pires (Por), Evgeny Petrov (Rus).

Team Sky: Bradley Wiggins (GB), Sergio Henao (Col), Rigoberto Uran (Col), Dario Cataldo (Ita), Salvatore Puccio (Ita), Danny Pate (USA), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr), Christian Knees (Ger), Xabier Zandio (Spa).

Vacansoleil-DCM: Grega Bole (Slo), Martijn Keizer (Ned), Maurits Lammertink (Ned), Pim Ligthart (Ned), Marco Marcato (Ita), Rob Ruijgh (Ned), Willem Wauters (Bel), Rafael Valls (Spa), Frederik Veuchelen (Bel).

Vini-Fantini: Oscar Gatto (Ita), Mauro Santambrogio (Ita), Danilo Di Luca (Ita), Matteo Rabottini (Ita), Stefano Garzelli (Ita), Francesco Chicchi (Ita), Rafael Andriato (Bra), Alessandro Proni (Ita), Fabio Taborre (Ita).

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