One thing is for sure, at the next Giro d’Italia 2024 there will be no need to wait until the third week to see the big names make their move. Given the punchy and extremely versatile route, with shorter stage distances, the athletes will have no choice but to lay their cards on the table right from the start. The big mountain stages will be carefully scattered over 21 days, which means that the 107th edition of the Corsa Rosa will have very little room for excessive use of tactics.
The opening stage, the 136-kilometre Venaria Reale-Turin, will be quite explosive, with the Colle Maddalena (6.1 km at 7.4%) to be overcome with 20 km to go. No big gaps should arise between the big names but, as mentioned, they will all need to be ready in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. Some gaps could come out on the second day, in the 150 km San Francesco al Campo – Sanctuary of Oropa: the final climb is well known, 11.8 km at an average gradient of 6.2%. It features no impossible ramps, but an ascent like this after just two days of racing could turn out to be a rather significant challenge for more than one rider.
The GC will more than likely get shaken up on Stage 7, featuring the 37.2-kilometre Foligno-Perugia time trial. The fast route will steepen up with the final fourth category rise into the Umbrian capital. For those riders more accustomed to the discipline, this will be an unmissable opportunity to try and gain seconds on their rivals. The purest climbers, however, will get their chance following day, in the 153-kilometre Spoleto-Prati di Tivo, with a summit finish to be reached after 14.6 km at 7%. Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome and Tadej Pogačar have won here, proving the importance and difficulty of this climb. Another bang will be the uphill finish of the 141-kilometre Pompei-Cusano Mutri (Bocca di Selva), with the final climb measuring 17.9 kilometres with an average gradient at 5.6%. Beware then of another tricky factor, this stage comes after the always controversial rest day, which over the years has proved indigestible to more than a few favourites.
After a few relatively quiet days for the GC men, Stage 14 will mark another delicate watershed, as the second race against the clock of this edition will take the riders from Castiglione delle Stiviere to Desenzano del Garda, for a total of 31 km. This time, however, the route is perfectly suited to TT specialists and some extremely fast average speeds will be possible. Next will be a deadly triptych – interrupted only by the rest day after Stage 15 – which will begin with the longest stage of the Giro, the 220 km Manerba del Garda – Livigno. The last 40 km will feature the Forcola di Livigno (18 km at 7.1%) in Swiss territory and the final ascent of Mottolino, which measures 8.1 km at 6.6%. The finish line is located up a ski slope at an altitude of 2385 metres.
The rest day will serve to recover energy ahead of another long and treacherous stage, the 202km Livigno – Santa Cristina Valgardena. 2024’s Cima Coppi – the highest point in the race – will come early in this stage in the form of His Majesty the Stelvio Pass, but the race will be decided by the Pinei Pass (23.4 km at 4.7%), to be climbed 12 km from the finish, and then the final ramp to Santa Cristina Valgardena from Ortisei, with 7.6 km at 6.1%. Shorter but even more brutal is Stage 17, which goes from Selva di Val Gardena to Passo Brocon for 159 km full of climbs. Passo Sella, Passo Rolle, Passo Gobbera and the double climb of Passo Brocon are bound to make a big difference, tempting even riders a little further back in the GC to try and make a move.
The final head-to-head clash between the pretenders to the Maglia Rosa will come on the penultimate day, Stage 20, from Alpago to Bassano del Grappa for 175 km with the double climb to Monte Grappa. The Semonzo side is the toughest, with 18.2 kilometres at 8.1% taking the riders from 195 metres at the foot of the climb to 1675 at the summit. This mythical climb has the power to overturn the entire competition. Only then will we know who will wear the Maglia Rosa in Rome.