Not to be overshadowed by this weekend's announcement of the Volta a Catalunya, the Giro d'Italia has introduced its 2007 parcours to the world. Early returns are that it's easier... a theme we'll probably be hearing a lot, even though we here decided that slackening the courses was kind of a band aid. Anyway, it looks like a lovely course, but I'm biased about the Italian stuff. At least it should be more competitive than 2006.
A few impressions, on the flip...
- Your standard topo map of the race.
- The Giro has its climbing profile.
The course looks infinitely less ambitious than last year's love-in with the Belgian diaspora and mega-climb-fest, though at least one article claims it's a tribute to the climbers. Well, there's plenty of climbing, and some other fun. To wit...
- Stage 1: team time trial!
- Stage 4: the Montevergine climb will supply a rather early ranking of the GC hopefuls, cimbing from low-lying Salerno to over 1200 meters. Stage 10 is another early challenge.
- Apparently Alessandro Petacchi has a short shelf-life back home, because, there are almost NO sprinters' days. From a quick glance it looks like only stages 3, 5, 11, and 18 feature no serious climbs. That's it.
- The serious business starts on Stage 12, with the Giro's only foreign adventure over into Briancon. En route is the Cima Coppi (highest point) on the Colle dell'Agnello, and old friend the Izoard, before the descent to Briancon.
- Stage 15 is your standard queen stage, with four major ascents and a finish up the Tre Cime di Lavaredo... but the real battle may be held over two more days, with a stage finishing on the 10km, 17% Monte Zoncolan. This is going to be the true spectacle of the race.
- Time trials: no love for the specialists in this discipline either. Apart from the opening 24km TTT, there's also the return of the mountain TT, 13km to the Santuario di Oropa, and a more standard clinching ITT at stage 20, 42 relatively gentle km.
- Oh, and the maglia bianca comes back! Replacing the ridiculous intergiro jersey, we'll have a best young rider comp... recognizing of course that there's a decent chance the best young rider will actually be in pink.
Onto other matters:
- CN runs a big piece on Basso, who will figure large of course, and who seemingly is being welcomed back like a returning champion. Kind of refreshing, really... if you think he's innocent. Anyway, Gregor Brown, former operator of the seemingly defunct Bicirace.com, has the story for CN.
- My favorite element to the race is the historical one. The Giro likes to make an emotional connection to people with its course, in kind of a sweet, hokey way. The 1949 Giro, made famous not only by the battle of Coppi vs. Bartali but Dino Buzzati's coverage as well, retraced the route of Garibaldi's Army, whose exploits essentially united Italy into its modern-day form. This year's route, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport and almost unreadably transalted by Sherlock, retraces many of Garibaldi's steps, rather than those of his army:
extraordinary homage: the 4 July 2007 reruns the bicentennial of the birth of Giuseppe Garibaldi to which the next "race rose" reserves, of understanding with the Committee of the Celebrations instituted from the Ministry of the Cultural Assets, great attention, celebrating it in Sardinia, the island that of conserve imperituro memory. For case the Turn does not move from Caprera, the island in which is buried the Hero of the Two Worlds. And the fifth stage will leave from Teano, not far away from Caiazzo, the place in which Garibaldi king Vittorio Emanuele II met in order to favour the design of the Conte di Cavour. It will be journeyed also from Quarter not before having greeted, in the same stage, the Valgraveglia, earth that that one annotates between the more diffuse last names than Garibaldi. The Turn will make stage also Bergamo, whose province very gave to the shipment 216 garibaldini. Two are the ulterior citations "native land" of 90° the Turn: the departure of 9.a the stage from Reggio Emilia that celebrates 210° the year of the Tricolour one, symbol of freedom and national identity, and the transit, during the tenth fraction, from Quarter, the scoglio from which they took to the movements the 1,090 Garibaldi's redshirts to the continuation of Garibaldi. Also in its lay nature, the next Turn of Italy omaggia also three places of cult, than are assigned to as many arrivals in quota: to Montevergine di Mercogliano, the Sanctuary Ours Mrs. of the Guard, to Oropa. Returns classifies classified the young people, to the runners been born after 1° the January 1982, graduatoria one that assigns to the mesh white woman, already in being from 1976 and until to 1994. It marks them beneaugurante for the future of the cycling that in the young people she wants to try linfa and pulizia.