Because more is better!
Here at the Gossip World Headquarter, we love rumors. And we love the Giro d'Italia. Rumors and the Giro d'Italia? Well, really, nothing could be better than that. Except for world peace and Pinarellos and Cervélos falling from the sky. But we are digressing. Below is a collection of unconfirmed, overlapping, and at times completely contradictory rumors about next year's Giro d'Italia. Proceed at your own risk.
If your Italian geography is as poor as mine, you will want to have a Map of Italy handy. More detailed maps are included with the rumorage below the fold, natch.
First, a quick overview. According to available rumorage, the Giro begins in Venezia and ends in Roma. The likely path, again based on rumor, is counter-clockwise. In this case, the race moves from Venezia to Friuli, includes a short jaunt into Austria, celebrates its first mountain-top finish in Alto Aldige, visits Sondrio near the Swiss border, then proceeds to Piedmont.
After the Piedmont stages, the Corsa Rosa turns south, and things become considerably more confused. A crono is likely in Liguria. Toscana almost certainly will receive a stage, which will again be the "tappa Bartali." The race includes the eastern coast with a stage in Pesaro. It dips down south for three stages in Campania and Napoli. A climbing stage in Abruzzo is rumored. There is extensive debate about the final stage in Roma. Will it be a road stage or a crono? No one seems to know for sure.
Want to play along? More details below the fold.
✻ Is there a prologue? Maybe, maybe not.
Option 1, the race begins with a road stage beginning in Venezia and finishing in Trieste. The Trieste finish is all-but-confirmed, but no one seems to know whether the first or the second stage will finish there. You know how that goes. The second stage, in this scenario, is a team crono set in Udine in Friuli.
Option 2, the prologue is a team time trial in Venezia Lido. The second stage finishes in Trieste.
✻ Two "international" stages, in addition to the French Alpes. One in Austria, the other in Switzerland, or perhaps Slovenia. No deets on these, though I've seen Lienz in Austria as a possible finish, and Prato alla Drava and Passo di Monte Croce Carnico mentioned as possible climbs on the way back across the border to Italy.
✻ A mountain finish at Alpe di Suisi in Alto Aldige. This stage would be a tribute of sorts to Pantani, as it was ten years ago next year that he was excluded from the '99 Giro. This would likely be the first mountain stage of the race, and it is rumored to start in Austria. A stage finishing at Madonna di Campiglio may follow it.
Confused yet? No? Let's continue.
✻ The order of mountains is expected to be Dolomiti, Alpes, Appenines.
✻ In all there are six potential mountain top finishes: Alpe di Siusi, Madonna di Campiglio, Sestrière, Monte Petrano, Block Haus, Vesuvio. Not all of these climbs may appear, though Sestrière and Vesuvio sound fairly definite.
Among the more significant climbs is the Block Haus, which is located in Abruzzo in the neighborhood of the Maielleta and Passolanciano climbs. From its base at Lettomanoppello, the Block Haus tops out at 2038 meters of altitude after 28 km of climbing at 7.3%. Cry at the sight of the profile. Eddy Merckx cracked to bits on this climb during the 1969 Giro.
✻ Two stages in the province of Sondrio. One finishing in Chiavenna and the other departing from Morbegno. Evidence has popped up in the press about the local authorities very much wanting the race to come to their area. Guess what's near both Morbegno and Chiavenna? Mountains of Unusual size, including the Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio. So far, I've seen no explicit mention of the Stelvio. Is this because there's no chance that it will be included? Or, because anyone who is actually Italian would know immediately that a stage in Sondrio by law includes the Stelvio? Really, I haven't a clue.
✻ Two stages in Piedmont. The first commemorates Fausto Coppi's 1949 exploit where he won on Sestriere after 150 km escape. Bartali finished 11 minutes behind. This stage, from Cuneo to Pinerolo, jaunts through the French Alpes: Colle della Maddalena, Vars, Izoard, Monginevro, and finishes at Sestrière (this combo may be modified, reportedly). The finish at Sestrière sounds pretty definite.
The second stage in Piedmont finishes in Novara, most likely in Bergamanero. Torino may host the depart of this second stage in Piedmont. Uncertainty abounds.
✻ Rumor says the Liguria stage will be a crono at Lerici. Either toward Portovenere (same as Giro 1979) or toward Lido de Camaiore. In either case, a rather picturesque jaunt down the coast.
✻ A Toscana stage is very likely for the "tappa Bartali" which commemorates Gino Bartali. The 2008 Giro, the tappa Bartali was the 19th, from Civitavecchia to San Vincenzo. I'd put it somewhere in the second week this time around. Maybe after the crono in Liguria.
✻ A stage in Genoa, climbing to the Forte Castellaccio, which has a finishing gradient of 20%. Have a look at the profile for the Castellaccio, which lies in the hills Northwest of the city. Nasty bit of work, there.
✻ The Zoncolan will get a break this year, but will probably return in 2010.
✻ A stage in the province of Pesaro, starting in Pergola and arriving at Monta Petrano, near Urbino. Two possible routes: Monte Nerone, Catria, Petrano or Carpegna, Cippo, Catria and Petrano. These are middle mountains - not on level of the Stelvio, but hard enough all the same.
✻ Three stages in Campania and Naples in the South.
1. A sprint finish at Benevento. The Benevento stage seems likely to start in Veroli, or thereabouts, after a stage running from Ciociaria to an unknown destination in the neighborhood of Frosinone.
2. A jaunt along the coast with a climbing finish at Vesuvius. The climb to Vesuvius - Vesuvio da Torre del Greco - is 12 km at 8.6% gradient.
3. A depart in Napoli, riding towards Lazio, which is conveniently located near Rome.
The problem with this southern route as the last stop before Roma, of course, is the absence of a huge climbing finale, which the Giro has used in the past few editions. Perhaps Zomegnan has decided to change it up. Surely, he has noticed, like us, that the middle climbing stages of recent Giros have been oodles of fun. An alternative sends the race to the mountains of Abruzzo after this southern jaunt, with the Block Haus as a grand finale. Though it would add a transfer (or two), heading to Abruzzo from Lazio would give the race it's more typical climbing fireworks near the finish.
✻ The final stage in Rome may be a crono. Or, it may be a road stage. No one seems to know for sure. Since the only cronos I've seen mentioned have been Liguria and a team time trial in Venezia or Udine, a final long crono makes a fair amount of sense.
That's all I got. No warranties or guarantees.