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2022 Giro d’Italia Stage Analysis

All the stages and the thoughtful analysis of each

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Stage 1 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 1 (2 stars)
BUDAPEST–VISEGRÁD
Friday, May 6
195km (rolling with hilltop finish)

Grande Partenza

With a population of 1,750,000, the ancient city of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a fitting place for the Grande Partenza of the 105th Giro d’Italia. This is the 14th time that the Giro has started outside of Italy and the first since Jerusalem, Israel, four years ago. Budapest was scheduled to host the Giro in 2020 but that plan was scuttled by Covid—and that’s just as well, because the plan back then was to hold a stage 1 time trial followed by two flat stages for sprinters. Now, the opening day (a Friday) sees a rolling stage that ends with a significant climb to the finish line, followed by a time trial (with another hilltop finish) and then a flat stage. This means that an enterprising rider (maybe Hungarian rider Attila Valter of Groupama-FDJ) has a chance of donning the first maglia rosa (pink jersey), rather than a time trialist. Valter lives only 50 kilometers from the stage 1 finish in Visegrád and often takes a training route that includes the winding climb to the town’s 13th century castle. Steepest at its foot, where the course turns right, away from the Danube River, it’s 5.7 kilometers long and averages around 4 percent. It’s a climb that suits Valter—who wore pink for three days last year and showed great form at this year’s Strade Bianche, where he dropped his chase group companions on the climb to the finish. Visegrád may not be Siena, but the views from the castle over the Danube will also make for some spectacular coverage. Other than Valter, this stage should give a first chance of glory for Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Alessandro Valverde (Movistar), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) or Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal).

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Budapest, start (0km) after 12.4km neutral (6:40 a.m.); Székesfhérvár (sprint), 119.7km to go (8:20 a.m.); Esztergom (sprint), 27.5km to go (10:31 a.m.); Visegrád (Cat. 4, finish, Castle), 195km (11:13 a.m.).

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Stage 2 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 2 (3 stars)
BUDAPEST TT
Saturday, May 7
9.2km (individual time trial)

A TOUGH TT

This is one of the most technical time trial courses seen in any recent grand tour. It may be less than 10 kilometers long, but in that distance, there are 20 sharp turns (90 degrees or tighter), a few dips and rises, and a 1.3-kilometer climb to the line that has a 14-percent pitch. The course favors a smaller rider who has great bike-handling ability and a good punch to go full throttle up the hill to the finish. And in a Giro without world TT champ Filippo Ganna, the stage win could well go to a rider such as UAE Team Emirates’ João Almeida, Jumbo-Visma’s Tom Dumoulin, or Movistar’s Valverde. The 9.2-kilometer course starts in the magnificent Heroes’ Square on the Pest side of the city, negotiates a dozen turns on city streets to the Danube River, passes the ornate Parliament building, and loops across the Margaret Island bridge before heading along the riverbank to the 7.9-kilometer time check at the foot of the Cat. 4 finishing climb. The zigzag hill ends at Buda Square in the Castle Quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Budapest (Heroes’ Square), start (0km): 8 a.m. (first starter), 10:58 a.m. (last starter); Ponty Utca, time split (7.9km, 1.3km to go): 8:09 a.m. (first starter), 11:07 a.m. (last starter); Budapest (Buda Square, Cat. 4), finish (9.2km): 8:12 a.m. (first starter), 11:09 a.m. (last starter).

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Stage 3 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 3 (1 star)
KAPOSVAR – BALATONFURED
Sunday, May 8
201km (rolling)

SPRINTERS AHOY!

With just two intermediate sprints and a tiny Cat. 4 climb 12 kilometers from the finish, any result other than a mass sprint will be a surprise. Besides the excitement that always emits from the first big sprint of a grand tour, this stage will also be worth watching because of the magnificent scenery. The last two hours of racing will be along Lake Balaton, which is the largest lake in central Europe (77 kilometers long and 14 kilometers wide) and is flanked by vineyards. The day’s one climb is on the Tihany Peninsula, where the lake narrows to just 1.6 kilometers across. The last 10 kilometers on the lakeshore will speed by before what should be a highly contested sprint in the tourist town of Balatonfüred. Among the contenders should be (in alphabetical order) Mark Cavendish of Quick-Step-Alpha Vinyl, Arnaud Démare of Groupama-FDJ, Caleb Ewan of Lotto-Soudal, Fernando Gaviria of UAE Team Emirates, Phil Bauhaus of Bahrain Victorious and Giacomo Nizzolo of Israel-Premier Tech. With the Hungarian part of the race complete, everyone will be anxious to drive 80 kilometers to the Héviz-Balaton Airport before a charter flight to Sicily (or a 2,000-kilometer drive for the team vehicles!).

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Kaposvár, start (0km) after 8.1 km neutral (6:40 a.m.); Nagykanizsa (sprint), 131.9km to go (8:15 a.m.); Badacsony (sprint), 53.2km to go (10:01 a.m.); Tihany (Cat. 4), 12.6km to go (10:58 a.m.); Balatonfüred (finish), 201km (11:15 a.m.).

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Stage 4 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 4 (4 stars)
AVOLA – Mt. ETNA (Rifugio Sapienza)
Tuesday, May 10
172km (mountains, with summit finish)

UP THE VOLCANO

After a rest day on the island of Sicily to acclimate to the higher temperatures of Italy’s deep south, the GC contenders will need to be in their very best climbing form to tackle the only mountaintop finish of the opening week. After climbing steadily for 50 kilometers from Avola, a beach town on the Ionian Sea, the peloton will have a clear view of the Mount Etna volcano for the rest of the day. The final 30 kilometers are all uphill, with two bonus sprints on the early slopes likely to liven up the pace before reaching the climb itself: averaging almost 6 percent grade for 23.8 kilometers. It’s by no means the hardest climb in this Giro, but coming on the first day back in Italy, with no preamble of long ascents, expect some surprise time losses for pre-race favorites rather than big gains. When a stage finished here in 2018, Simon Yates accelerated where the grade steepens 8 kilometers from the top of the climb to join teammate Esteban Chavez who’d been in an all-day breakaway; but they finished only half a minute ahead of a group of eight climbers. This year, BikeExchange-Jayco’s Yates could again be the man to beat, but just as interesting will be seeing which riders can match him from a group of contenders that includes Almeida, Dumoulin, former Giro winner Richard Carapaz of INEOS Grenadiers, Hugh Carthy of EF-EasyPost, Giulio Ciccone of Trek-Segafredo, Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman of BORA-Hansgrohe, Roman Bardet of Team DSM, Pello Bilbao and Mikel Landa of Bahrain Victorious, Miguel Ángel López of Astana Qazaqstan, Guillaume Martin of Cofidis and Iván Sosa and Valverde of Movistar; and will Italian veterans Vincenzo Nibali of Astana and Domenico Pozzovivo of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, who have climbed Etna countless times, use their knowledge to upset the favorites?

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Avola, start (0km) after 4.8km neutral (6:35 a.m.); Paternò (sprint), 35.5km to go (9:53 a.m.); Biancavilla (sprint), 23.9km to go (10:11 a.m.); Etna-Nicolosi (Rifugio Sapienza, Cat. 1, finish), 172km (11:14 a.m.).

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Stage 5 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 5 (2 stars)
CATANIA – MESSINA
Wednesday, May 11
174km (flat)

Sprinters and the Shark

There’s a Cat. 2 climb over a northern flank of Mount Etna to cope with between long, flat runs along the eastern and northern coasts of Sicily, but it comes with more than two hours of racing to go; so expect the main sprinters to be in with a chance of victory at the port city of Messina. The run-in to the finish around the northeastern tip of the island is exposed to coastal winds that could play a part in deciding the stage—as will an extremely sharp left turn with 800 meters to go. Besides witnessing a likely sprint victory for Cavendish, Démare, or Ewan, the Messina crowd will also be cheering for the local hero, the Shark of Messina, 37-year-old Vincenzo Nibali—probably on his last appearance in his hometown as an active racer. With the stage over, the whole race entourage will be heading to the ferries across the Strait of Messina and to hotels on the Costa Viola of the mainland.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Catania, start (0km) after 7.1km neutral (5:45 a.m.); Francavilla di Sicilia (sprint), 118.3km to go (7:01 a.m.); Portella Mandrazzi (Cat. 2), 98.7km to go, (7:52 a.m.); Villafranca Tirrena (sprint), 37.3km to go (9:11 a.m.); Messina (finish, via Garibaldi), 174km (10:00 a.m.).

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Stage 6 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 6 (2 stars)
PALMI – SCALEA
Thursday, May 12
192km (flat, with a few rollers)

Flat and fast

On the Italian mainland for the first time, this flat stage sees the peloton leave the most southerly part of the peninsula on an itinerary that arrows due north up the southwest coast. Only an early Cat. 4 climb interrupts the flatness, which is emphasized by the route passing through no less than 14 tunnels under coastal headlands. The last four of these immediately follow the day’s second bonus sprint at Guardia Piemontese Marina with 44 kilometers to go. Unless an all-day breakaway can hold on, this will be another stage for the sprinters on a completely flat finishing straight in Scalea, a pretty beach town of 10,000 people.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Palmi, start (0km) after 9km neutral (6:50 a.m.); Aeroporto L. Razza (Cat. 4), 157.5km to go (7:40 a.m.); Vibo Valentia (sprint),151.4km to go (7:47 a.m.); Guardia Piemontese Marina (sprint), 44.3km to go (10:14 a.m.); Scalea (finish, s.s. 18), 192km (11:12 a.m.).

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Stage 7 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 7 (4 stars)
DIAMANTE – POTENZA
Friday, May 13
196km (mountains)

Showdown time

With more than 4,500 meters (some 15,000 feet) of climbing over four mountain passes and a near-200-kilometer distance over almost six hours, this stage holds the promise for the first major showdown in the 2022 Giro d’Italia. The climbs in the Calabria and Basilicata regions aren’t the most famous at the Giro (Monte Sirino was last used for a stage finish in 1999 and Montagna Grande di Viggiano is a first-timer), but the ruggedness of the terrain will challenge both the expected early breakaways and the GC contenders. Even the day’s two bonus sprints are uphill, including a possibly decisive one in the finish town of Potenza, just 7 kilometers from the line. And there’s a 13-percent pitch in the short uphill finish. With a weekend of challenges coming up, this “Friday the Thirteenth” stage will be unlucky for some but will almost certainly favor a breakaway developing over the first two climbs and staying clear to the finish. It’s anybody’s guess who wins this one. But of even greater interest will be the battle behind between the race favorites.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Diamante, start (0km) after 6km neutral (5:55 a.m.); Passo Colla (Cat. 3), 150.4km to go (7:10 a.m.); Monte Sirino (Cat. 1), 105.9km to go (8:27 a.m.); Viggiano (sprint), 70km to go, (9:19 a.m.); Montagna Grande di Viggiano (Cat. 2), 60.4km to go (9:45 a.m.); La Sellata (Cat. 3), 23.8km to go (10:41 a.m.); Potenza Centro (sprint), 7km to go (11:04 a.m.); Potenza (finish, viale Verrastro), 196km (11:13 a.m.).

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Stage 8 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 8 (2 stars)
NAPOLI – NAPOLI
(Procida Capitale Italiana della Cultura)
Saturday, May 14
153km (hilly, with circuits)

A most unusual day

Rarely do the organizers of grand tours include circuit races into their schedules (except on closing stages such as in Paris at the Tour de France), but on this second weekend of the 105th Giro race promoter, RCS has decided to spice up the race with a most unusual day’s racing. Starting and finishing on the seafront in Naples, a city of one million people, stage 8 first heads west to complete a flattish loop to the first sprint at Lago Patria before reaching after 50 kilometers the start of a hilly 19-kilometer circuit that will be lapped four times. With the likely huge Saturday afternoon crowds on the Monte de Prócida peninsula (including a 1-kilometer, 6-percent climb), the stage will have the air of a world championship, so look for some classics specialists to contest the stage win. An uncategorized climb at Coróglio, 8 kilometers from the finish, could be a springboard for the last break and perhaps a finishing sprint between the likes of Magnus Cort of EF Education-EasyPost, Alessandro Covi of UAE, Biniam Girmay of Intermarché and Mathieu van der Poel.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Napoli start (0km) after 2.4km neutral (7:40 a.m.); Lago Patria (sprint), 115.6km to go (8:29 a.m.); Bácoli (sprint), 37.3km to go (10:20 a.m.); Monte di Prócida (Cat. 4), 34.3km to go (10:28 a.m.); Napoli (finish, viale Caracciolo), 153km (11:14 a.m.).

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Stage 9 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 9 (5 stars)
ISERNIA – BLOCKHAUS
Sunday, May 15
191km (mountains, summit finish)

DOUBLE WHAMMY

While the Blockhaus climb in the Apennine mountains of central Italy has been used at the Giro seven times, only once did the riders climb from the same side as they do this year: that was five years ago at the end of a short stage devoid of other climbs. The stage winner was a pure climber, Nairo Quintana, 24 seconds ahead of that race’s eventual overall winner: Tom Dumoulin. However, when the Blockhaus saw Eddy Merckx win his first-ever grand tour stage, in 1967, it was via the less-steep Passo di Lanciano. What makes this year’s stage 9 so much tougher is that the riders will have already tackled three earlier climbs before they race up the Lanciano, descend to the deep Pescara River valley then back up to the Blockhaus summit on the very steepest approach. So, it’s a double whammy. In total, this 191-kilometer stage involves some 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) of vertical gain, making it one of the three most demanding of the whole Giro.

None of the three previous Giro winners in the field—Nibali, Dumoulin, and Carapaz—has shown their very best form this year, so this stage should tell us whether any of them has a chance of again ending the race in the pink jersey. There are plenty of other candidates who can challenge the winners’ quartet and it should be thrilling to see which ones can come through on the Blockhaus. Will it be the South American climbers López and Sosa? The Iberians Almeida and Landa? The Britons Carthy and Yates? Or the Aussie, Hindley? With eight stages complete, crashes, ill-health or badly timed mechanicals will likely have already eliminated some of these men from GC contention; but let’s hope this double whammy will show who really has the chops to win.

The final 25 kilometers are all uphill, with 12 kilometers of steady ascent to reach the second of the day’s bonus sprints at Roccamorice. This section will likely see the end of any long-distance breakaways, while the strongest teams will set a strong tempo to set up their leaders for the 13.6 kilometers that remain. Fans of the INEOS Grenadiers and former Team Sky will remember that on the approach to the steepest section in 2017 team leader Geraint Thomas dislocated his shoulder in a crash caused by a stationary motorcycle that ended his hopes of overall victory. The final 10 kilometers average almost 10 percent with the steepest pitch of 14 percent on one of the never-ending switchbacks. After some five hours already in the saddle, the Blockhaus should crown a true champion.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Isernia, start (0km) after 3.4km neutral (5:45 a.m.); Valico del Macerone (Cat. 3), 186.8km to go (5:56 a.m.); Rionero Sannitico (Cat. 2), 173.2km to go (6:26 a.m.); Roccaraso (Cat. 2), 153.4km to go (7:03 a.m.); Filetto (sprint), 87.5km to go (8:29 a.m.); Passo di Lanciano (Cat. 1), 43.3km to go (9:46 a.m.); Roccamorice (sprint), 13.5km to go (10:32 a.m.); Blockhaus (Cat. 1, finish, loc. Mamma Rosa), 191km (11:13 a.m.).

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Stage 10 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 10 (3 stars)
PESCARA – JESI
Tuesday, May 17
196km (flat, then hilly)

Breakaway day

Following the second rest day on the Adriatic, the first 100 kilometers of this stage 10 hugs the coastline on completely flat roads to the first bonus sprint at Civitanova Marche. By that point, a big breakaway will almost certainly have formed with a decent lead. Then comes the second half of the stage, which heads into a network of narrow, twisting back roads, always up and down, with some of the hills steep enough to be called walls. The last of these Cat. 4 climbs is only 8 kilometers from the finish in Jesi, a city of 40,000 that has a strong sporting background, home to countless Olympic medalists and the Italian national football coach, Roberto Mancini. All those short climbs will split the breakaway group before a likely sprint between a few survivors.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Pescara start (0km) after 9.4km neutral (6:40 a.m.); Civitanova Marche (sprint), 96.6km to go (8:59 a.m.); Crocetta di Montecosaro (Cat. 4), 85.2km to go (9:16 a.m.); Recanati (Cat. 4), 69.7km to go (9:41 p.m.); Filottrano (sprint), 42.4km to go (10:18 a.m.); Monsano (Cat. 4), 8.5km to go (11:03 a.m.); Jesi (finish, viale della Vittoria), 196km (11:14 a.m.).

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Stage 11 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 11 (1 star)
SANTARCANGELO DI ROMAGNA – REGGIO EMILIA
Wednesday, May 18
203km (flat)

A sprinter’s dream

With more than half the Giro completed, it will be interesting to see how many of the top sprinters have survived. Also, this completely flat stage is the next-to-last chance for the pure sprinters to get a stage win; stage 13 to Cuneo offers another chance, but the only remaining day without a significant climb, stage 18, is so late in the race it will almost certainly be taken by a breakaway. That means that all the sprinters’ teams—Lotto-Soudal for Ewan, Groupama-FDJ for Démare, Quick-Step for Cavendish, Bahrain for Bauhaus, and Israel-Premier Tech for Nizzolo—will control the day’s breaks and keep the peloton together for what should be a thrilling sprint finish. The only way that won’t happen is the possibility of strong crosswinds splitting the peloton in the Po Valley, but it will still be a sprint. Potential stage winners will need to be well placed for two sweeping left turns in the final kilometer.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Santarcangelo di Romagna, start (0km) after 3.1km neutral (6:30 a.m.); Toscanella di Dozza (sprint), 126.6km to go (8:22 a.m.); San Giovanni in Persiceto (sprint), 76.3km to go (9:20 a.m.); Reggio Emilia (finish, viale Isonzo), 203km (11:14 a.m.).

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Stage 12 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 12 (4 stars)
PARMA – GENOVA
Thursday, May 19
204km (hilly)

Challenging finale

The Giro organizers make another surprise on this stage between the cities of Parma and Genova. In past years, this would likely have been one for the sprinters. But, after descending to the Ligurian Sea, instead of just following the direct 45-kilometer coastal road to the finish, the course covers almost twice that distance in two distinct parts. The first heads west along valley roads before tackling two tricky Cat. 3 climbs on narrow roads, including the Valico di Trensasco, which average 8 percent for 4.3 kilometers. This peaks 1,000 feet above the city of Genova and is followed by the second part: 30 kilometers of challenging racing. After descending into the outskirts, the route passes through two tunnels that are almost a kilometer long, circles back into Genova over the newly built San Giorgio expressway viaduct (which replaced the one that collapsed in 2018), and takes in two more tunnels before dropping to the harbor and then turning left into the city center for what should be a much-reduced bunch sprint along the historic, slightly uphill  Via XX Settembre. Such a challenging finale could well see some in-fighting between the race leaders, especially if the time gaps are minimal and the maglia rosa is up for grabs. It’s also the sort of stage that could be won by a sprinter who can survive those last two climbs—maybe Caleb Ewan or even new Eritrean sensation Biniam Girmay.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Parma, start (0km) after 6.6km neutral (6:05 a.m.); Borgo Val di Taro (sprint), 147.1km to go (7:28 a.m.); Passo del Bocco (Cat. 3), 106.4km to go (8:30 a.m.); Ferrada (sprint), 69.1km to go (9:20 a.m.); La Colletta (Cat. 3), 52.3km to go (9:55 a.m.); Valico di Trensasco (Cat. 3), 30.6km to go (10:30 a.m.); Genova (finish, Via XX Settembre), 204km (11:11 a.m.).

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Stage 13 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 13 (2 stars)
SAN REMO – CUNEO
Friday, May 20
150km (hills, then flat)

Sprinters’ last chance

Although there’s a 10-kilometer climb in the early part of this stage, this is probably the last chance for the sprinters to claim some glory. If a breakaway doesn’t gain too much time on the run along the coast from the start in Sanremo and on the subsequent climbs, then the sprinters’ teams will put the hammer down across the Piedmont plain toward Cuneo—a handsome city of 56,000 that’s hosted plenty of Giro stages. Perhaps Cavendish and Ewan will play their last hurrahs here before quitting the race and focusing on their preparations for the Tour de France.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

San Remo, start (0km) after 6.3km neutral (7:35 a.m.); Pieve di Teco (sprint), 106.3km to go (8:08 a.m.); Colle di Nava (Cat. 3), 95.9km to go (9:06 a.m.); San Michele di Mondovì (sprint), 38km to go (10:22 a.m.); Cuneo (finish, Corso Nizza), 150km (11:15 a.m.).

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Stage 14 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 14 (4 stars)
SANTENA – TORINO
Saturday, May 21
147km (climbs, with ultra-hilly finishing circuit)

Supercharged circuit

With a dozen climbs, five of which are categorized, this short stage in the Piedmont region could be more decisive than a high mountain stage. The bulk of the climbing is on a 36.4-kilometer circuit that will be lapped two-and-a-bit times with the finish on the right bank of the Po River in downtown Turin. Each lap includes the Superga and Maddalena climbs, which both have double-digit grades. The Superga is the nasty 5-kilometer hill that in the past decade has seen the finish of the Milan–Turin classic, which has been won by López and Ullisi, while Almeida and Valverde have finished on the podium. Any of these four could win this stage, while a finishing circuit like this will perfectly suit Olympic champ Carapaz and Nibali.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Santena start (0km) after 7.3km neutral (7:15 a.m.); Il Polinetto (Cat. 3), 103.7km to go (8:23 a.m.); Mon. Fausto Coppi (sprint), 70.8km to go (9:10 a.m.); Superga (Cat. 2), 63.8km to go (9:28 a.m.); Colle della Maddalena (Cat. 2), 48.3km to go (9:54 a.m.); Superga (Cat. 2), 27.3km to go (10:32 a.m.); Colle della Maddalena (Cat. 2), 11.8km to go (10:57 a.m.); Parco del Nobile (sprint), 4.5km to go (11:08 a.m.); Torino (finish, Corso Moncallieri), 147km (11:14 a.m.).

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Stage 15 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 15 (4 stars)
RIVAROLO CANAVESE – COGNE (Lillaz)
Sunday, May 22
177km (mountains)

Into the Alps

A large breakaway is sure to develop in the two hours of racing on valley roads heading north into the Alps from the Cavanese plains, but then come 60 kilometers up and down the sides of the deep Aosta valley with almost 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) of vertical gain. Both the Cat. 1 climbs, the Pila and Verrogne, are beasts before reaching the closing uphill to Cogne. The last climb, into the spectacular Gran Paradiso National Park that’s celebrating its 100th anniversary, looks benign on paper; but after riding on the limit for two hours, either climbing relentlessly or descending warily, racing up a final 22-kilometer ascent will be extra-tough for everyone. This summit finish has been used only once before, in 1985, when it was called Gran Paradiso. It was the only climb on a short stage. The winner was Andy Hampsten. It was the American’s breakthrough in his rookie season, his stage win engineered by the 7-Eleven team’s directeur sportif Mike Neel, who got Hampsten to wear a skinsuit and attack on the last steep pitch, 9.4 percent, 15 kilometers from the top. They knew that the final easy grades and a favorable breeze would allow him to sustain any lead he took on the steep section. Hampsten won by a minute and a half. Times have changed, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a solo winner on this only alpine stage right before the final rest day. This stage 15 looks perfect for another native English speaker like Jai Hindley or Simon Yates.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Rivarolo Canavese, start (0km) after 4.6km neutral (6:25 a.m.); Pollein (sprint), 86.8km to go (8:30 a.m.); Pila-Les Fleurs (Cat. 1), 72.3km to go (9:05 a.m.); Verrogne (Cat. 1), 40.1km to go (10:05 a.m.); Cogne centro (sprint), 3.2km to go (11:08 a.m.); Cogne (finish, Cat. 2, Lillaz), 177km (11:13 a.m.).

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Stage 16 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 16 (5 stars)
SALO – APRICA (Sforzato Wine Stage)
Tuesday, May 24
202km (mountains, with summit finish)

Over the Mortirolo

With a rest day behind them, the survivors of this always challenging Giro now face what could be the most decisive stage. It’s more than 200 kilometers in length, it features three Cat. 1 climbs, and totals 5,250 meters (17,225 feet) of vertical gain—the most in any stage of the 2022 Giro. The three mountain climbs aren’t the highest this year, as none of them tops 2,000 meters; but all three of them have strong connections with the Giro’s most popular climber, Marco Pantani. The last time the 30-kilometer-long Goletto di Cadino was crossed, in 1998, Pantani was on his way to winning a rugged battle with runner-up Pavel Tonkov at Montecampione. As for the Mortirolo-Santa Cristina combo, that in 1994 earned a young Pantani a massive stage win at Aprica—where he ended a long solo break three minutes ahead of Miguel Induráin and four ahead of race leader Evgeni Berzin.

It’s possible that such large time gaps will be repeated this year. Stage 16 is relentless. After starting in Salo on Lake Garda, there’s only a 29-kilometer warm-up on valley roads before turning left from the Idro lakeside to begin the day’s climbing to the Cadino summit. That’s followed by a hectic 22-kilometer drop to base level and a long uphill approach to the Mortirolo. This is the easier side of the iconic climb, though most of its 12.6 kilometers are at 8 percent, with double-digit grades in the final 2.5 kilometers. Going down the steeper side of the Mortirolo on narrow roads will be a technical challenge—especially if there’s rain in the air—before descending between the Sforzato vineyards (after which the stage is named) and through the town of Tirano. Then comes an unpleasant surprise for the riders: an uncategorized climb that ramps up at 9 percent for 5 kilometers to a bonus sprint at Teglio. They then speed back to the valley and immediately begin the day’s final climb. The Valico di Santa Cristina averages 8 percent for its 13.5 kilometers, but the final half is at 10 percent and it summits only 6 kilometers from the finish in Aprica.

By now, the GC will be pretty much established, though the fight for the podium will still have a ways to go. But as for the stage itself, a breakaway by riders who’ve lost time in the first two weeks will be eager to go for a stage win. That could mean two races in one: one for the stage and a second one for the maglia rosa. Whether a new Pantani will emerge, it’s hard to say.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Salo, start (0km) after 9km neutral (5:15 a.m.); Goletto di Cadino (Cat. 1), 142.8km to go (7:07 a.m.); Malonno (sprint), 98.3km to go (8:08 a.m.); Passo del Mortirolo (Cat. 1), 72.1km to go (9:12 a.m.); Teglio (sprint), 30km to go (10:14 a.m.); Valico di Santa Cristina (Cat. 1), 6.2km to go (11:04 a.m.); Aprica (finish, Corso Roma), 202km (11:12 a.m.).

 

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Stage 17 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 17 (4 stars)
PONTE DI LEGNO – LAVARONE
Wednesday, May 25
168km (mountains)

Another steep finale

This stage 17 is very similar to stage 17 last year which finished at Sega di Ala and took place in the same area near Trento. That stage was won by the now-retired Dan Martin ahead of Almeida and Yates. Those two could again figure in this stage 17, because the two Cat.1 climbs that precede the finish in Lavarone are similar to those in 2021. The second, Monterovere, summits just 8 kilometers from the stage finish but it’s where the stage winner will effectively emerge. And it’s a steep one, averaging over 10 percent for 8 kilometers with the steepest pitch of 15 percent near the top. For sure, there are no easy climbs in the Giro!

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Ponte di Legno, start (0km) after 4.4km neutral (6:40 a.m.); Giovo (Cat. 3), 82.2km to go (8:49 a.m.); Pergine Valsugana (sprint), 46.2km to go (9:36 a.m.); Passo del Vetriolo (Cat.1), 33.7km to go (10:15 a.m.); Caldonazzo (sprint), 18.1km to go (10:34 a.m.); Monterovere (Cat. 1), 7.9km to go (11:03 a.m.); Lavarone (finish, Piazza Italia), 168km (11:13 a.m.).

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Stage 18 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 18 (1 star)
BORGO VALSUGANA – TREVISO
Thursday, May 26
152km (flat)

The last field sprint?

With the mountains behind them, all the riders will welcome this fairly short, almost-all-downhill stage through the Prosecco wine country to Treviso—that’s not far from Venice and their hotels along the Adriatic coast. Just over three hours long, with only two Cat. 4 hills to scale and with a flat 10-kilometer circuit at the end, the sprinters’ teams will be quite happy to chase down any breakaways. The question is: Which sprinters will still be in the race? Most likely, it will be those who have survived the big climbing stages and may be battling for the points title, probably Démare, Bauhaus, and Nizzolo.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Borgo Valsugana, start (0km) after 3.6km neutral (7:50 a.m.); Le Scale di Primolano (Cat. 4), 127.2km to go (8:25 a.m.); Valdobbiadene (sprint), 79.1km to go (9:29 a.m.); Muro di Ca’ del Poggio (Cat. 4), 49.7km to go (10:11 a.m.); Susegana (sprint), 35.3km to go (10:29 a.m.); Treviso (1st passage), 10.8km to go (10:59 a.m.); Treviso (finish, Via Bixio), 152km (11:13 a.m.).

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Stage 19 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 19 (4 stars)
MARANO LAGUNARE – SANTUARIO DI CASTELMONTE
Friday, May 27
178km (mountains, summit finish)

Slovenian peak

Just two days away from the finish of the 105th Giro, most teams will be looking to consolidate what they have achieved, like defending one of the jerseys, but others will still be looking for a stage win or improving their overall time before the final day’s time trial. The climbers at the top of the GC will be fully aware that the race’s steepest and toughest mountaintop finish is still 24 hours away, so they won’t want to burn all their matches on this stage—even though it offers the possibility of time gains. It’s more likely that a rider no longer in the fight for the podium will make the effort to win. Perhaps a Carthy, a Hindley, or a Landa. To achieve that goal, the potential stage winner would need to get into the early breakaway that forms on the coastal plain before hitting the first of two Cat. 3 climbs in the Julian Prealps. Those hills should thin out the breakaway somewhat before the route drops into Slovenian territory for the next hour or so of racing. The main item on the agenda here is a Cat. 1 climb being used at the Giro for the first time. Mt. Kolovrat is just over 12 kilometers long and except for a flattish section in the middle, it averages a punishing 10 percent. If they were riding this Giro, it would be a wonderful mountain for local superstars Roglič and Pogačar to display their best climbing legs! Instead, it offers the potential stage 19 winners a wonderful springboard to glory. After the summit, the roads are all downhill for 35 kilometers into Friuli before starting the tricky Cat. 2 climb (7.1 kilometers at 7.8 percent) to the stage finish at the 1,000-year-old chapel of Santuario di Castelmonte.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Marano Lagunare, start (0km) after 6.3km neutral (6:25 a.m.); Buja (sprint), 122.2km to go (7:47 a.m.); Villanova Grotte (Cat. 3), 103.1km to go (8:22 a.m.); Passo di Tanamea (Cat. 3), 83.7km to go (8:58 a.m.); Kolovrat (Cat. 1), 43.4km to go (10:08 a.m.); Cividale del Friuli (sprint), 9.6km to go (10:51 a.m.); Santuario di Castelmonte (Cat 2, finish), 178km (11:14 a.m.).

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Stage 20 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 20 (5 stars)
BELLUNO – MARMOLADA (PASSO FEDAIA)
Saturday, May 28
168km (mountains, summit finish)

Danger in the Dolomites

Last year, the major mountain stage through the Dolomites had to be shortened because of bad weather: low clouds, rain, and cold temperatures. The two climbs that were removed from the course were the Passo Fedaia (a.k.a. the Marmolada) and Passo Pordoi. This year, they are both back, with the Pordoi—the highest pass this year, earning it the Cima Coppi designation—preceding the Marmolada stage finish.

Surprisingly, the Marmolada has seen a Giro stage finish only twice before. It was first scheduled to be included in 1969, but the stage was canceled because of foul weather. Race director Vincenzo Torriani was allegedly in tears that his new find didn’t happen—so he put it into the 1970 course. The finish line was not at the very summit, but at Malga Ciapela, just before the steepest pitches. The stage winner was the roadman sprinter Michele Dancelli at the head of a small group that included Eddy Merckx at 15 seconds and Felice Gimondi at 37. The Fedaia has been included a few times mid-stage, but the only other mountaintop finish, this time at the true summit, was in 2008. The stage winner, at the end of a long solo break, went to a rider in the depths of the GC, Emanuele Sella. Two months later, Sella tested positive for CERA, the second-generation EPO, and he was suspended for a year.

Interestingly, the runner-up on the Marmolada, two minutes back, was Domenico Pozzovivo—who’s still going strong 14 years later. This penultimate 2022 Giro stage has the makings of a more convincing result than either 14 or 52 years ago. An early break is sure to form in the first 90 minutes of racing from Belluno to the first bonus sprint, but this comes right at the foot of the 18-kilometer-long Passo San Pellegrino, which after Falcade, 10 kilometers from the top, has pitches steeper than 15 percent. That will be enough to eliminate any mediocre climbers from the breakaway, while the following Pordoi—though not particularly steep at 6.8 percent—climbs to 2,239 meters (7,345 feet), where the thinner air will catch out even more riders. Some will chase back on the 30 kilometers of descending roads to the foot of the Marmolada, but the gap to the GC leaders will probably have closed a lot by now.

What lies ahead is 14 kilometers at an average of 7.6 percent, but the grade doesn’t really pick up until the road turns right at Malga Ciapela. The next 3 kilometers are dead straight, always steepening from 10 to a maximum of 18 percent. Without turns, this section—called Capanina Bill—is said to be the toughest in Italy; and the climb continues for another agonizing 2.5 kilometers at 10.5 percent. Assuming that the weather doesn’t turn bad and a headwind doesn’t neutralize the action, the race to the summit might well decide who wins this Giro.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Belluno, start (0km) after 4.1km neutral (6:25 a.m.); Cencenighe Agordino (sprint), 104.5km to go (7:54 a.m.); Passo San Pellegrino (Cat. 1), 86.1km to go (8:44 a.m.); Passo Pordoi (Cima Coppi), 44.6km to go (9:54 a.m.); Malga Ciapela (sprint), 5.5km to go (11:53 a.m.); Marmolada (Passo Fedaia, Cat. 1 finish), 168km (11:13 a.m.).

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Stage 21 /// Giro d’Italia 2022

Stage 21 (3 stars)
VERONA – TISSOT ITT
Sunday, May 29
17.4km (time trial)

Into the Arena

Twice before, an almost identical time trial has concluded the Giro in Verona. The course is just over 17 kilometers long, first following flat streets to a 4.5-kilometer, 5-percent climb to Torricella, then dropping back to the city and a finish at the entrance to the Roman Arena—where the final presentations are made. In 2010, the TT made no changes to the top five on GC, with overall winner Ivan Basso taking 15th on the stage, 42 seconds slower than stage winner Gustav Erik Larsen. And three years ago, the only GC change was Roglič moving up from fourth to third over Mikel Landa; overall winner Carapaz was 36th in the TT, 1:12 behind stage winner Chad Haga. With that knowledge, and if he’s again in the pink jersey after the Marmolada, the Ecuadorian knows he only has to start the TT with a 90-second buffer to win again.

SCHEDULE (all times EDT)

Verona (Fiera), start (0km): 7:55 a.m. (first starter), 10:47 a.m. (last starter); Torricella Massimilliana (Cat. 4), time split (9.5km, 7.9km to go): 8:11 a.m. (first starter), 11:02 a.m. (last starter); Verona (Piazza Bra-Arena), finish (17.4km): 8:20 a.m. (first starter), 11:10 a.m. (last starter).