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Five Takeaways From the GIRO’22 Route

Giro Breakdown

Giro’22 Breakdown: The full Giro d’Italia route for 2022 was released last week by the race organizers RCS. Spencer Martin has had the weekend to have a good look at the ‘ups and downs’ of the Italian Grand Tour to give us his ‘Five Giro’22 Takeaways’.

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The route for the 2022 Giro d’Italia was clumsily revealed this past week, with race organizer RCS, who in the midst of a TV rights battle with Italian company RAI, dumping the stages on social media at seemingly random over the course of the last week, instead of simply live-streaming a glitzy event a la ASO and the Tour de France.

Putting aside the strange reveal, the route for the 2022 Giro should produce a great race. I was initially concerned about the foreign start in Hungary since organizers tend to avoid creating any GC gaps until the racing returns to the host country, but the Giro has decided to throw caution to the wind and start the race off with a 5km-long uphill finish on stage 1 and a time trial on stage 2. The first three days abroad only produce a single standard sprint stage, which foreshadows the balanced route when we return to Italy.

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When the Giro hits town It’s always a big day

Looking at the stage overview, we can see that even with the ‘easy’ foreign start, extremely expansive geography, and limited amount of TT kilometers (26), this route offers a little bit of everything. Race boss Mauro Vegni, unlike Tour boss Christian Prudhomme, loves to put on a true ‘tour of Italy’ where the course goes from Sicily in the south to the Dolomites in the north. While admirable, an unfortunate byproduct can be an overloading of dull, flat transitional stages. But at least from a first glance, this doesn’t appear to be an issue in 2022. While we never really know how the race will play out on the road, from a glance, this is one of the more dynamic grand tour routes in recent years.

2022 Giro d’Italia Stage Overview
Stage 1: Budapest – Visegrád (195km): Flat w/Uphill Finish
Stage 2: Budapest – Budapest (9.2km): ITT
Stage 3: Kaposvár – Balatonfüred (201km): Flat
Rest Day – May 5th
Stage 4: Avola – Etna (166m): Mountain Summit Finish
Stage 5: Catania – Messina (172km): Flat
Stage 6: Palmi – Scalea (192km): Flat
Stage 7: Diamante – Potenza (198km): Hilly/Medium Mountain
Stage 8: Naples – Naples (149km): Hilly Circuit
Stage 9: Isernia – Blockhaus (187km): Mountain Summit Finish
Rest Day – May 16th
Stage 10: Pescara – Jesi (194km): Hilly
Stage 11: Santarcangelo di Romagna – Reggio Emilia (201km): Flat
Stage 12: Parma – Genua (186km): Hilly
Stage 13: San Remo – Cuneo (157km): Flat
Stage 14: Santena – Turin (153km): Hilly
Stage 15: Rivarolo Canavese – Cogne (177km): Mountain Summit Finish
Rest Day: May 23rd
Stage 16: Salò – Aprica (200km): Mountain
Stage 17: Ponte di Legno – Lavarone (165km): Mountain
Stage 18: Borgo Valsugana – Treviso (146km): Flat
Stage 19: Marano Lagunare – Castelmonte (178km): Hilly
Stage 20: Belluno – Passo Fedaia/Marmolada (165km): Mountain Summit Finish
Stage 21: Verona – Verona (17.1 km): Individual Time Trial

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Major Takeaways:

1) Forget the route, the race will be all about the start list and how the dynamic between the contenders and their teams play out on the road.

  • A massively overlooked part of a grand tour route reveals is the number one rule in racing; the racers make the race. There can often times be a shocking dissonance between course difficulty and the outcome of the race. Look no further than the 2021 Vuelta a España, where stage 18 featured one of the toughest climbs in cycling, but produced relatively small time gaps, while stage 20, a fairly routine hilly stage, blew up the peloton and created massive time gaps.

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Some good stages for the sprinters

2) Having said that, this route is surprisingly well-balanced for the Giro, which tends to feature routes with lots of time trialing and climbing on one end of the spectrum, but also an absurd amount of flat, transition stages on the other.

  • When we break down the course by stage type, outside of the limited number of individual time trials, the course is almost eerily balanced.

Breakdown by Stage Type:

  • 7 Mountain Stages
  • 4 High Summit Finishes
  • 6 Flat Stage
  • 7 Hilly Stages
  • 1 Individual Time Trials
  • 26-kilometers

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Not many TT kilometers, but Ganna is bound to make the most of them

3) The route offers an extremely limited number of individual time trial kilometers with a single 26km race against the clock.

  • While the number of individual time trials has been decreasing for years at the Tour de France, the same trend hasn’t held true with the Giro. As we can see below, the number of ITT kilometers were incredibly high from 2013-2020, and the 26-kilometers of time trialing in this 2020 edition, which would be a somewhat routine amount for the Tour, is the least amount we’ve had in the modern history of the sport.

Individual Time Trial Kilometers Per Edition 2010-2022

giro TT ks

4) Interestingly, it isn’t clear if this actually matters.

  • While 26-kilometers of time trialing doesn’t leave TT specialists much of a chance, the number of TT kilometers hasn’t actually affected the final outcome of the race in recent years as much as one would think. This is likely an outcome of the demise of the specialist and the rise of the ‘good at everything’ stars. To be a modern top GC contender, riders have to be extremely competent at all disciplines, which means the age of a ‘TT specialist’ racking up a lead on flat TTs and holding on in the mountains is all but over.
  • Below, I list the winners since 2010, along with their ‘racer type’ (based on their strongest attribute as a rider) and the course’s TT rating (the kilometers of ITTs divided by 10). What we can see is that a ‘pure climber’ in Vincenzo Nibali won the edition with the highest TT rating (2013), while the only two ‘time trialists’ to win the race since 2010 (Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome) did so on relatively middle-of-the-road courses.
  • Of course, this just underlines a common talking point at BTP; that the strongest all-around rider nearly always wins a grand tour, and in modern racing, the strongest climber in a race is usually one of, if not the, strongest time trialists as well since both are a function of extremely high sustained power. The rider who is the strongest through the difficult mountain summit finishes will almost certainly be the strongest of the GC contenders over the final 26-kilometer TT (see: stage 20 of the 2020 Tour de France).

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Final stage TT

Past Winner List, Specialty & Course TT Rating
2010: Ivan Basso, pure climber, 3.6
2011: Alberto Contador, climber, 3.8
2012: Ryder Hesjedal, hybrid climber, 3.7
2013: Vincenzo Nibali, pure climber, 7.6
2014: Nairo Quintana, pure climber, 6.9
2015: Alberto Contador, climber, 6.0
2016: Vincenzo Nibali, pure climber, 6.1
2017: Tom Dumoulin, time trialist, 6.9
2018: Chris Froome, time trialist, 4.4
2019: Richard Carapaz, pure climber, 6.0
2020: Tao Geoghegan Hart, climber, 6.5
2021: Egan Bernal, climber, 3.9

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Week three is where the Giro will be won

5) It is a well-worn and often incorrect cliche, but at this Giro, the winner will be decided in the third week.

  • The six stages following the final rest day feature three difficult Dolomiti mountain stages, a hard hilly stage, a time trial with significant climbing, and a single flat stage.
  • The two weeks prior feature a handful of uphill and summit finishes, but I actually don’t expect these to wedge open significant gaps between the top contenders. These summit finishes will see pretenders dropped and put out of contention, but among the top tier contenders, there is almost sure to be more shadow-boxing than any heavy-hitting since the looming difficult third week will have most holding their cards close to their vest.
  • The paradox of the Giro is that the difficult mountain stages looming in the Dolomites in the third week often creates muted racing, no matter the course, through the first two weeks.
  • This means that if the start list features multiple relatively equally matched contenders, despite the limited amount of TT kilometers, the fight for the overall could actually be decided on the final-day time trial, not the difficult mountain stages prior.

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# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #

 

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