GIRO’18 First Look: Money, Mountains & Middle East Mix
Giro’18 Preview: RCS, the organizers of the Italian three week Grand Tour announced the 2018 route in Milan on Wednesday: It’s tough, it’s different and it’s controversial. The 101st Giro d’Italia totals 3,546.2km with 44,000 meters of vertical elevation, two individual time trials and eight summit finishes. PEZ Grand Tour expert, Ed Hood, runs his eye over the percorso for our ‘First Look’ at the 2018 Giro.
The Giro d’Italia presentation
Thirty pieces of silver: Let’s begin with what really matters in international sport – MONEY.
As AC/DC so succinctly put it, ‘Listen to the Money Talk.’ But forget those thirty pieces of silver, how’s an alleged 10 million Euros to the Giro organizers from Israel; and the rumored two mil. to Christopher from the organizers to get him on the start line?
Chris Froome will be in Jerusalem in 2018
OK, now that we’ve sorted out the real reasons the Giro is starting in the Middle East and Froome is on the start line, let’s move on. ‘Religion & Politics shouldn’t be mixed with sport:’ Pardon me?
The race is to start in one of the most controversial arenas in the world, we can’t ignore that. The choice of start venues is a political hot potato with the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), consisting of 120 human rights groups, sending statements urging RCS Sport to reconsider its decision to start the race in Jerusalem.
Stage 1, don’t mention ‘West’ Jerusalem
The group stated: “That holding the Giro d’Italia in Israel will both cover up Israel’s military occupation and discrimination against Palestinians and increase Israel’s sense of impunity, encouraging continued denial of Palestinians’ UN-stipulated rights.” Protests are inevitable and whilst the Israeli Government has guaranteed race security, it’s bound to be a nervous and stressful time for riders and organizers.
The Tifosi: Are denied the first three stages; no doubt the Jerusalem Stage One will draw big crowds but if you have a wee look at a map you’ll observe that whilst Stage Two takes in the Mediterranean coast and finishes in vibrant Tel Aviv, Stage Three describes a bee line through the wilderness – remember how much fun the desert Worlds parcours was? No doubt the inclusion of the Zoncolan and Finestre won’t see the Faithful crying into their Chianti too much?
Dates debacle: It was a serious error of judgement to launch the 2018 percorso on the United Nations, ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.’ To some elements this will be seen as major disrespect and could easily have been avoided – let’s hope it’s not a mistake the race pays for.
A day off for Vincenzo
Rest Days & Rules: If you’re as old as me then you’ll remember that rest days were introduced to try to reduce the temptation/need to resort to ‘artificial’ means of getting through a Grand Tour – and such races are only meant to run for a total of 23 days. This one runs for 24 days. A few years back the UCi decreed that rest days were to be just that, not the vehicle for huge and extremely tiring transfers so as ever more exotic starting cities could be utilized. . .
All the Giro d’Italia profiles
Montagnes: Yes, lots of with eight summit finishes. The first joust with gravity comes on Stage Six with the ascent of the still active volcano, Mount Etna in Sicily. The last time I was up there, Albert Contador won in front of a very few people. Sicily is where the race lands after the three stages in Israel and has the race to itself for three stages.
Giro’11 – Mount Etna
Stages eight to Montevergini di Mercogliani, Stage Nine to Campo Imperatore, Stage 14 to the mighty Zoncolan, Stage 15 to Sappado, Stage 18 to Prato Nervoso, Stage 19 to Jafferau via the Finestre – of which more later – and Stage 20 to Cervinia mean that the organizers (and the Tifosi’s?) appetite for ever more climbs is well sated.
The Zoncolan stage 14
Freddy: In 1977 Belgian ace all-rounder – but he was no climber – Freddy Maertens won the Vuelta, taking 13 stages along the way. Perhaps one day we’ll see a Grand Tour organizer going against the grain, CUTTING the number of climbs and opening it up to all rounders like GVA and Sagan – that would be a different race?
Freddy Maertens in the 1977 Giro d’Italia
Anno Domini: Perhaps appropriately in a land where the definition of how we manage years and therefore time came to be, the first stage is a time trial. Rolling, 10.1 kilometers around the Holy City of Jerusalem and the Froomists are already saying that their man could lead this Giro from start to finish. There’s a second dice with Father Time in Stage 16’s Trento to Rovereto’s 34.5 kilometers and the profile looks big gear friendly.
TT stage 16 for Chris Froome?
Velocisti: Whilst things start well for the fast twitch guys In Israel it’s not a percorso Super Mario or Ale Jet would get excited about.
Stages Two, Three, Seven, 12 (maybe), 13 and the finale in Roma, Stage 21 are all the fast men can look forward to.
Stage 7, one for the sprinters
Ambushes: There are four stages where an opportunist like Nibali could launch an ambush; Stage Four and Five in rugged Sicily; not to mention Stages 10 and 11 north through the Apennines are all tappas where Sky will have to be on guard duty.
Sicily stage 5: Home roads for Nibali
Sterrati: The ‘antis’ say it’s a gimmick, the ‘pros’ say it harps back to a time when ‘men were men’ and racing wasn’t about watts and Vo2 max. As the kids say, ‘whatever’ but it is damned impressive standing at the top of the Finestre watching the drama unfold on those dirt hair pins below you – hopefully Stage 19 may see me back up there?
Stage 19: Probably the big day of the 2018 Giro d’Italia
Conclusions?: Israel apart a pretty traditional Giro route taking in Sicily and the whole of the ‘boot’ plus the inevitable mountain ranges in the north.
Will Dumoulin defend his Giro’17 win?
Froome should win. His realistic opposition would have been Dumoulin but if I was the Dutchman and his team management I’d say there’s never been a better time to go for the Tour with the Giro in Froome’s legs.
The final stage in Rome should take in the Colosseum as it did for the 2009 ITT
And whilst I say ‘Froome should win’ he’ll try to do it as he did with his Tour/Vuelta double, this year. That is to say, without going too deep in the Giro and coming in a little ‘under done’ – and that could be his undoing if the likes of Landa and Aru have the confidence to challenge the mighty Sky Train early.
Will Landa attack his old teammate Froome, and will Aru ride the 2018 Giro?
But it’ll be nice when those planes touch down in Sicily and the Giro starts, for real.
Giro d’Italia 2018 Route:
Giro d’Italia 2018 Stage Details:
Stage 1 — May 4, Jerusalem West 9.7km Individual Time Trial
Stage 2 — May 5, Haifa – Tel Aviv 167km
Stage 3 — May 6, Be’er Sheva – Eilat 229km
Rest day — May 7
Stage 4 — May 8, Catania – Caltagirone 191km
Stage 5 — May 9, Agrigento – Santa Ninfa (Valle del Belice) 152km
Stage 6 — May 10, Caltanissetta – Etna 163km
Stage 7 — May 11, Pizzo – Praia A Mare 159km
Stage 8 — May 12, Praia A Mare – Montevergine Di Mercogliano 208km
Stage 9 — May 13, Pesco Sannita – Gran Sasso d’Italia 224km
Rest day — May 14
Stage 10 — May 15, Penne – Gualdo Tadino 239 km
Stage 11 — May 16, Assisi – Osimo 156km
Stage 12 — May 17, Osimo – Imola 213km
Stage 13 — May 18, Ferrara – Nervesa Della Battaglia 180km
Stage 14 — May 19, San Vito Al Tagliamento – Monte Zoncolan 181km
Stage 15 — May 20, Tolmezzo – Sappada 176km
Rest day — May 21
Stage 16 — May 22, Trento – Rovereto 34.5km Individual Time Trial
Stage 17 — May 23, Franciacorta Stage (Riva del Garda – Iseo) 155km
Stage 18 — May 24, Abbiategrasso – Prato Nevoso 196km
Stage 19 — May 25, Venaria Reale – Bardonecchia 181km
Stage 20 — May 26, Susa – Cervinia 214km
Stage 21 — May 27, Rome – Rome, 118km
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,500 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.