Samedi 7 mai : Etape 1, Venaria Reale – Turin, 21,5 km
The official route guide given out in Turin describes the 2011 Giro as 'the toughest race in the most beautiful place'. The 2011 Giro certainly looks the toughest race on the map, with 40 major mountain climbs and seven mountain finishes.
The route visits 17 of the 20 regions of Italy during the three weeks of racing. After the team time trial in Turin, stage two heads to Parma and then Reggio Emilia and then heads south down the Tyrrhenian coast, with a finish in the Tuscan port of Livorno and via the Umbrian town of Orvieto after a 13km section of dirt road in the final 50km of the stage.
The first mountain finish is at Montevergine di Mercogliano near Naples. It is where Damiano Cunego won in 2004 and first indicated he would go on to dominate that Giro.
The Giro touches the toe of the Italian peninsular after a week of racing with a finish in Tropea and then takes the ferry to Sicily for a mountain on the slopes of Etna. The Giro climbs the active volcano twice: first to the Citelli refuge at 1631 metres with a 18km at an average of 6.1%. The stage then dives back down the Mediterranean coast before climbing for 19.4km at an average of 6.3% to the Sapienza refuge at an altitude of 1904 metres. The stage will be the Giro's equivalent of a finish on Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France.
The riders enjoy the first rest after the Etna stage but first have to fly to Termoli on the eastern Adriatic coast. The second week of the race heads north up the Adriatic with finishes in Teramo after a ride along the coast, and then in Castelfidardo after an up and down 160km in the hills. Stage 12 finishes in Ravenna and is on of the few stages perfect for the sprinters.
Another road transfer takes the race to the foot of the Dolomites and marks the start of the mountain stages. Stage 13 on Friday May 20 heads into Austria for a finish on the slopes of the Grossglockner. The 13.6km climb starts gently but then ramps up all the way to the finish with a final two kilometres at 10.7 per cent.
Stage 14 and 15 pass through what was the front line during a long war with Austria. Stage 14 finishes with the climb to Monte Zoncolan, where Basso fought out a duel with Cadel Evans this year. Stage 15 includes five major climbs, including the Passo Giau, that is the highest climb of the Giro at 2236 metres and so will award the prestigious Cima Coppi prize. The stage ends with just a 6.2km climb but it has an average gradient of 10 per cent with two short sections at 16 per cent at the start and finish.
The 2010 Giro included a mountain time trial to Plan des Corones. In 2011, the only time trial mid-Giro is 12.7km cronoscalata between Belluno and Nevegal.
So many mountain stages are usually enough to complete a Giro. In 2011 there are even more. Three transfer stages across the Lombardy region takes the Giro east for the mountain finale on the Colle delle Finestre.
It was climbed for the first time in 2005, when Paolo Savoldelli managed to hang on to the maglia rosa. It is 18.5km long and climbs at 9.2 per cent, with the second half is on dirt roads. The tifosi packed the summit of the climb, instantly making it a legendary stage.
If all the climbing the dirt roads and the final climb to Sestriere does not decide the Giro, the final 32.8km individual time trial around Milan will, with the winner of the maglia rosa crowned in the shadows of the Milan Duomo.
Dimanche 8 mai : Etape 2, Alba – Parme, 242 km
Lundi 9 mai : Etape 3, Reggio Emilia – Rapallo, 178 km
Mardi 10 mai : Etape 4, Quarto dei Mille – Livourne, 208 km
Mercredi 11 mai : Etape 5, Piombino – Orvieto, 201 km
Jeudi 12 mai : Etape 6, Orvieto – Fiuggi Terme, 195 km
Vendredi 13 mai : Etape 7, Maddaloni – Montevergine di Mercogliano, 100 km
Samedi 14 mai : Etape 8, Sapri – Tropea, 214 km
Dimanche 15 mai : Etape 9, Messine – Etna, 159 km
Lundi 16 mai : Repos Mardi 17 mai : Etape 10, Termoli – Teramo, 156 km
Mercredi 18 mai : Etape 11, Tortoreto Lido – Castelfidardo, 160 km
Jeudi 19 mai : Etape 12, Castelfidardo – Ravenne, 171 km
Vendredi 20 mai : Etape 13, Spilimbergo - Grossglockner, 159 km
Samedi 21 mai : Etape 14, Lienz – Monte Zoncolan, 210 km
Dimanche 22 mai : Etape 15, Conegliano - Gardeccia Val di Fassa, 230 km
Lundi 23 mai : Repos Mardi 24 mai : Etape 16, Belluno – Nevegal, 12,7 km (CLM individuel)
Mercredi 25 mai : Etape 17, Feltre – Sondrio, 246 km
Jeudi 26 mai : Etape 18, Morbegno – San Pellegrino Terme, 147 km
Vendredi 27 mai : Etape 19, Bergame – Macugnana, 211 km
Samedi 28 mai : Etape 20, Verbania – Sestrières, 242 km
Dimanche 29 mai : Etape 21, Milan – Milan, 32,8 km (CLM individuel)