The 2006 Giro d'Italia will be a test of all-around skills for riders and teams.
The 2006 Giro d?Italia will be a test of all-around skills for riders and teams. The 21-stage, 3,553.2-km long race across <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?> Italy will consist of 10 flat or rolling stages, eight mountain stages, two individual time trials, and one team trial. The winner will excel on his own and with the help of his supporting cast.
The race will begin in Belgium, where for four days, it will have the feel of a classic. Stage 1 will be a technical six-km time trial with two km of climbing. Stage 2, a flat, 203-km run from Mons to Charleroi/Marcinelle will favor sprinters such as Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) and Robbie McEwen (Davitamon). Stage 3, a 202-km run from Perwez to Namur, will benefit those who like uphill finishes. Stage 4, a 182-km ride from Wanze to Hotton, will be rugged with two climbs, the Cote de Wanne and Stavelot-La Haute Levee, from Liege-Bastogne-Liege. After Stage 4, the riders will have a rest day for the air transfer to Italy.
Stage 5 will be the 2006 Giro?s team time trial. This flat, 38-km run from Piacenza to Cremona should see CSC and Discovery Channel establish themselves as the strongest teams in the race. Stage 6, a 223-km run from Busseto to Forli, will see the sprinters battle for the day?s honors in the hometown of 1958 Giro winner and world champion Ercole Baldini.
Stages 7 and 8 will be the race?s first mountain stages. The former will be a 230-km ride from Cesena to Saltare that will take the riders over the climbs of San Marino , Monte Catria, and Monte delle Cesane. The latter, a 171-km run from Civitanova Marche to Maieletta will end with the race?s first mountaintop finish. Look for the contenders to slug it out on the Passo Lanciano. Stage 9 will return the riders to sea level with a rolling, 127-km run from Francavilla Al Mare to Termoli that a sprinter should win, while Stage 10 will be a rolling, 190-km affair from Termoli to Peschici. The Giro?s second transfer and rest day follows Stage 10.
Stage 11 will be a showdown for the contenders. The flat, 50-km time trial at Pontedera should see riders such as defending champion Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel), Sergei Gontchar (T-Mobile), and Ivan Basso (CSC) battle for the day?s honors. Stage 12, a rugged, 171-km ride from Livorno to Sestri Levante, features Valico Guaitarola and the Passo del Bracco within 25 km of the finish. The hills might create a small bunch sprint or a small escape.
Stage 13, a 216-km ride from Alessandria to La Thuille , begins with a gentle ascent to the base of the Colle San Carlo. The Colle San Carlo, however, is steep. The riders will descend from this climb before ascending to the finish. Stage 14 will be a 224-km ride from Aosta to Domodossola that will take the riders over the Gran San Bernardo and into Switzerland and then up the Passo del Sempione and back into Italy.