The Giro d’Italia organiser presented its 2012 route on Sunday at the Studio 2000 in Milan, where it will finish May 27. The route, starting in Denmark on May 5, holds its punches and recoils after this year’s folly.

“It’s not easy to do our work, every year to please everyone: the riders, the sponsors, the teams…” race director, Michele Acquarone said. “I hope you like this course.”

The three-week course will be more human, with fewer transfers and more of a northern feel. With three stages in Denmark and a flight to Verona, there is little time to dip down to the land of mozzerla and mafia before the final mountainous showdown in the Alps.

Angelo Zomegnan took the race down to Sicily last year to celebrate 150 years since Italy’s unification. It required many long drives between stages and, for the caravan, a 10-hour drive to Termoli. The riders flew, but the feeling remained: the Giro had gone overboard.

Organiser RCS Sport replaced Zomegnan with Acquarone, who is only the fifth Giro director in 100 years. Acquarone favoured Mark Cavendish and other sprinters with more sprint finishes and penalised time trialists (only 72.4 kilometres in three stages).

“The Giro is a tough race – it has to be, it’s in our DNA,” Acquarone told Cycling Weekly, “but we will have be balanced, which means after a tough stage riders will be able to recover with an easier stage.”

The icing on his cake, as the Italians prefer their Giro, is in the final week. The race returns to the mythical climbs – Stelvio, Mortirolo and Pampeago – and hits some unknown spots – Cervinia and Cortina.

The Giro held its punches on the penultimate day to the Stelvio Pass. The organiser wanted to break the Grand Tour record books, climbing an unpaved road above the pass to reach 2832 metres, but instead stuck to the traditional 2,758-metre mark, where it last passed in 2005.

A 31.5-kilometre time trial in Milan closes the Giro. The race will likely see fewer favourites in Milan on May 27 than at the studio today. It benefited from presenting the race the day after the Giro di Lombardia, but, as usual, suffers due to its calendar spot between the classics and the Tour de France.

“Having seen the 2012, I can say I’d love to race it,” said this year’s winner, Alberto Contador. “It’s not as tough as the 2011 route, but you can’t say it lacks mountains or mountaintop finishes. With the time trials, it’s balanced.”

Contador attended the race presentation, but he, the Schleck brothers, Michele Scarponi, Vincenzo Nibali and Jurgen Van den Broeck will skip the race. Cadel Evans, Chris Froome and Vuelta a España winner, Juan José Cobo have written their names in pencil. Who’s left? Two-time winner Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunego, Janez Brajkovic, Jakob Fuglsang and Sky’s Rigoberto Urán.

Giro d’Italia 2012: Stages

Stage 1, May 5: Herning – Herning, 8.7km TT

Stage 2, May 6: Herning – Herning, 206km

Stage 3, May 7: Horsens – Horsens, 190km

Rest day, May 8

Stage 4, May 9: Verona – Verona, 32.2km TTT

Stage 5, May 10: Modena – Fano, 199km

Stage 6, May 11: Urbino – Porto Sant’Elpidio, 207km

Stage 7, May 12: Recanati – Rocca di Cambio, 202km

Stage 8, May 13: Sulmona – Lago Laceno, 229km

Stage 9, May 14: S. Giorgio del Sannio – Frosinone, 171km

Stage 10, May 15: Civitavecchia – Assisi, 187km

Stage 11, May 16: Assisi – Montecatini Terme, 243km

Stage 12, May 17: Seravezza – Sestri Levante, 157km

Stage 13, May 18: Savona – Cervere, 121km

Stage 14, May 19: Cherasco – Cervinia, 205km

Stage 15, May 20: Busto Arsizio – Pian dei Resinelli, 172km

Rest day, May 21

Stage 16, May 22: Limone del Garda – Falzes, 174km

Stage 17, May 23: Falzes – Cortina d’Ampezzo, 187km

Stage 18, May 24: San Vito Cadore – Vedelago, 139km

Stage 19, May 25: Treviso – Alpe di Pamepago, 197km

Stage 20, May 26: Caldes – Passo dello Stelvio, 218km

Stage 21, May 27: Milano – Milano, 31.5km TT

Total: 3476.4km

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