SAT 8 MAY / 8.6KM ITT Turin Turin

The Giro begins with a short, pan-flat time trial around Turin, which shouldn’t result in large gaps. The odds are in favour of Filippo Ganna claiming the pink jersey following the opening test, just as he did in 2020. For the GC riders, it will be a race of seconds and small but meaningful gaps.

SUN 9 MAY / 179KM Stupinigi ( Nichelino) Novara

Stage 2 is an early opportunit­y for the fast men, which this year will include Elia Viviani, Fernando Gavira and Peter Sagan. Across the plains of the River Po, this one doesn’t look like the most exciting, though any respite will be welcome. Finishes in Novara, the second biggest city in Piedmont.

MON 10 MAY / 190KM Biella Canale

A day that will begin pretty slowly, across flat terrain, before the bunch starts seriously climbing for the first time, over three categorise­d climbs. There is a flat finish, but the hilly run- in could disrupt the lead out trains, which could suit someone like a Sagan or Matej Mohorič.

TUE 11 MAY / 186KM Piacenza Sestola

The kings of the breaks might be licking their lips at this one, a stage that starts relatively flat before kicking upwards after 70km or so. The final climb up the Colle Peasserino is the biggest test of the opening days, with 4km at 10 per cent. It’s early for GC action, but a good place to apply pressure.

WED 12 MAY / 175KM Modena Cattolica

Another opportunit­y for the sprinters on stage 5, as the Giro heads to the seaside at Cattolica for the first time since 1978. It won’t be obligatory to watch the whole stage, as there is not a single categorise­d climb the whole day. The sprinters, on the other hand, will be keen to take wins wherever they can.

THUR 13 MAY / 150KM Grotte di Frasassi Ascoli Piceno

A short stage by the standards of the Giro, at just 150km, but it could open up the first serious gaps on GC. The last 17km are all uphill to Ascoli Piceno, with ramps of 10 per cent towards the end. It’s early for a race-winning move, but weakness shown here will be exploited from here on in.

FRI 14 MAY / 181KM Notaresco Termoli

We are back at the seaside for another sprint finish on the Adriatic Coast. The slight climbs in the first 100km might tempt a doomed break from the wildcard teams. The sprint trains should reel them in comfortabl­y, however, before they hit the sea for the final dash to the line.

SAT 15 MAY / 170KM Foggia Guardia Sanframond­i

Foggia is the most southerly point of this year’s Giro, but is still nowhere near the heel, more like the back of the achilles of Italy’s boot. It’s a bumpy, tricky stage with one big test, the Bocca della Selvia. It looks like a breakaway day, and the final climb could prove to be a decisive springboar­d.

SUN 16 MAY / 160KM Castel di Sangro Campo Felice

If the general classifica­tion has not already ignited, expect it to on stage 9. It is only 160km, but the last couple of kilometres are off- road, which could cause splits among the main contenders. Expect attacking racing, and for the possibilit­y of bad luck causing havoc among the favourites.

MON 17 MAY / 139KM L’Aquila Foligno

The organisers have this down as a flat day, but there is an early climb out of L’Aquila, site of a major earthquake in 2009. There is also a categorise­d climb 40 kilometres from the finish, so it could be a heart- in- mouth stage for both sprint teams and breakaway riders if the peloton is tired.

WED 19 MAY / 162KM Perugia Montalcino

It’s gravel again as the Giro travels from Umbria to Tuscany for its wine stage following the first rest day. The peloton will tackle some of the strade bianche which gives the Giro’s sister race its name. Expect chaotic racing across the white roads, and beautiful backdrops of vineyards.

THUR 20 MAY / 209KM Siena

Bagno di Romagna

This stage starts where Strade Bianche ends, but then heads to the mountains with more than 4,000m of climbing. It should suit the breakaway more than GC riders, but nothing can be discounted with four categorise­d climbs across the 209km that are deceptivel­y hard.

FRI 21 MAY / 198KM Ravenna Verona

Maybe the organisers put this stage in to apologise for the lack of a rest day until after the 10th day of racing. It is as flat as flat can be, traversing the Po valley from Ravenna to fair Verona, where the sprinters will lay their scene. There’s little chance of murderous action on this day.

SAT 22 MAY / 204KM Cittadella Monte Zoncolan

This one is big, going up the Zoncolan, which many people consider bike racing’s toughest test. This time the peloton will be going up from Sutrio, which is supposedly the easier route, and has only been raced once before, in the 2003 edition. There will be splits on this day, without any doubt.

SUN 23 MAY / 146KM Grado Gorizia

The 2021 Giro goes internatio­nal. The final circuit around Gorizia crosses into Slovenia four times before a finish on the Italian side of the border. Sadly, Slovenian heroes Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar will be absent, so maybe Mohorič or Jan Tratnik will look to honour their country.

MON 24 MAY / 212KM Sacile Cortina d’Ampezzo

Back in the small ring for the queen stage of this year’s Giro, 5,700m of climbing through the Dolomites. The peloton will seriously be tested at altitude, and it might be the place for GC teams to really battle it out. A rest day beckons afterwards, which all riders will desperatel­y need.

WED 26 MAY / 193KM Canazei Sega di Ala

An interestin­g day as the peloton mostly descends for the opening 90km and doesn’t start climbing until 139km. But then it gets seriously tricky. The Passo San Valentino and then the Sega di Ala act as a quick one-two which could land a knockout blow on many riders.

THUR 27 MAY / 231KM Rovereto Stradella

A treat for the sprinters that remain in the race, as there is a return to the Po valley with a flat finish in Stradella. There are a few bumps in the last 20km which might prove selective, but it depends if anyone has the legs on this long, long day. Otherwise, it’ll be all down to the break.

FRI 28 MAY / 176KM Abbiategra­sso Alpe di Mera

Back to Piedmont for this vertiginou­s stage. The finish up to Alpe di Mera is raced for the first time, with 10km of climbing and ramps of more than 10 per cent towards the end. There is respite in between the climbs, but this is a traditiona­l big final week test, and the final GC will take shape here.

SAT 29 MAY / 164KM Verbania Alpe Motta

One final day of climbing, 4,300m of climbing in fact. The race crosses into Switzerlan­d, deep into the Alps. There’s 30km of climbing up the Passo del San Bernardino, followed by the Passo di Spluga and then Alpe Motta, which will surely decide the winner of this year’s race.

SUN 30 MAY / 29.4KM ITT Senago Milan

A flat time trial into Milan for the second year in a row, which could prove decisive as it did in October. Anything other than a procession is a good thing, with a stage and a race up for grabs. If the GC is still close here, the advantage will be with whichever climber can TT the best.

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