Which stages will define the 2023 Giro D’Italia?

Which stages will define the 2023 Giro D’Italia?
Remco Evenepoel, left, and Primoz Roglic, right, will be two of the biggest protagonists in Italy during May
Remco Evenepoel, left, and Primoz Roglic, right, will be two of the biggest protagonists in Italy during May
Across 3,489 kilometres and three weeks of racing, we will find out who will be this year’s champion, lifting one of the most iconic trophies in sport in Rome on May 28th.

But, not every one of the 21 stages are equal and certain moments of the Giro will define the winner. Here, Flashscore looks at five potential game-changing days on the bike that should control the destiny of the maglia rosa.

Stage Seven: Capua - Gran Sasso D’Italia

It’s no real shock to see that two names have been put above the rest to win in the Italian capital at the end of the month. Remco Evenepoel (23) and Primoz Roglic (33) are set for a duel that could become historic. They have already faced off once this season at the mountainous stage race Volta a Catalunya, with the Slovenian Roglic coming out on top, riding defensively to withstand the attacks of his younger Belgian rival. 

The first proper sort-out of the Giro hierarchy will come on stage seven, a 218km day in the saddle with nearly 4,000m of elevation gain. It is a stage that will be decided late on with the final quarter of the stage climbing steadily with a final 4.4km ramp averaging at 8.2%.

In terms of a real climbing test, that last ascent will give viewers and riders alike the strongest idea of who is climbing best at this early stage of the race. 

Given the steadiness of the ascent, it feels perfectly suited for Evenepoel, who is chasing a second-straight grand tour title having won La Vuelta A Espana back in September of 2022, to take time on his rivals. The likes of Roglic, Joao Almeida (24), Jay Vine (27) and former Giro winner - the only one on the startlist - Tao Geohegan Hart (28) will all feel they have what it takes to hang with the Belgian on this summit finish and this will give everyone a good indication of the tactics we are likely to see play out over the next 14 stages. 

Look out for isolated General Classification (GC) leaders on this stage, but not big time gaps.

Stage Nine: Savignano Sul Rubicone - Cesena 

With three time-trials in this year’s race, it is safe to say all of them could play a pivotal part in the race. The first comes on the opening day before they visit Cesena on stage nine - one day before the first rest day - for one of the purest time trials ever seen in a grand tour.

The 35km test against the clock is technically downhill as the riders lose nine metres of elevation along the way, but, realistically, this is a true test of power, aerodynamics and equipment.

For those climbers, who are not well-suited to the time trials, this is a scary stage, where they could bleed time to the likes of Roglic and Evenepoel. Those who could struggle are Domenico Pozzovivo (40), Hugh Carthy (28) and Geoghegan Hart (28). 

The two big favourites are pretty evenly matched on this sort of profile, however, in a similar stage at last year’s Vuelta, Evenepoel put 48 seconds into the Slovenian over 30.9kms. It does seem though that Roglic is in better form than he was during that race, meaning he could have closed the gap on his rival. 

The gap between the two will perfectly set up the final week of racing, showing us who will have to go on the attack - likely Roglic - and who will have time to play with. 

The stage winner, though, feels obvious - Filippo Ganna (26).

Stage 13: Borgofranco D’Ivera - Crans Montana

The final week of the Giro is back loaded with monster stages of serious distance coupled with mega elevation gain. The first of these comes on May 19th and stage 13 where the riders will reach the highest point of the race - the Cima Coppi - which stands at 2,469m above sea level atop the Col du Grand Saint-Bernard.

The climb comes early in the stage but at 34km long with an average gradient of 5.5%, it’s not to be sniffed at. For whoever crests the mountain first will write their name into the history books and pick up a tasty prize to boot.

But, the whole stage together will be keeping some riders up at night. With a long day in the saddle of 207 km and a total elevation gain of 5,100m, this will test everyone in the peloton. 

Looking at what could play out on the day, Evenepoel has reportedly spent a lot of his time in recent weeks up at altitude training for days like this. He showed what good form he was in, coming back down from the volcanic outcrop of Mount Teide to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege for a second-straight year. 

But, we have never seen him face this type of climbing in what could be very cool conditions and he goes into this passage of the race, whether in the lead or not, not knowing exactly what is going to happen.

Alongside this, teams like Jumbo-Visma, Bahrain-Victorious, UAE Team Emirates and the Ineos Grenadiers look to have picked teams that could pounce on any weakness from the Belgian or his team Soudal Quick-Step. This will be their first real test of the race and could leave their leader isolated, chasing multiple attacks. Whatever happens, we are likely to get some enthralling racing. 

Look out for Almeida on this stage. His metronomic style is perfect for long climbs where he can pace himself and drag himself back into contention.

Stage 19: Longarone - Tre Cime Di Lavaredo 

The queen stage of the race, the final big day in the mountains, sees the riders head into the Dolomites for a 183-kilometre day of racing with another 5,000+ metres of climbing that will test all of them after three weeks in the saddle.

The race finishes up the iconic Tre Cime Di Lavaredo, which not only packs a punch with its incredible vista, but the road up there is just as tough. Before then though, the riders face two category two climbs and three category one climbs - the hardest of the race - including the infamous Passo Giau, last used in 2021 when Egan Bernal (26) descended into the finish at Cortina D’Ampezzo to win his first Giro D’Italia title in dominant fashion. 

The peloton will once again visit that ski town on Stage 20, but they will turn their bikes towards the skies and head up to the summit finish of Tre Cime. The last time we saw a stage finish atop it was in 2013 as Vincenzo Nibali sealed his overall win in a snowstorm, which provided some of the best images from the race in recent years.

In 2023, the weather could play a part, but given we are still weeks away from this epic stage, it’s tough to know what awaits the riders on the final Friday of the race.

On the road, there is almost certain to be fireworks as the guys who have been battling it out throughout the mountainous days will be at the forefront once more. 

For history and for tradition, this stage feels definitive, but what awaits them on the next day could be the stuff of legend or of nightmares.

Stage 20: Tarvisio - Monte Lussari

At just 18.6 kilometres in length, for those uninitiated in cycling, may see this final day as a bit of an anti-climax. However, the final GC stage of the race is possibly one of the maddest we have ever seen.

The first 11.3 kilometres of the route are relatively straightforward before the riders turn onto Monte Lussari, a track up to a church of pilgrimage which will feel like hell for the riders. This climb averages an eye-popping 12.1km, with the first 4.75km averaging in excess of 15% - something that will be difficult to walk up let alone ride a bike. 

Given that it comes on the final real day of competition, there will be a lot of tired legs that will be exposed on those brutal slopes. On his Watts Occurring podcast, former Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas (36) said he has his thoughts primed to this stage and it’s easy to see why given that we could see minutes lost here due to a mechanical or someone’s legs going pop.

Either way, it will feel reminiscent of Stage 20 at the 2020 Tour De France where Tadej Pogacar (24) robbed a fading Roglic to the title on La Planche des Belle Filles. Roglic will hope he can be the thief this time. A truly barbaric time trial fit for a final duel at this year’s Giro.

Follow the Giro D’Italia with daily reports with Flashscore.


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