The Giro d’Italia this year will be ridden from May 4th to the 27th. Also known as the Tour of Italy, this is the third major stage race which takes place each year, after the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain. This year it is being ridden for the 101st time in its long history. Following the incredible success of Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin and Team Sunweb in 2017, expectations are running high this year. This year’s Giro promises to be a fanatastic race, which starts in Jerusalem and ends in Rome. There are 21 stages in total. As with all the great stage races, every day’s racing could in theory be equally exciting: but there are 5 stages in particular which our team at The Prologue has picked out as being especially interesting and worth setting loud alerts for in your calendar.

Friday May 4th – The Prologue in Jerusalem

The Giro kicks off on May 4th with the traditional short time trial, known as the prologue. Far less traditional is the location. The rider will race against the clock for 10 kilometers through the streets of Jerusalem. The route is by no means flat, and the stage rolls up and down quite a bit. In the final stretch, the riders will be faced with a short, steep climb which kicks up for around 300 meters to the finish and has an average gradient of 9%. This is the perfect opportunity for Tom the time trial specialist to win the leader’s pink jersey. There’s another time trial on May 22nd which is almost 35 kilometers long. This is certainly an excellent second chance for time trial World Champion Dumoulin to show his strength.

The start of the prologue in Jerusalem

Thursday May 10th – the ascent of Mount Etna

After a couple of stages in Israel, the transfer to Italy and a couple of decent in-between stages during which attacking riders will attempt to prevent a mass sprint, May 10th is likely to be the day when the first blood is drawn in the battle among the contenders for overall victory. Today it will become clear who is in contention for the win and who hasn’t got the legs. And what better stage than the flanks of Mount Etna. This is the first major climb in this year’s Giro and it’s a long one. From foot to summit, the riders have to climb a total of 40 kilometers, and the final 15 have the potential to sort out the men who may win, from the boys who will not. You can’t win the Giro on a day like today, but you can lose it. Not only that, but this stage will likely provide us viewers with some great images – both of the racing and the beautiful Italian landscape.

Saturday May 19th – onwards to the dreaded Monte Zoncolan

While the ascent of Etna will draw first blood, on May 19th it will become abundantly clear who the serious contenders are. In between these two mountain stages there are a few scenic stages through the Italian Appenines, where small scenic mountain villages will provide an attractive backdrop to scenes of attacking riders who are not in the running for the overall prize to aim for a stage win. But on the 19th of May it is the 14th stage and that’s when it’s up to the overall contenders to fight it out on the short but very sharp climb of the Monte Zoncolan. Only 11 kilometers long, but with an average gradient of 12% and in parts inclines of 22%, this will be the arena where the best gladiators show their muscles.

Monte Zoncolan stage in Giro d’Italia 2014 – Photo: Cor Vos

Friday May 25th – The Queen’s Stage

Every Grand Tour has one: the Queen’s Stage. The most prestigious stage to win. That big day is May 25th this year when the riders climb to the summit of the race. The ascent of the Colle Delle Finestre, at 2,178 metres, is for pure climbers only. All of the best climbers who still have the legs want to win this stage, and its special prize: the Cima Coppi, the highest peak. The stage winner receives the most climbing classification points and a considerable cash prize as well as major kudos. The two stages after the Cima Coppi are also worth checking out — both climbing stages, with finishes at the summit.

Saturday May 26th – The Last Chance

The day after the Queen’s Stage also promises fireworks. This stage is really the last chance for the contenders for the overall victory to make a difference. This could well turn out to be the decisive stage for the whole race. If yesterday was the Queen’s stage, then maybe this is the King’s Stage: the riders have to scale three first-category climbs, crossing the line on the summit of the third. This stage is really worth staying at home for the whole day!