MILAN (AP) — Next year's Giro d'Italia will honor the 10th anniversary of Marco Pantani's death with several stages dedicated to the Italian climber.
Having already announced that the race will start May 9 with three stages in Northern Ireland and Ireland and finish in Trieste on June 1, the rest of the route was unveiled Monday. Stage 8 from Foligno to Montecupiolo will include the Carpegna climb where Pantani used to train, and uphill finishes in Oropa (stage 14) and Montecampione (stage 15) will recall two of his well-known victories in the race.
Pantani won both the Giro and Tour de France in 1998. He was found dead in a hotel room on Valentine's Day in 2004, and a coroner ruled he died from cocaine poisoning. There are eight stages for sprinters, three time trials — including a team time trial to open the race — and 10 mountain legs.
Gazzetta dello Sport editor Andrea Monti handled the presentation since Giro director and RCS Sport general manager Michele Acquarone is suspended during an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of at least €13 million ($17.7 million). The Gazzetta is controlled by RCS Media Group, which organizes the Giro.
Vincenzo Nibali, this year's Giro champion, attended the presentation, although he has indicated he may skip the race next year to focus on the Tour de France. Organizers said that Joaquin Rodriguez, who leads the UCI WorldTour rankings after winning the Il Lombardia classic Sunday, will ride the Giro. Also expected back are two-time Giro winner Ivan Basso and Cadel Evans, who won the 2011 Tour de France.
Basso had to withdraw just before the start of this year's Giro due to a cyst on his backside. This year's Tour winner Chris Froome has indicated he will not ride the Giro, while the status of 2008 winner Alberto Contador remains uncertain, as does that of Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour champion who withdrew midway through this year's Giro.
The race will open with a 21.7-kilometer (13.5-mile) team time trial in Belfast. Stage 2 will also start and end in Belfast, while the third leg goes from Armagh to Dublin. After a rest day and transfer back to Italy, the race resumes in southern Italy with a stage ending in Bari.
Stage six in central Italy heads up to Monte Cassino, the site of a major World War II battle. The race's first individual time trial comes on stage 12 with a 46.4 (28-mile) route from Barbaresco to Barolo that honors two of Italy's best-known wines.
The grueling Stelvio climb is back after it couldn't be used this year due to bad weather. It will come in the 16th leg from Ponte di Legno to Val Martello. Stage 19 is another individual time trial, a 26.8-kilometer (16.7-mile) leg from Bassano del Grappa to Cima Grappa.
The penultimate stage 20 is expected to be the race's toughest, capped by a super-steep finish up Monte Zoncolan, before the flat finish in the northeastern port city of Trieste.