Mauro Vegni, organizer of the Giro d’Italia, said Tuesday when unveiling the route of next year’s race that the 100th edition (#Giro100) will celebrate both Italy, by visiting all four corners of the country, and the Giro’s history, by honoring many of its greatest champions. One of the greatest was Gino Bartali, who won the Giro three times, took its KOM title seven times and won 17 stages between 1935 and 1954. And by a strange coincidence, Bartali died 16 years ago at age 85 on May 5—which just happens to be the date that the 2017 Giro starts.
Words: John Wilcockson | Image: Yuzuru Sunada
This image from the 2005 Giro shows the start of stage 9 outside the Gino Bartali Museum of Cycling in Ponte a Ema, just to the south of Florence, where Bartali lived his whole life. Ponte a Ema will see another stage start, stage 11, next May 17.
Following the Giro’s opening five stages on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, the race continues on the mainland with three stages hugging the coastline along the foot of the Italian “boot.” That’s followed by two crucial stages: stage nine to a second summit finish at Blockhaus (famous for witnessing in 1967 the first-ever grand tour stage win by Eddy Merckx) and, after the second rest day, stage 10, a hilly 39.2-kilometer time trial between Foligno and Montefalco, which could have a greater impact on the race than the Blockhaus climb.
Then comes stage 11, which takes in many of the climbs that Bartali trained on during his 20-year pro career. Only the 161-kilometer stage’s opening 15 kilometers are flat. It then heads straight into the mountains, the Apennines, taking in climbs of 16 kilometers, 15 kilometers and 11 kilometers to reach Bagno di Romagna—where the racers then make a 50-kilometer loop that includes the day’s highest climb, Monte Fumaiolo, at an elevation of 4,419 feet (1,347 meters). It may not be the longest or highest stage of the Giro, but whoever wins in Bagno di Romagna will have enhanced the heroic memory of Gino Bartali.