'More human' Giro route unveiled
The route for the 2012 Giro d'Italia will be easier than in recent years when it has been labelled "inhuman" and riders are expected to spend less time on between-stages transfers.
The Tour, whose route was unveiled on Sunday, will start with a 8.7-km individual time trial in Herning, Denmark, on May 5 and after three days fly to Italy.
With the first week set to favour sprint specialists, the Giro should be decided in the final week, with the penultimate stage, a 218-km mountain trek ending with the tough climb to the Stelvio, likely to create significant gaps.
The race ends on May 27 with a 31.5-km individual time trial in Milan, the third such test against the clock after the first stage and a team time trial in Verona.
Unlike last year, when exhausting, high mountain stages were lined up in succession with long, energy-sapping transfers, the 2012 route features a flat stage between two mountain treks in the final week.
"This Giro will be more human," said 2011 champion Alberto Contador of Spain, who has already announced he will not be taking part but focussing instead on the Tour de France.
"There are more 'recovery stages' and although I don't think I'll take part, it seems to be a very interesting route," he added.
Riders have complained in the past about the Giro route, with former director Angelo Zomegnan accused of setting up a 'freak show'.
Zomegnan has been replaced by Michele Acquarone, who has promised he will take riders' demands into consideration.
May 5, stage 1: Herning (Denmark)- Herning, 8.7 km (individual time trial)
May 6, stage 2: Herning - Herning, 206 km
May 7, stage 3: Horsens (Denmark)- Horsens, 190 km
May 8: Rest day
May 9, stage 4: Verona - Verona, 32.2 km team time trial
May 10, stage 5: Modena - Fano, 199 km
May 11, stage 6: Urbino - Porto Sant'Elpidio, 207 km
May 12, stage 7: Recanati - Rocca di Cambio, 202 km
May 13, stage 8: Sulmona - Lago Laceno, 229 km
May 14, stage 9: San Giorgio nel Sannio - Frosinone, 171 km
May 15, stage 10: Civitavecchia - Assisi, 187 km
May 16, stage 11: Assisi - Montecatini Terme, 243 km
May 17, stage 12: Seravezza - Sestri Levante, 157 km
May 18, stage 13: Savona - Cervere, 121 km
May 19, stage 14: Cherasco - Cervinia, 205 km
May 20, stage 15: Busto Arsizio - Lecco/Pian dei Resinelli, 172 km
May 21: rest day
May 22, stage 16: Limone sul Garda - Falzes/Pfalzen, 174 km
May 23, stage 17: Falzes/Pfalzen - Cortina d'Ampezzo, 187 km
May 24, stage 18: San Vito di Cadore - Vedelago, 139 km
May 25, stage 19: Treviso - Alpe di Pampeago, 197 km
May 26, stage 20: Caldes/Val di Sole - Passo dello Stelvio, 218 km