Updated: Giro d'Italia 2013 launched in Milan (with full route video and initial rider reaction video)
Route of next year's race seeks to unite country with opening week in south, middle week in centre and tough conclusion in mountains of the north
The full route of the 2013 Giro d'Italia has been launched this afternoon in Milan. Starting with a sprint stage in Naples and finishing with another in Brescia, the race is pitched as one that can unite Italy as it continues to face economic and political problems, with the first week heading into the deep south, the second seeing a brief visit to the centre and a tough final week in the mountains of the north.
There are three time trials - a 17.4km team time trial on Stage 2, a 55km individual time trial on Stage 8, and an 18.9km mountain time trial on Stage 18.
Key mountain stages include Stage 15, which heads across the French border for a finish on the Galibier, and the penultimate stage which looks like being a very tough day in the Dolomites, potentially decisive for the general classification, with a finish at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Alberto Contador, winner of the 2008 Giro but stripped of his follow-up success in 2011, was at today's presentation in Milan, and the amount of time trialling would be likely to make him favourite if he starts.
At the moment, that remains a big 'if' - we'll only start getting a clearer idea of where specific riders see their 2013 goals lying once the Tour de France route is announced in Paris in a little over three weeks' time.
While the amount of time trialling may be tempting for Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, the Giro's climbs may not suit his style of riding, instead favouring more attacking riders such as Contador or last year's Giro runner-up, Joaquin Rodriguez. Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal will be happier with two individual time trial stages than Rodriguez, however.
Also at the launch was Mark Cavendish, who lost his grip on the points jersey on the final road stage, Rodriguez, who was trying to defend the maglia rosa rather than take the red jersey, replacing him at the top of that classification on the day Thomas De Gendt rode to a solo win on the Stelvio.
While Cavendish's destination for 2013 remains unclear, he gave a welcome to the Giro's route, identifying seven stages that could potentially end in a sprint finish, including that final day in Brescia. He's had a couple of spells in the maglia rosa before, and that opening stage in Naples looks tailor-made to give him an opportunity to wear it again.
Cavendish, alongside Contador, Hesjedal, Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali, give their initial thoughts on the 2013 route in a video that also includes an appearance by race director Michele Acquarone, who outlines his aim that the Giro should not be one race, but 21 different races.
In the year in which Florence hosts the UCI Road World Championships, there's also a stage that finishes in the Tuscan city, dedicated to the memory of its most famous cycling son and wartime hero, Gino Bartali.
Giro d'Italia 2013 stage by stage
Napoli - Napoli 156km Flat
Ischia - Forio 17.4km TTT
Sorrento - Marina di Ascea 212km Medium mountain
Policastro Bussentino - Serra San Bruno 244km Medium mountain
Cosenza - Matera 199km Flat
Mola di Bari - Margherita di Savoia 154km Flat
San Salvo - Pescara 162km Medium mountain
Gabicce Mare - Saltara 55.5km ITT
San Sepolcro - Firenze 181km Medium mountain
Cordenons - Altopiano del Montasio 167km High mountain
Tarvisio (C. del Predil)-Vajont (Erto e Casso) 184km Medium mountain
Longarone - Treviso 127km Flat
Busseto - Cherasco 242km Flat
Cervere - Bardonecchia 156km High mountain
Cesana Torinese-Col du Galibier (Valloire) 150km High mountain
Valloire - Ivrea 237km Medium mountain
Caravaggio - Vicenza 203km Flat
Mori - Polsa 19.4km ITT (mountain)
Ponte di Legno - Val Martello/Martelltal 138km High mountain
Silandro/Schlanders-Tre Cime di Lavaredo 202km High mountain
Riese Pio X - Brescia 199km Flat
More to follow, including reaction.