From Turin to Sicily and back to Milan, race celebrates all aspects of Il Bel Paese

Just four days after the route of the 2011 Tour de France was unveiled at the 1970s-built Palais des Congres in Paris, Giro d’Italia Director Angelo Zomegnan used the Barouque splendour of Turin’s Teatro Carignano to set out his race’s route next year.

In Paris on Tuesday, Zomegnan told road.cc that the goal in drawing up the Giro d’Italia route “is always to provide a different race to the Tour de France next year’s race, and we usually manage that,” adding that he thought that aim would be achieved too in next year’s race, which coincides with the 150th anniversary of unification of Italy.

More so than the Tour de France or the Vuelta, the Giro reflects the history of the country to which it belongs – Italy was not yet five decades old when the race was first held, and it played a key role in reuniting the country following the divisions caused by the Fascist era and World War II, providing the backdrop as Italy headed into the years of La Dolce Vita and the Miracolo Economico.

Zomegnan had promised us “a Giro that celebrates 150 years since Italian unification, underlining all the specific things that are important for our country, not just sporting but also cultural, social, political, geographical, artistic, agricultural and gastronomic,” and certainly the route doesn’t disappoint, with plenty of nods to Il Bel Paese’s heritage as the race passes through 17 out of Italy’s 20 regions.

Those references include a stage that starts in Reggio Emilia, birthplace of the tricolore flag, while one of the great set pieces of next year’s race is likely to be a double ascent of Mount Etna on a stage that starts in Vuelta winner Vincenzo Nibali’s home city of Messina.

The three-week race starts and finishes with races against the clock, the first a team time trial from the Royal Palace of Venaria Reale into the heart of the Piemontese City, with the final day seeing an individual time trial in Milan.

2011 Giro d'Italia Route

Stage 1    Saturday   7 May   Venaria to Torino, TTT
Stage 2    Sunday     8 May   Alba to Parma
Stage 3    Monday     9 May   Reggio Emilia to Rapallo
Stage 4    Tuesday   10 May   Quarto to Livorno
Stage 5    Wednesday 11 May   Piombino to Orvieto
Stage 6    Thursday  12 May   Orvieto to Fiuggi Terme
Stage 7    Friday    13 May   Maddaloni to Montevergine
Stage 8    Saturday  14 May   Scapri to Tropea
Stage 9    Sunday    15 May   Messina to Etna
           Monday    16 May   Rest day (transfer)
Stage 10   Tuesday   17 May   Termoli to Teramo
Stage 11   Wednesday 18 May   Tortoleto Lido to Castelfidardo
Stage 12   Thursday  19 May   Castelfidardo to Ravenna
Stage 13   Friday    20 May   Splinbergo to Grossglokner (Austria)
Stage 14   Saturday  21 May   Lienz to Zoncolan
Stage 15   Sunday    22 May   Conegliano to Gardeccia
Stage 16   Monday    23 May   Belluno to Nevegal
Stage 17   Tuesday   24 May   Feltre to Sondrio
           Wednesday 18 May   Rest day
Stage 18   Thursday  26 May   Morbegno to San Pellegrino
Stage 19   Friday    27 May   Bergamo to Macugnaga
Stage 20   Saturday  28 May   Verbania to Sestriere
Stage 21   Sunday    29 May   Milano to Milano ITT


Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.