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Giro organizer plans Oropa and Montecampione visits for 2014

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Sep. 16, 2013
  • Updated May. 6, 2014 at 11:03 AM EDT
Marco Pantani's bold Oropa win came one week before he left the Giro d'Italia in disgrace. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

MILAN (VN) — Giro d’Italia organizer RCS Sport will unveil a Barolo time trial stage in Las Vegas Wednesday and other details of the 2014 route have leaked to the media ahead of the official announcement on October 7. According to Italian daily Tutto Sport, the 2014 edition will remain for two more days in the Piedmont region, including a climb to the Oropa Sanctuary. The race’s penultimate weekend will close with the nearby Montecampione climb on Sunday, May 25.

The Oropa stage on May 24, the weekend before the Giro d’Italia finishes in Trieste, should honor the 10th anniversary of Marco Pantani’s death. The Italian climber won at the Santuario di Oropa in 1999, six days before his world fell apart in Madonna di Campiglio. An anti-doping test showed a high hematocrit level, indicating EPO use. He quit the race as the overall leader in disgrace and in 2004, died of a cocaine overdose.

According to Tutto Sport, the Giro will time trial through the wine valleys from Barbaresco to Barolo on May 22, round Turin for Rivarolo Canavese on May 23 and, finishing off three days in the northwest region, race up to Oropa.

UNESCO lists the sanctuary as a World Heritage site but cycling fans remember it for some of cycling’s darker days. There in 1999, Pantani suffered a mechanical, recovered, passed 49 riders in the final eight kilometers, and won the stage. Those were the heydays of EPO doping, nearly one year after the Festina Affaire nearly stopped the Tour de France.

The 2014 Giro d’Italia takes a different approach for its fifth visit. According to Tutto Sport, the stage will start in Agilè instead of Racconigi and, like in 1993, climb Bielmonte. The road to Oropa rises for 13km to reach 3,851 feet. Marzio Bruseghin last won here when the Giro featured a mountain time trial in 2007.

With an international start in Belfast, the 2014 Giro’s trip across the mainland of Italy appears compact. The race opens with three days in Northern Ireland before returning to Italy. Following Saturday’s ride to Oropa, Sunday’s stage start is just 20km south in Valdengo.

Sunday’s stage cuts through Lombardy’s industrial zones, towards Bergamo and up to the Montecampione ski resort, according to Tutto Sport. The road climbs 20km at an average of 7.5 percent, with a maximum of 11 percent. The Giro visited the ski station in 1982, just after the road was lengthened to the Montecapione’s Altopiano. It returned in 1998, when “Il Pirata” Pantani won. With the finish at 5,721 feet, the Montecapione climb will go a long way toward determining the Giro’s champion one week later.

RCS Sport will make the details of these stages and the entire 2014 Giro official when it announces the route on October 7, the day after its Giro di Lombardia. It unveiled a stage finishing on Monte Zoncolan and the Trieste finish on Friday. Earlier that day, it sent out invitations for its Las Vegas event at the Interbike tradeshow.

FILED UNDER: Giro d'Italia / Road TAGS: / /

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown

Bikes kept Gregor Brown out of trouble growing up in Oklahoma — BMX, freestyle and then watching Greg LeMond's Tour de France wins on CBS television's weekend highlights shows. The drama of the 1998 Tour, however, truly drew him into the fold. With a growing curiosity in European races and lifestyle, he followed his heart and established camp on Lake Como's shores in 2004. Brown has been following the Giro, the Tour and every major race in Europe since 2006. He will tell you it is about the "race within the race" – punching out the news and running to finish – but he loves a proper dinner, un piatto tipico ed un vino della zona.

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