The oldest, longest and most prestigious stage race of the year is upon us – The Giro d’Italia Donne.
The 2022 Giro takes place from June 30 to July 10 and will see the stars of the sport compete for the coveted maglia rosa over 10 days and 1000km of racing.
The 33rd edition of the race starts with a trio of island stages in Sardinia, the first of which is a short opening time trial. Following a rest day on July 3 (to enable a transfer to the mainland) the racing resumes with a tricky, hilly fourth stage in Emilia Romagna. The second half of the Giro then sees the route travel through Lombardy, the Alps and then the Dolomites before finishing in Padua with a stage for the sprinters.
Having heeded a lesson from last year – where Anna van der Breggen effectively won the race on stage 2 – the organisers have created a much more open and unpredictable route which could see the maglia rosa exchange hands multiple times. Stages 7, 8 and 9 will be key in deciding who will triumph in what is expected to be a closely fought GC battle.
Stage by Stage Guide
Stage 1 – Cagliari (4.7km TT)
The Giro gets underway on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia with a time trial in the capital, Cagliari. The flat, 4.7km non-technical route has just 3 turns so it’s a course that will favour the powerhouses.
Stage 2 – Villasimius -> Tortolì (117.3km)
Following the prologue, the peloton stay in Sardinia and face a rolling 117.3km stage from Villasimius to Tortolì along the east coast of the island. With a few kickers at the tail end of the day we are likely to see an aggressive finale as the puncheurs and breakaway specialists look to capitalise on the terrain.
Stage 3 – Dorgali (Cala Gonone) -> Olbia (112.7km)
The third stage and final day in Sardinia is one for the sprinters so expect to see the likes of Bastianelli, Wiebes, Norsgaard and Labecki et al vying for stage honours.
Stage 4 – Cesena (120.9km)
Following a travel day, stage 4 (day 5) sees the racing return to the mainland, in the Northern region of Emilia Romagna. Starting and finishing in Cesena, the 120.9km will be a tough re-introduction to racing with 3 challenging climbs.
Stage 5 – Carpi -> Reggio Emilia (123.4km)
A second opportunity for the sprinters arises on stage five with a relatively flat (by Giro standards) 123.4km from Carpi to Reggio Emilia.
Stage 6 – Lake Iseo -> Bergamo (114.7km)
Heading into the second half of the Giro the race moves to Lombardy, where the sixth stage awaits. The 114.7km in the municipality of Sarnico looks like a day for the rouleurs and one where a break could succeed.
Starting on the shores of Lake Iseo the bunch tackle 5 loops of the circuito grumello del monte (which features a punchy climb) before passing through Montello and arriving at the finish in the heart of Bergamo.
Stage 7 – Prevalle -> Passo del Maniva (113.2km)
Stage 7 is the first of a trio of successive stages that will prove pivotal in the GC battle. Leaving the starting town of Prevalle the peloton face a fairly gentle 100km before they reach Collio and the start of the first summit finish of the Giro.
At 9.7km in length, the alpine climb of Passo del Manvia will take the riders to the highest point of this year’s race at 1664m and its slopes may decide who triumphs in the bid for pink. The climb is relentlessly constant with an average gradient of 7.8% and will favour the climbers who enjoy a consistent tempo such as van Vleuten.
Stage 8 – Rovereto -> Aldeno (92.2km)
Moving into the region of Trento, the tough racing continues as stage 8 sees the riders face another mountainous day. After just 40km from the starting town of Rovereto the peloton head onto the climb of Passo Bordala (14.7km / 6.3%) before descending into Aldeno and crossing the finishing line for the first time.
The bunch then loop back on themselves through Villa Lagarina before tackling a demanding 8km ascent up the western side of the Passo Bordala via the the Lago de Cei route. Upon cresting the climb there are just 12 predominantly downhill kilometres to go which should set up an exciting finale.
Stage 9 – San Michele all’Adige -> San Lorenzo Dorsino (112.8km)
Rounding off the trio of decisive stages, the penultimate day is a brutal one as the bunch head into the Dolomites. With three climbs – Fai Della Paganella (11.6km / 6.3%), Passo Durone (10.1km / 5.6%) and Passo Daone (10.7km / 10.9%) – enroute to the finish in San Lorenzo Dorsino it could be a thrilling stage with GC rivals exchanging their final blows.
Stage 10 – Veneto -> Padua (90.8km)
The Giro concludes with a short 90.8km stage from Veneto to Padua through the Euganean Hills. With only one climb to contend with at the 22km mark it should be a day for the sprinters.
GC Riders To Watch
The Giro invariably favours the peloton’s strongest climbers and so we can expect to see the ‘mountain goats’ vying for the GC win.
Last year Team SD Worx took a clean sweep of the podium with Anna van der Breggen, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Demi Vollering claiming the top spots. The Dutch squad will be hoping they can dominate proceedings again this year and, subject to late minute changes to the Giro-Tour selections, will likely go for a dual leadership between Vollering and Moolman-Pasio in a bid to outnumber their rivals. Youngster, Anna Shackley, will also be a rider to watch particularly when the road tilts upwards and the race heads into the Dolomites.
Whilst Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) skipped the Giro last year to focus on the Olympic Games, she is back in 2022 and undoubtedly a big favourite. The Dutch woman has had a quiet year by her standards and, owing to a long stretch of altitude training, has yet to race since her victory at Liege. That said, we have often seen van Vleuten eschew racing for training and her meticulous preparations typically yield race winning performances. She’ll have her eye on the high mountains stages, particularly stage 7’s summit finish and stage 9’s climbing fest where she’ll look to ride away from her competition just as she did in the 2019 Giro.
3rd in 2020, Elisa Longo Borghini will lead the line-up for Trek Segafredo. Longo Borghini has achieved 7 top 10’s in her 10 Giro appearances, but so far the top spot has eluded the 30-year-old. Having recently won the Women’s Tour, confidence will be high, and she’ll be hoping she can make it back-to-back World Tour wins. Meanwhile, teammate and World Champion – Elisa Balsamo – will be eyeing up stage wins and the points jersey.
Fellow Italian Marta Cavalli (FDJ) will also be looking to perform well in her home race. The 24-year-old has had a brilliant season so far with Amstel and Fleche victories. Having recently won the Mont Ventoux Denivele Challenge she is clearly carrying her Ardennes form into the high mountains which should stand her in good stead for when the race heads into the Alps and Dolomites next week. After finishing 6th last year, Cavalli will be hoping she can climb onto the podium this time round.
No Giro preview could omit the legend that is Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma). Overall GC winner in 2011, 2012 and 2014, Vos will be looking to rekindle this GC form in 2022. The Dutch rider has amassed 30 Giro stage wins during her career so far and could very well add even more to this record-breaking tally.
Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon Sram) finished 2nd overall in 2020 and, if she opts for the Giro-Tour double, will look to challenge for a podium spot again this year. Despite a difficult season in 2022, her recent 3rd in the Women’s Tour shows she is finding her form in time for the summer block of racing. Winner of the white jersey in 2016, the Polish rider will be hoping to add a pink one to her ‘jersey wardrobe’ this year.
Fellow white jersey winner (in 2019), Juliette Labous of Team DSM is another rider who could challenge for a podium spot. The French woman won Vuelta a Burgos back in May and has been building up form throughout the year, evidently with the Giro-Tour double in mind. Labous may have preferred a longer TT, but overall, the parcours should suit the 23-year-old well.
Other riders to watch include Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ), Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and Veronica Ewers (EF Education-Tibco-SVB)
When: June 30 to July 10
What: 10 day stage race
Riders to watch:
Annemiek van Vleuten ****
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio ***
Juliette Labous ***
Marta Cavalli ***
Elisa Longo Borghini ***