Preview: Giro d’Italia Women 2024

First held in 1988, the Giro d’Italia Women is one of the longest standing stage races on the women’s professional calendar. 2024 will be the 35th edition of the race, which has been ratified by the UCI as part of the Women’s World Tour since its inception in 2016, with the exception of 2021 following a dispute over a lack of television coverage.

This year sees a few changes, with another new name – formerly the Giro d’Italia Femminile, the Giro Rosa and most recently the Giro Donne, new organisers RCS bring the race nominally in line with the men’s equivalent from this year onwards. The race also decreases in terms of number of stages, dropping from the traditional ten to eight stages, in an attempt to homogenise the three women’s Grand Tours (the Tour de France Femmes and Vuelta Femenina both also have eight stages). It also moves back a week on the calendar.

The women will take on 856.6 kilometres and a total altitude gain of 11,950m across the eight stages. The race takes place from 7-14 July.

 

The Route

Stage 1 – Sunday 7 July – Brescia – Brescia – 14.6km (Tudor ITT)

Taking place around the city of Brescia, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, the first stage of the 2024 Giro d’Italia Women is a race of truth, as the women ride against the clock in an individual time trial.

Beginning in the city centre and heading north for the first half of the stage, the out and back route sees the peloton tackle the Colle Cidneo on their return to the city centre in the final quarter of the profile. It’s a small climb up to Brescia Castle that will sap the energy in the latter stages of the time trial and will make the difference to the final results.

Riders will set off in an order determined by the organisers, since there are no pre-existing GC standings to work from, and the results at the end of the day will set up the overall classification heading into the rest of the race.

 

Stage 2 – Monday 8th July – Sirmione – Volta Mantovana – 102km (Flat)

The first road stage of the race is relatively short, the shortest road stage of this year’s edition in fact, and it features very little in the way of climbing, meaning that it’s almost certain to be one for the sprinters.

Beginning in Sirmione, on the banks of beautiful Lake Garda, the route takes the peloton along the lakeside and slightly uphill for the first 10km, which will offer riders keen to make the race’s first early break the chance to escape the bunch. From there, the route turns south toward the finish destination of Volta Mantovana, remaining in the Lombardy region for a 20km circuit and concluding in what could be the race’s first bunch sprint finish. Changes on the general classification are unlikely after this stage.

 

Stage 3 – Tuesday 6th July – Sabbioneta – Toano – 111km (Hilly)

The pressure will begin to build on stage 3, as the difficulty increases. This backloaded stage begins in Sabbioneta, as the race begins in Lombardy for a third day, before heading south into the Reggio Emilia region, and the Apennine mountain range, which will provide the final challenge on today’s stage.

After around 75km of relatively flat roads as the race winds its way through the Po Valley, with an intermediate sprint in the centre of the route at 59km, the profile begins to kick up ahead of the first categorised climb of the race, and the race’s first summit finish, the category 2 ascent into Toano. While the climb is only a category 2, it represents 11km of ascent at a 6% average gradient, and will separate the bunch and invite those vying for general classification to stake an early claim on the upper echelons of the leaderboard. It’s not the toughest ascent however, so a small bunch may still arrive together at the finish line, in which case a reduced bunch sprint will decide the day’s victor.

 

Stage 4 – Wednesday 7th July – Imola – Urbino – 131km (Hilly)

The second consecutive hilly stage in the Apennines, stage 4 is a trickier prospect, though once again, it begins with a long flat segment of racing, along the Via Emilia from Imola south and east, traversing into the Marche region where the terrain becomes distinctly more lumpy.

Three categorised climbs are on the menu for stage 4. The category 2 ascent to San Marino will likely separate the bunch as the attacking begins, and there’s little opportunity for things to come back together as a series of smaller bumps and a short descent leads into the category 3 Monte Osteriaccia climb, which comes with 25km remaining to the finish. From there, a swift descent leads to yet more climbing, an intermediate sprintin Gadana, just 6km from the finish, and the final kicker up to the finish line in Urbino, which is also rated category 2 and should see the puncheurs duking it out for the stage win.

 

Stage 5 – Thursday 8th July – Frontone – Foligno – 111km (Hilly)

A third consecutive hilly stage, while stage 5 features a number of ups and downs, there is just one categorised climb, which arrives early in the stage, meaning the day could go in favour of the sprinters, depending on how the race situation plays out.

The beautiful green hills of Frontone provide the backdrop for the stage start, and from there, it’s just 14km until the only QOM of the day, a category 3 ascent into Morello. This should give breakaway hopefuls an opportunity to get away, and from there the peloton covers rolling terrain for the rest of the day, far from flat but without the difficulties that will separate them, and with around 25km, it’s downhill all the way, which will make it difficult for a breakaway to stay clear unless they are particularly determined.

Foligno is the final destination, and it’s likely to be a day for the sprinters to test their legs.

 

Stage 6 – Friday 9th July – San Benedetto del Tronto – Chieti – 155km (Hilly)

The longest road stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia Women features a round number of altitude metres gained – 2000 – but almost nothing in the way of flat. It’s a real day of ups and downs, with plenty of uncategorised climbs alongside the three categorised ones, which come at 73km, 116km and at the finish.

It’s a day which will see the GC riders go to work, so expect plenty of attacking as both strong climbers and accomplished descenders will be able to gain advantages as the race moves from valley to valley.

Beginning on the Adriatic Coast and heading yet further south, the race finishes with a nasty ascent into the town of Chieti. Though only third category according to the profile, the short, punchy climb features gradients in double figures in places, and once again, the punchiest riders will have their sights set on a stage win.

 

Stage 7 – Saturday 10th July – Lanciano – Blockhaus – 123km (Mountain)

The Queen stage of this year’s race begins in Lanciano in the Abruzzo region of Italy and heads inland towards the Apennines once again to face a double climb that will be decisive in the general classification.

The first 60km of the profile are far from easy, with relentless ups and downs as the race heads west, but they are nothing compared to what awaits on the second half of the day’s route. Two category 1 ascents will truly test the legs and separate the bunch, beginning with the Passo Lanciano, the first part of the final climb, before the route heads round in a loop to tackle it again, this time with the addition of the infamous Blockhaus. 21.7km in length and with an average gradient of 7.8%, the climb is long an arduous with many twists and turns in the lower slopes, and the accumulated fatigue from the repeated ascents, a total of 3600m altitude gain across the stage, will determine the riders capable of winning the maglia rosa in 2024.

 

Stage 8 – Sunday 11th July – Pescara – L’Aquila – 109km (Mountain)

The final stage of the race will see business concluded in the general classification and one final stage win to fight for. Returning to the Adriatic Sea, Pescara hosts the departure of the final stage, another relatively short one in terms of total distance, though what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in difficulty, with 2,500m of climbing to contend with before the finish line in the capital city of the Abruzzo region, L’Aquila, rolls into view.

Heading inland once more from the coast, the day begins with just 9km on flat roads before the profile heads upwards, requiring the peloton to climb for almost 80km of its total distance. The first categorised ascent of the day is the cat 2 Forca di Penne, and by its summit the bunch will already have been climbing for around 35km. A short respite follows as they descend to the foot of the biggest test of the day, the category 1 Castel del Monte, a stunning medieval and Renaissance town set on the hillside that will provide a breath-taking backdrop to the final hostilities.

From its summit, just a short descent kicks the riders up a final, uncategorised climb, with an intermediate sprint point at the top, before 16km of steep descending lead them into the final opportunity to go for glory, with just 13km to the finish line, which itself it situated up a small, punchy climb.

 

Riders to watch

With Demi Vollering the declared leader for Team SD Worx ProTime at the Tour de France Femmes this year, world champion Lotte Kopecky will be the headline act for the Dutch team, and there will be much speculation around her ability to compete for the general classification, given a marked improvement in her climbing ability in the past 12 months. Will it be enough of a step up for her to compete with the top climbers at the race?

Lidl-Trek bring a balanced team with riders capable of performing throughout the week, and will likely go into the race as favourites with their trio of home talents. Elisa Balsamo returns to the competition following a period out after a crash, and leadership will come down to Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini, or her young compatriot Gaia Realini, with a strong support crew that includes Lizzie Deignan.

Canyon//SRAM rest Kasia Niewiadoma, trusting in the young Australian Neve Bradbury for leadership, following her first pro win and GC podium finish at the recent Tour de Suisse.

Team dsm-firmenich PostNL will be riding in support of newly crowned French champion Juliette Labous. Josie Nelson is an option for sprint stages, and new German champion Franziska Koch will hope to continue the kind of attacking riding that has seen her animating races throughout the season so far.

Liv-Jayco-AlUla bring veteran Mavi Garcia, a podium finisher in Italy in 2022, and climber Urska Zigart, and Movistar include former German champion Liane Lippert, who is still looking for her race form following a period out with injury, and Mareille Meijering, who has shown herself to be an attacking rider capable of causing an upset on her day in the earlier part of this season.

UAE Team ADQ bring a varied team comprising two-thirds Italians, who will be going all in for any stages which don’t feature too much climbing. Silvia Persico will be able to attack punchy finishes and Chiara Consonni will be present at any bunch finishes. Erica Magnaldi will hope to feature on GC. EF Education-Cannondale include the in-form New Zealander Kim Cadzow, who will hope to make an impression on GC.

 

Riders to watch (GC)

5-stars Longo Borghini

4-stars Realini, Bradbury, Labous

3-stars Kopecky, Garcia

2-stars Lippert, Kadzow

1-star Magnaldi, Niedermayer

 

Summary

When – Sunday 7 – Sunday 14 July

Where – Italy

What – 8-day Grand Tour

TV Coverage: Eurosport, Discovery+

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