A year ago this week, the route of the 2020 Giro d’Italia was unveiled in Milan. Twelve months on, that rescheduled race has only just come to an end but thoughts are already turning to the configuration of next year’s edition, scheduled for May 8-30.
The 2020 Giro was initially slated to start in Budapest, but when the race was postponed to October as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Grande Partenza shifted to Sicily, which had been due to host the start in 2021.
Race director Mauro Vegni said that much of the 2021 route has already been planned, but he conceded that the Hungarian start is unlikely to feature next May. No date has yet been set for the presentation of the 2021 Giro d'Italia route.
“I don’t think that the problems linked to COVID-19 will have been overcome for 2021, so for that reason we’re working towards having all 21 stages of the race in Italy,” Vegni told Italian RAI television, a point he revisited to media, including Cyclingnews, the mixed zone in Piazza Duomo after the final stage had concluded.
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“We’re thinking about it and we do have different options for the start, in Italy and abroad. But obviously if we still have an important problem with COVID-19, then a foreign start would be too complicated.”
That point was underlined last week, when the 2020 Giro’s other planned excursion beyond its borders – into France by way of the Colle Agnello on stage 20 – was taken off the route due to tightened coronavirus restrictions. The new measures also saw the Vuelta a España forced to remove Sunday’s planned summit finish on the Col du Tourmalet from its route.
Vegni expressed pride at bringing this year’s Giro to a conclusion in Milan despite the coronavirus pandemic and despite the departure of two teams – Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma – after reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases.
EF Pro Cycling subsequently asked that the Giro come to an end after two weeks, citing concerns about the race’s coronavirus ‘bubble,’ but the request was rebuffed by the UCI.
“There was some worry but the determination to get to Milan was always there. We would have carried on with whoever was willing to follow us,” said Vegni, who repeatedly stated that only the intervention of the Italian government would have brought the race to an early end.
“We would only have stopped if the health authorities had asked us to do it.”
After stage 19 of the Giro was halved in distance following a rider protest, Vegni warned that “someone would pay” for the incident, though on Sunday, he preferred to focus on the fact that the race had succeeded in making it as far as Milan.
“That stage hurt me because this was a special year, a difficult year, and it would have been nice to bring it to a finish without any stain,” Vegni said. “But when I weigh this Giro up, I’m more satisfied than disappointed.
“I’m very happy to be here today in Piazza Duomo, when maybe some people didn’t believe we could make it. We’ve made it and that’s thanks to everybody, riders included.”