Start location: Rome
Finish location: Rome
Start time: 15:25 CEST
Finish time (approx): 18:43 CEST
In the first century BC, Roman poet Tibullus described Rome as The Eternal City, coining a phrase that is still used today to describe the city’s seemingly never-ending persistence. Over 2000 years later, he’s yet to be proven wrong.
The final stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia is an ode to the nation’s capital in much the same way as the the Tour de France celebrates Paris with its finale each year, and the circuit the peloton will ride around takes in many of the sites that reflect the many eras of history that have shaped the city. Upon entering the city centre from the south, they’ll pass the Terme di Caracella, Roman baths where residents would meet to socialise as well as bathe, whose grand architecture was the inspiration for many future buildings from antiquity through to modern America. Around the corner they’ll come across the infamous Colosseum, another host of sporting events, albeit of the bloodier, gladiatorial kind.
The Via dei Fori Imperiali thoroughfare leading to Piazza Venezia moves us forward in time towards later architectural feats, to the nineteenth century, gleaming white neoclassical monument Altare della Patria, to Castel Sant’Angelo, the cylindrical, mediaeval papal fortress that was built on the mausoleum of Roman emperor Hadrian. Via the Lungotevere dei Tebaldi boulevard that runs alongside the river Tiber the route heads back south, towards the ruins of Circus Maximus, the arena that hosted chariot racing during Roman times.
Stage 21 profile sourced on the Giro d'Italia website
Rome might be known as the City of Seven Hills, but each of them are carefully avoided in a stage that’s designed for the sprinters. Not only is the 13.6km circuit around Rome flat, so too is the 16km out and back road they take at the start of the stage from Rome, along the Via Cristoforo Colombo road to Lido di Castel Fusano in Ostia on the Tyrrhenian coast. The circuit (which will be tackled six times) is a little undulating and there are some tricky urban roads to negotiate with tight bends and some cobbled sections, but none of this should cause the riders too many problems.
This will be only the fifth time in history that Rome hosts the final stage of the Giro. There were complaints about the safety of some of the roads the last time in 2018, forcing the organisers to revise some of the course and scrap time bonuses. Thankfully there were no major incidents, and the stage culminated in a bunch sprint, with Sam Bennett claiming the third stage win of what was his breakthrough Grand Tour ahead of Elia Viviani and Jempy Drucker.
There is very little that could prevent stage 21 from being an opportunity for the sprinters to duke it out for victory. The fast men have not hauled themselves over the Dolomites for nothing: this is their chance to get a stage win. No sprinter in this race has won two stages so far so we can expect the finish to be tightly fought with everyone closely matched. However, the abandonment of the likes of Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) has slightly weakened the sprinting field.
Of those who remain in the race, maglia ciclamino (points jersey) wearer, Jonathan Milan is one of the key favourites to take victory in stage 21. The Bahrain-Victorious rider won way back on stage two of the Giro and has finished second on four occasions since then. Milan has struggled with positioning in the approach to the line in previous stages, so it will be important for his teammates to support him here.
One of Milan’s biggest challengers will be fellow Italian Alberto Dainese of Team DSM. After admitting he massively struggled to get through the mountain stages, Dianese’s hard work paid off on stage 17 when he delighted a home crowd with a win in Caorle. He will be looking to add to his win tally in Rome and arguably has the most pure speed of all the sprinters left in the race. Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan Team) is one of the few pure sprinters left in this race without a stage win and he will be hoping to change that on the streets of Rome. Riding his final Giro d’Italia after announcing his retirement on the race’s rest day, a stage win would be the fairytale ending for Cav.
Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) is another rider without a stage win so far. The Colombian has been close on a couple of occasions and will dream of victory today – if he can pull it off, it will be the sixth Giro stage win of his career. Pascal Ackermann of UAE Team Emirates proved he is only getting faster as his career progresses in stage 11 of this race when he came out on top in the bunch kick; he will be hoping for a repeat performance ten stages later.
Michael Matthews (Jayco-Alula) was also up there during the sprint in stage 17 and could be in the fight for victory today. The duo of Niccolò Bonifazio and Arne Marit of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty are also riders who will want to make an impact today after bad luck and a mechanical stopped Marit from being able to sprint during stage 17. Simone Consonni of Cofidis is another rider who could be in the mix, as is Alex Kirsch of Trek-Segafredo.
We think that Jonathan Milan will take a second stage win today, resplendent in the maglia ciclamino. The Italian has the finishing speed to outsprint the rest and will have learnt from his mistakes in the previous stages.