Giro d'Italia 2024 stage 21 preview - the grand finale in Rome

A circuit finish around Rome will close this year's Giro d'Italia

Date: Sunday May 26, 2024
Distance: 125km
Start location: Rome
Finish location: Rome
Start time: 15:30 CET
Finish time (approx): 18:43 CET

As the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome. From the Appian Way built by censor Appius Claudius Caecus in the fourth century BC to connect it to the coastal town of Brindisi in the south west, to the vast network constructed spanning from England to Syria during the following centuries, Rome would have felt like the very centre of the universe during the height of the Empire. Even now, with its position approximately halfway down the Italian peninsula, it feels like the centre of the nation, a capital city that is geographical as well as governmental. 

It’s somewhat ironic, then, that today’s stage in Rome will be the only one of this whole Giro d’Italia that the riders will arrive via aerospace rather than the road. With environmental reasons in mind, the organisers have made a conscious effort this year to minimise the race’s carbon footprint travelling around the nation in between stages, and so long transfers have been avoided — until now, with a long flight from Veneto in the north-east to Rome that caused some controversy when announced for its excessive length. The intent is to get the riders to the capital for the climatic party to see out the Grand Tour, but this isn’t a finale that is firmly built into the Giro as a tradition the same way that Paris is at the Tour de France; in fact, last year’s finish here was the first time a Giro finished in Rome since the 2018 edition, when Sam Bennett got the better of Elia Viviani in a bunch sprint.

Last year’s stage was also a bunch sprint, a victory in the Eternal City by the Eternal Sprinter, Mark Cavendish. This was when we thought the Manxman was at long last retiring from the sport, before his devastating crash at the Tour de France prompted him to change his mind and carry on for another year, though his non-showing this year means that was his final ever Giro stage — and a typically romantic way for him to bid farewell to the race, with a seventeenth and last win in what was his seventh appearance. He used all the sprinting nous he has developed over his many years in the sport to win that day, recognising that he could afford to go early in response to Fernando Gaviria beginning his sprint, sheltering in his slipstream for just enough time before bursting out of it and storming past his for a comfortable victory. 

That finish won’t serve exactly as a template for today’s stage, as the finish line is around the corner on the other side of the Colosseum to where it was then, this time on the Via San Gregorio rather than Fori Imperiali. But the fundamentals will be the same: the stage is just as guaranteed to come to a sprint, the riders will get to familiarise themselves with the course over a series of multiple laps, and positioning and concentration will be crucial on twisty, technical roads. Altimetria/Profile Stage 21 Giro d'Italia 20241_roma_alt Stage profile sourced via the Giro d'Italia website


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 gruelling mountains for nothing: this is their chance to get a stage win.  

Maglia ciclamino wearer Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) is one of the big favourites to take victory in stage 21. He's won three stages so far and was close to a fourth on stage 18, but poor positioning in the last hundred metres meant that his rival Tim Merlier (Soudal–Quick-Step) just pipped him to the line to win his second stage. It is without doubt that both of these two riders will want to round off their Giro with a stage win in Rome, and it'll be another nail-biting sprint finish. 

However, one rider who is yet to win a stage and will be vying for the opportunity will be Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck). He has finished second twice now and third once but will wish to secure that much sought-after stage win before the race finishes. Caleb Ewan (Jayco-Alula) is another of the big sprinters who remains in this race but has yet to secure a stage win. His best result so far has been sixth in the opening week, but he did place eighth on stage 18, a promising sign for a better outcome in Rome. 

Alberto Dainese (Tudor Pro Cycling) is one to watch for this stage. He has had strong results in the sprints throughout this race but is yet to secure higher than fourth place. He'll be hoping to at least get on the podium or even better, take the stage win. UAE Team Emirates rider Juan Sebastián Molano may go for the stage win now the GC has been wrapped up. He came third in the sprint in Naples and will be a real contender for the stage win – we might even see a lead-out from his teammate and maglia rosa Tadej Pogačar. Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) and Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) could also be riders in the mix for the stage win. 


We think Jonathan Milan will take the final stage win in Rome. 

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