The 98th edition of the Giro d’Italia will begin in San Lorenzo al Mare on the 9th May with a team time trial – the same starting format the race took in 2014.

The mass of Scott, Pinarello and Cannondale road bikes that feature so heavily in these races will wind its way down to the Giro’s most Southerly stage -  Stage 9 from Benevento to San Giorgio del Sannio – before it climbs back up the East coast of Italy before crossing the Italian Alps and Dolomites then finishing in Milan on 31st May.

The race includes two time trials, one team time trial on Stage 1 that is 17.6km on flat terrain and one individual time trial on Stage 14. The ITT is key because it is 59.2km long over undulating terrain: as it is also in the final week it is likely to shake up the General Classification for extra excitement. With all the latest road bike technology such as carbon and weight-saving measures, a light carbon bike frame and road cycling gear can make any rider competitive in these long time trials.

As well as the time trial stages there are seven flat stages with only two in the final week. Flat stages can be undulating and aren’t always pan flat, especially in terrain like the Alps. These stages tend to be viewed as transition stages or even recovery stages by the GC riders as they try and keep as much energy as possible for the mountain stages where the race will be won. The flat stages are hotly contested by sprinters such as Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel, if they are taking part, to try and win the red points jersey.

Of the 21 stages at the Giro, 12 are classed as mountain stages with seven of those classed as ‘medium mountains’, meaning they don’t feature category 1 or HC climbs, but often feature several smaller climbs which can make them just as difficult. The race features five summit finishes that are always the cause of fireworks in the General Classification and will be where many of the pivotal battles take place.

The summit finishes include iconic Giro climbs such as the Sestriere and the Madonna Di Campiglio, with the Cima Coppi award for the highest point in the race being placed atop the 18.4km climb of the Colle Delle Finestre which rises 2178m above sea level and sits near the French border.

The main General Classification riders to look out for are Alberto Contador, who is aiming to win a Giro/Tour de France double in 2015 after winning the Vuelta a Espana in 2014. Contador won the Giro d’Italia in 2008, his only Giro win after his win in 2011 was struck off after he was found to have doped.

Defending Giro champion Nairo Quintana and Movistar team mate Alejandro Valverde have yet to announce whether they are riding the Giro, although both have confirmed they will be riding the Tour de France.

Giro d’Italia 2015 Route

Sat 9/5 Stage 1 - San Lorenzo Al Mare > San Remo (Team Time Trial) 17.6km
Sun 10/5 Stage 2 - Albenga > Genoa 173km
Mon 11/5 Stage 3 - Rapallo >Sestri Levante 136km
Tue 12/5 Stage 4 - Chivari > La Spezia 150km
Wed 13/5 Stage 5 - La Spezia > Abetone Summit Finish152km
Thur 14/5 Stage 6 - Montecatini Terme > Castiglione Della Pescaia 181km
Fri 15/5 Stage 7 - Grosetto > Fiuggi 263km
Sat 16/5 Stage 8 - Fiuggi > Campitello Matese Mountain Finish188km
Sun 17/5 Stage 9 - Benevento > San Giorgio Del Sannio 212km
Mon 18/5 Rest Day
Tue 19/5 Stage 10 - Civitanova Marche > Forli 195km
Wed 20/5 Stage 11 - Forli ->Imola (Ferrari race track) 147km
Thur 21/5 Stage 12 - Imola > Vicenza (Monte Berico) Summit Finish 190km
Fri 22/5 Stage 13 - Montecchio Maggiore > Jesolo 153km
Sat 23/5 Stage 14 - Treviso > Valdobbiadene (Individual Time Trial) 59.2km
Sun 24/5 Stage 15 - Marostica > Madonna Di Campiglio Mountain Summit Finish165km
Mon 25/5 Rest Day
Tue 26/5 Stage 16 - Pinzolo > Aprica Mountain Summit Finish 175km
Wed 27/5 Stage 17 - Tirano > Lugano 136km
Thur 28/5 Stage 18 - Melide > Verbania 172km
Fri 29/5 Stage 19 - Gravellona Toce > Cervinia Mountain Summit Finish 236km
Sat 30/5 Stage 20 - Saint-Vincent > Sestriere Mountain Summit Finish 196km
Sun 31/5 Stage 21 - Turin > Milan 185km