Milan - Giro d'Italia organisers unveiled an epic route on Tuesday for next year's centenary edition that could entice the country's top two riders into a thrilling duel.
The May 5-28 Grand Tour starts with three stages in Sardinia, home of 2015 runner-up Fabio Aru, before hopping across the Mediterranean for two stages in Sicily, where reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali was born.
The 100th edition, which will pay homage to Italy's greatest cyclists, will then snake its way up the boot of Italy before cutting inland to begin a series of spectacular and gruelling mountain stages.
While Italian legends like Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Felice Gimondi and Marco Pantani will be honoured by stages starting or finishing in their home towns, the underlying wish of organisers is to see two-time champion Nibali battle it out with former Astana teammate Aru for the pink jersey on the draining climbs and hairy downhill finishes.
The route features four mountain-top finishes, six stages for the sprint specialists and two time trials.
Nibali, who will race for Bahrain-Merida next year, said he was excited by the prospect of going at it in Sicily.
"It would be great to wear the pink jersey there, but let's see what happens," he said at the official race presentation in Milan.
When the route was leaked two days ago it also grabbed the attention of three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
Although the Briton has previously said he will not ride the Giro because it would affect his Tour preparations, he posted a picture on Twitter of a cartoon character, surrounded by love hearts, with the message: "Looking at the leaked 2017 @Giroditalia route like."
The first week climaxes with a 14km climb to Blockhaus, at 1 674m, on stage nine.
The first time trial comes after the second rest day and will be held over 39.2km in the Sagrantino wine-growing region.
Stage 11's ride from Florence to Bagno di Romagna will pass through the birthplace of three-time champion Bartali.
Two days later, five-time winner Coppi will be recognised when stage 13 ends in Tortona, where he died in 1960.
After a rest day in Bergamo, the birth place of three-time race winner Gimondi, the peloton will look ahead to the decisive final week with trepidation.
Despite only two summit finishes in five days of climbing the pink jersey contenders are in for a punishing final week.
On stage 16 they will tackle the Mortirolo, then the Stelvio - from the more difficult Italian side - before turning back and riding back up the Stelvio via the Umbrail Pass on the Swiss side of the border.
Contenders face a potentially decisive stage 18 in the Dolomites, with four mountain passes.
Stages for the 100th edition of the 2017 Giro d'Italia, to be held over a 3572.2 kilometres route on May 5-28:
May 5 - Stage 1: Alghero to Olbia (203 km)
May 6 - Stage 2: Olbia to Tortoli (208 km)
May 7 - Stage 3: Tortoli to Cagliari (148 km)
May 8 - rest day
May 9 - Stage 4: Cefalu to Etna (180 km)
May 10 - Stage 5: Pedara to Messina (157 km)
May 11 - Reggio Calabria to Luigiane Spa (207 km)
May 12 - Stage 7: Castrovillari to Alberobello (220 km)
May 13 - Stage 8: Molfetta to Peschici (189 km)
May 14 - Stage 9: Montenero di Bisaccia to Blockhaus (139 km)
May 15 - rest day
May 16 - Stage 10: Foligno to Montefaclo (39.2 km individual time trial)
May 17 - Stage 11: Florence to Bagno di Romana (161 km)
May 18 - Stage 12: Forli to Reggio Emilia (237 km)
May 19 - Stage 13: Reggio Emilia to Tortona (162 km)
May 20 - Stage 14: Castellania to Oropa (131 km)
May 21 - Stage 15: Valdengo to Bergamo (199 km)
May 22 - rest day
May 23 - Stage 16: Rovetta to Bormio (227 km)
May 24 - Stage 17: Tirano to Canazei (219 km)
May 25 - Stage 18: Moena to Ortisei/St. Ulrich (137 km)
May 26 - Stage 19: San Candido/Innichen - Piancavalo (191 km)
May 27 - Stage 20: Pordenone to Asiago (190 km)
May 28 - Stage 21: Monza race track to Milan (28 km individual time trial)