It’s Giro d’Italia time again! Some of the world’s best riders will fight it out over the next three weeks to see who will win overall and who will become a hero for a day. The Giro has a long history and expect to become acquainted with the smaller Italian teams like Bardiani and Androni over its course.
A mixed first week followed by an easier second week leads into a third week showdown between the key contenders and we will see who wins the pink jersey.
Giro d’Italia Stages
Stage 1 – San Lorenzo › Mare Sanremo (17.6k)
Stage 2 – Albenga › Genova (177k)
Stage 3 – Rapallo › Sestri Levante (136k)
Stage 4 – Chiavari › La Spezia (150k)
Stage 5 – La Spezia › Abetone (152k)
Stage 6 – Montecatini Terme › Castiglione della Pescaia (183k)
Stage 7 – Grosseto › Fiuggi (264k)
Stage 8 – Fiuggi › Campitello Matese (186k)
Stage 9 – Benevento › San Giorgio del Sannio (215k)
Stage 10 – Civitanova Marche › Forlì (200k)
Stage 11 – Forlì › Imola (153k)
Stage 12 – Imola › Vicenza (Monte Berico) (190k)
Stage 13 – Montecchio Maggiore › Lido di Jesolo (147k)
Stage 14 – Treviso › Valdobbiadene (59.4k) Time Trial
Stage 15 – Marostica › Madonna di Campiglio (165k)
Stage 16 – Pinzolo › Aprica (177k)
Stage 17 – Tirano › Lugano (134k)
Stage 18 – Melide › Verbania (170k)
Stage 19 – Gravellona Toce › Cervinia (236k)
Stage 20 – Sint Vincent › Sestriere (196k)
Stage 21 – Torino › Milano (185k)
Giro d’Italia Contenders
Lets be honest, there’s only three genuine GC contenders from the off. Previous winner Alberto Contador is looking to do a Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double this year and has a strong team to back him up here with Basso, Kreuziger and Rogers to look after him.
Team Sky have decided to back Australian Richie Porte and again it is a strong lineup. Konig and Nieve are the mountain stage lieutenants with Kiryienka and Eisel the powerful flat stage guardians. The issue is whether or not he can limit losses on the one bad day he seems to have in a grand tour.
Rigoberto Uran is the other option, in good form during the Tour de Romandie he can climb well and time trial well. The team behind him isn’t as strong with less big hitters to look after him and it’s this that may make him lose time at the worst moments.
Honourable mentions go to Domenico Pozzovivo, Fabio Aru, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Ryder Hesjedal and Benat Intxausti. I would expect these riders to make up the rest of the top ten (barring injury/crashes) but there should be some daylight between them and the top 3.
There is an interesting mix of sprinters at this year’s Giro d’Italia, with many being powerful hill stage sprinters capable of winning Stages 3 and 7 in particular.
Michael Matthews has previous at the Giro with his breakout performance and spell in the pink jersey last year. I’d expect at least one stage win and potentially a repeat with Orica-Greenedge looking well set up for the team time trial.
Andre Greipel is always in the mix with the flatter sprints but is capable of getting over some of the hills – He’s not been at the Giro d’Italia since 2010 but does have two stage wins.
Sky’s Elia Viviani won’t have much of a sprint train around him but will be relishing the chance to go for stage wins. His track pedigree means he generates a lot of power and will be in contention.
The combination of Gianni Meersman and Tom Boonen will be looking for stage wins for Etixx-Quickstep. I’d expect Meersman to focus on the hillier stages such as possibly stages 4 and 9 with Boonen maybe going on his own on the pure sprint stages. With Boonen coming back from injury a lot is in the air.
Giacomo Nizzolo‘s first Giro d’Italia will hopefully act as a breakthrough. He has a few good results this season from Paris – Nice but has a habit of going missing in big sprints.
Riders such as Sonny Colbrelli, Roberto Ferrari, Heinrich Haussler, Alessandro Petacchi, Moreno Hofland, and Juan Jose Lobato will also be fighting it out in the sprints. I don’t expect all of them to be up there each day but any of them stand a chance of a stage win if they get everything right on the day.
Giro d’Italia Outsiders
FDJ’s Jussi Veikkanen is potentially a highlight of an otherwise weak team. I’m expecting a breakaway attempt or a decent TT result, a definite wildcard on a stage during the three weeks.
Bardiani normally light up the race and I expect 2013 Giro d’Italia KoM winner Stefano Pirazzi to go on the attack on a few stages and if the leaders let him go, could get a stage win.
On the same theme, Enrico Battaglin will attack on the smaller hill finishes.
Cannondale’s David Formolo is a decent shout for the Youth Jersey with good performances over the season so far. He’s definitely capable of a top 25 overall.
Giro d’Italia Prediction
1 – Contador
2 – Uran
3 – Porte
4 – Aru
5 – Pozzovivo
6 – Hesjedal
7 – Van den Broeck
8 – Intxausti
9 – Pellizotti
KoM – Franco Pellizotti
Sprint – Michael Matthews