In just over a couple of weeks’ time, we’ll see the start of the 98th Giro d’Italia, the first of the three Grand Tours this year, and a landmark signifier of the start of the cycling spring/summer. Famed for it’s mountainous courses and unpredictable weather, the springtime tour is often an event that tests riders to their absolute limits, so much so that those who partake do not usually go on to compete in the Tour de France due to it’s close proximity.
The Giro is something of the TDF’s more mature, sophisticated brother – even though it is slightly younger – it doesn’t need to be out in the middle of summer, or claim to be the most important bike race around, it doesn’t even have to attract the big sprint-finishers; yet it stills retains it’s reputation as a cool, suave and tough rider’s race. Unsung heroes, mountain-sloggers and the best domestiques gather every year to put in the miles, effort and sweat to bring their team and riders victory.
The Giro is a great opportunity to look at some stunning scenery, from the alpine north to the Mediterranean south, the Giro has it all, so what can we look forward to especially this year?
Riders to watch this year
Simon Gerrans, the Aussie with a Tour Down Under win under his belt and a handful of TDF stage wins, will be taking to the Italian stage this year for an attempt to wind the Maglia Rosa. The 34 year old is coming back from recent injuries to test himself against the mountains on what will be his second Giro start:
“My only previous start in the Giro was in 2009 with the Cervelo Test Team,” … “I have great memories from this race, I was fortunate enough to win stage 14 from Campi Bisenzio to San Luca in a breakaway.”
The rest of the Orica-GreenEDGE team remains unannounced.
Rigoberto Uran of Etixx-Quick Step got a head start by previewing a time trial stage earlier this year, and is feeling confident and comfortable ahead of the race:
“I am confident,” said Uran. “I like the parcours a lot. It suits me perfectly, and I worked hard”
Tom Boonen, a team mate of Uran’s, will also be a rider to keen your eyes on this year as he steps out onto his debut Giro to assist Rigo. Recovering from a fractured elbow and shoulder injury from Paris-nice, he doesn’t seem deterred or worried by the incident:
“I’m very excited to start the next part of the season,” Saind Boonen “It will be nice to go to the Tour of Turkey, a race I’ve never done before and see what happens. For sure I will be suffering a little bit, but it will be useful for the Giro. […] I’m happy to be at the start for the first time in my career to support the team strategy in function of Rigo”
Riders taking a back seat this year
Astana team director Giuseppe Martinelli has confirmed that Vincenzo Nibali won’t be there as he told the press:
“yes, yes, it’s definitive.”
The Italian joins a slew of other riders that will be focussing instead on the Tour de France, one such rider is Mark Cavendish.
Cavendish rides the Tour of California instead of the Giro, and prepares for the TDF, a tactic he used last year but had to pull out due to his infamous stage 1 crash:
“…I also went into Le Tour with a really good feeling. But unfortunately I crashed in the first stage, so everything was over in a second. Of course it’s a pity.” Said the British sprinter.
“I don’t like to miss the Giro, which is a key race that helped me build up my career. I have great memories of that race and I hope to come back to the Giro in the future and do well again. But as of this year I want to focus on the optimal preparation for the Tour de France, and going into the races to return to the high level of performance I had at the beginning of the year.”
What happened at the TDF last year was a freak accident, a simple mistake and yet it is so easy to experience levels of low confidence after it, hopefully California is just what Cavendish needs and will help him perform in France later in the Summer.
The terrain is just as varied as last year, providing a varied and tough canvas across the Italian landscape, the only thing that will play in heavier rider’s favours is that there are less mountain finishes (6 vs 7 last year). An 11 mile team time trial in Sanremo will open the race, and so contrasting with last year’s Irish start, it will be an all-Italian tour. The grand finish will be in Milan and as ever, it promises to be a glamorous ending to what is set to be a fantastic tour.
Keep checking back during the Giro as we provide various coverage of the tour throughout.
Also, don’t forget to check out our Giro d’Italia Shop, where we have team kits, clothing and accessories available!