This Saturday the 95th edition of the Giro d’Italia will roll out of the Danish city of Herning, signalling the start of twenty-one days of top-notch racing. This year the Italian Grand Tour will not only take us on a journey through Italy’s beautiful towns and countryside, but also give us a taste of Scandinavia with the first three stages being hosted by the Kingdom of Denmark. If that was a bit of a shock to the system then brace yourself… there’s also no climbing time trial included in the 2012 route AND the colour of the jersey for the mountain classification has changed from green to blue due to sponsorship by Banca Mediolanum. OK, now we’ve dealt with that side of things let’s have a look at the route.
In the past the Giro has been said by some, to be too hard for those wanting to ride both the Giro and the Tour, and this certainly seemed to be the case for Contador last year who showed signs of fatigue at the 2011 Tour after riding the Giro.
But it seems the Giro is embarking on a new era after race director Angelo Zomegnan stepped aside to be replaced by Michele Acquarone who has taken a different approach to the Italian Grand Tour this year. Michele has looked to make the race more attractive for riders who want to win the TdF and strived to make the race generally more fan and spectator friendly while also trying to attract an international audience. Acquarone has gone on record and said that the 2011 edition of the Giro was overly taxing for riders and has actively looked to reduce the km of climbing this year.
Another emphasis at this year’s tour will also be safety. After the unfortunate circumstances involving Leopard Trek rider Wouter Weylandt, rider safety will be of up most importance. As a mark of respect the race number 108 (Wouter’s race number at last year’s Giro) has been retired.
The town of Herning in Denmark features heavily in the opening stages of this year’s Giro. This is the home town of the man behind Saxo Bank, Bjarne Riis, whose nickname is ‘The Eagle from Herning’. Riis will be hoping his Saxo Bank team can get off to a soaring start in his wind battered home town, although any time gained in these early stages is unlikely to have much of an impact on the overall results.
After the opening stages in Denmark, the Giro kicks off in Italy with a team time trial in Verona. No mountains will be scaled until the 6th stage with the toughest climbs being left until the final eight stages. The penultimate climb will potentially be the deciding race with the famous Mortirolo climb and ascent of the Stelvio pass.
The 2012 Maglia Rosa has been given a little bit of a makeover for this year with Tweets and Facebook messages from fans of the Giro being printed on the collar, sleeve and waist hem. The jersey also features Tweets from those riders who have worn the leaders jersey in the past. This adoption of social media backs up Acquarone attempts to bring the great Italian race into the 21st century.
Giro d’Italia 2012 Promo
Lampre’s Scarponi won’t be content winning the Maglia Rosa by default after Contador’s disqualification from the 2011 race. The Italian will be joined by Damiano Cunego who has been given a pass by his team and will be looking for individual stage wins. The men in pink will be without Alessandro Petacchi as the sprinter prepares for the Tour de France.
Ivan Basso is fighting for pink after taking top honours at the Italian race back in 2010. The Liquigas-Cannondale rider failed to defend this title in 2011 after concentrating all his efforts on the Tour, but was only managed to come in 8th. This year Basso has confirmed that he will be riding both the Giro and the Tour while his team mate Vincenzo Nibali turns his attention solely to TdF glory.
The main man for RadioShack-Nissan (Trek) will come in the form of Frank Schleck. Originally the Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang was awarded the captaincy, however a knee problem suffered earlier in the season has ruled him out of the Giro. Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati has voiced interest in the sprint and time trial stages although is not considered a favourite after suffering from blood poisoning after cobbled classics.
Sky’s team seems to be mainly centred round Mark Cavendish’s debut at a Grand Tour for the British team. Cavendish will be looking to add to his 7 stage wins at the Giro although how long he will last until the climbs start getting the better of him is still unsure. Colombians Rigoberto Urán and Sergio Henao are the main contenders for GC Sky glory.
Spanish rider Joaquim Rodriguez is the main hope for GC contention in Katusha’s lineup. Another favourite is Astana’s Czech rider Roman Kreuziger who is foregoing the TdF to concentrate on this year’s Giro.
All in all it is looking like a pretty close race, if previous Grand Tours have taught us anything, it must be that anything can happen over three weeks of racing.
Who would you put your money on? Anyone out there who you think could cause an upset? What do you think of the 2012 Giro route?
As usual ProbikeKit will be following the action closely via our social media channels. We will be Tweeting live alternative commentary (#OMGiro) during the stages as well as posting results and revelations on Facebook. For the latest news check out our OMGiro daily blog series which will keep you up to date with the latest Giro news.