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Time to clear the calendar, book your TV slots and buy the sofa snacks – the Giro d’Italia is here.
The first Grand Tour of the season is always met with a lot of hype, and for very good reason: it’s the first chance we get to see the real GC contenders go hell for leather in the high mountains.
But which of these high mountain stages are going to be the most pivotal? Who’s going to animate them? And, most importantly, who will be riding what in this great race? Let’s take a look.
The race kicks off with a short individual time trial, the finish of which is placed atop a gruelling little climb. It won’t decide the Giro, nor will it end the hopes of any contenders, but it will sort the GC hierarchy for the first week of racing.
Stage 9 draws a close to the first week with yet another individual time trial. Like the first, this one also ends with a hilltop finish, offering a little bit of hope to the mountain goats of the peloton.
In week two, stages 13 and 14 are going to be two of the most decisive. It’s the first foray into the Alps and should encourage a few of the wily climbers to launch some big attacks. They’ll want to keep something back for week three however, which kicks off with a gruelling day through the ‘real’ Alps on stage 16. With over 5,600m of climbing on this stage, we’re bound to see some GC action, and a fair few riders crawling to the finish as well.
Several unmissable mountain stages then follow, all of which will be crucial for anyone chasing the maglia rosa. The race finishes with yet another individual time trial to wrap up the GC for good – a frantic 17km dash through the streets of Verona.
Ones to watch
As the first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro is always blessed with a field full of talent. This year is no different, with more than a dozen riders lining up who could realistically win the race.
Two of those riders are from the Bora-Hansgrohe team, Rafal Majka and Davide Formolo. Both have experienced a lot of success in this race, taking a stage win and a number of top 10 placings between them.
Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step) is another big contender for the GC, a rider who’s also taken a stage win and twice won the white jersey of best young rider.
These three riders will all be riding the extremely versatile S-Works Tarmac, a bike that can hold its own over the steep mountains passes, as well as on the flats and speedy descents.
Trek’s Emonda and the Giant TCR are similar bikes to the Tarmac and two more that we may just see shooting off in the mountains. The Emonda will be piloted by Bauke Mollema and Guilio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), both of whom will have one eye on the KOM competition and the other on a mountaintop stage win.
The TCR will be under the control of two more talented climbers, Amaro Antunes and Laurens Ten Dam (CCC Team). Like the Trek riders, Antunes and Ten Dam will be doggedly trying to infiltrate the breakaways and score a mountaintop stage victory in this race.
In the sprints, look no further than the Italian national champion, Elia Viviani. He’ll be riding the blisteringly quick S-Works Venge, and with home support behind him, there’s going to be little stopping him from dominating all of the flat stages in this race. Pascal Ackermann is one of his closest competitors and may just push him close with his own S-Works Venge – the battle of the national champions.
Two young Italian sprinters could just cause a surprise. Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) and Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) have the raw natural talent to nip Viviani on the line. They’ll be riding the Trek Madone and Giant Propel respectively, two speed-machines that may well be fast enough to rival the S-Works Venge.
If you’re anything like us, all of this Giro talk will have got you itching to go on a big bike ride of your own. Before you do, why not pop down to our store and have a quick bike service – it’s what the pros do before their big rides.