By David Hunter
Ready for the first grand tour of the year? The much-anticipated Giro is about to begin, and it even starts in Italy. The organisers have decided to ignore recent trends and have returned to long stages and brutal mountains. We have three ITTs, which will have an impact on the GC, but many demanding days in the mountains. To win the pink jersey, you have to be good on the TT bike, but also quality in the hills. Get ready for the most demanding grand tour in recent history.
In terms of sprinters, there isn’t a huge amount for them to get excited about. In terms of a full bunch sprint, I only see stages 3, 5, 10, 11 and 18 ending this way, but most sprinters won’t be around in the third week. Some of the quick men will hope to feature in stages 2, 4 and 7 but there is no guarantee about this, as they are tough days in the saddle. I would expect most of the quick men to end their Giro campaign after stage 11, very few will hang around in the mountains for one more opportunity on stage 18.
The final stage in the first week is a 34.8km ITT, which features 22km of flat, followed by 12km of climbing. This will see the first big moves on GC and could leave some riders looking to make up considerable time on the others.
The Montoso climb is around 9km at 9.3%, that’s some serious action. Cresting with 32km remaining, we’ll have to see how it’s raced but some climbers will certainly want to attack and try to put others under pressure, especially as it’s the start of five consecutive crazy days.
With over 4700m of climbing, this is a tough old day in the saddle and ends at high altitude. Pian del Lupo is 9.4km at 8.8% and the final 4.6km of the stage is at 9.4%.
Another day full of demanding climbing. Colle San Carlo is around 10km at 10%, that’s eye watering stuff.
The one we’ve all been waiting for, with Passo Gavio and the legendary Passo del Mortirolo. This is sure to be an epic day for TV viewers, not so much for the riders, with over 5500m of climbing.
The final mountain stage contains around 5300m of climbing, that’s just rude! This is a day with little flat and one where we could see long range attacks in the battle for the pink jersey.
Previews can get a little too serious, I’ve decided to change things up a bit. I was lucky enough to get a few riders to join in the fun and tell us their Giro secrets.
Name – Chris Hamilton
Team – Team Sunweb
Nickname – Hamo
Best thing about riding a grand tour? The madness and hype that comes with it. It’s pretty cool, for almost a month your just inside this weird bubble unaware of the outside world, just racing your bike and that’s it. Love it.
Worst thing? Just how bad you can feel on any given day, like if you crash or have some kind of sickness it can set you back massively. But you get very good at suffering I have to say.
Favourite Giro memory, as a rider or fan? For sure the satisfaction of making it to Rome last year with Tom in 2nd. I had my sister and her husband there to see it as well so that just made it even more special. Afterwards we were just sat on the grass next to the bus, eating chips and getting drunk off about 2 beers, haha.
Tell me your 5 must have belongs that you’ll be taking with you – morale chocolate, coffee, kettle, headphones and an ultimately crinkled getup for stage 22.
What music will you be listening to for the next 3 weeks? All kinds, I like to listen to Aus radio stations in the morning, actually, to keep up with the world.
Are you taking any books? The road book has me on the limit already.
What will you do at night? Usually not a great deal, we finish dinner at around 9:30 most nights, sometimes I’ll go for a bit of a stroll then Netflix, or watching car videos on YouTube. Nothing too exciting!
What will be your breakfast each day? On a normal day, 2 egg omelette, toast and whatever spreads I’m feeling. Then some type of oatmeal or if it’s a mountain stage, Honey Pops.
Best thing you can do to be a good roommate? Be tidy and keep the farts under your blanket.
Describe your feelings in 5 words – Oh shit it’s May already!
Name – James Knox
Team – Deceuninck Quick Step
Nickname – Knoxy
Best thing about riding a grand tour? Being a part of something that seemed like a different world growing up watching it on the telly.
Worst thing? Not knowing what to pack for 3 weeks.
Favourite Giro memory, as a rider or fan? There’s some belters… But Nibali with Chaves’ parents after he took the pink Jersey off him on stage 20, that was something special.
Tell me your 5 must have belongs that you’ll be taking with you – toothbrush, speaker, two 4 slot multi usb chargers, ear plugs and of course my phone.
What music will you be listening to for the next 3 weeks? Wide variety here, big believer in that music is about the occasion so I have something for every mood.
Are you taking any books? Still slugging away with 21 problems in the 21st century, at races is the only time I read, but I’m very hit and miss.
What will you do at night? Not an awful lot, Netflix, recall stories of the day and waste way too much time on my phone, if I’m being honest.
What will be your breakfast each day? Nothing specific, eggs, bread, some lion bar cereal goes down well.
Best thing you can do to be a good roommate? Good sense of humour.
Describe your feelings in 5 words – Not good with discussing emotions.
Name – Conor Dunne
Team -Israel Cycling Academy
Nickname – Big Conor / Langer / El Alto
Best thing about riding a grand tour? You don’t have to do the washing up for 3 weeks. Walking up stairs feels like an accomplishment.
Worst thing? Being away from my family and my coffee machine.
Favourite Giro memory, as a rider or fan? Seeing footage of those mad lunatics race up the Dolomites in woollen gloves and shorts during a snowstorm.
Tell me your 5 must have belongs that you’ll be taking with you – aeropress, phone with internet access, flip flops, porridge oats and a toothbrush.
What music will you be listening to for the next 3 weeks? A mixture of heavy metal and relaxed saxophone.
Are you taking any books? Kindle. Currently reading all the freakonomics books. Addicted.
What will you do at night? Talk to my family back home. Meditate. Floss.
What will be your breakfast each day? Porridge. (What else?)
Best thing you can do to be a good roommate? Be considerate and close the toilet door if you’ve left a present.
Describe your feelings in 5 words – Apprehensive. Excited. Scared. Porridge. Tall.
Name – Mikkel Frølich Honoré
Team – Deceuninck Quick Step
Nickname – La Saint-Honoré
Best thing about riding a grand tour? Riding on roads with beautiful scenery from the sea, to the high mountains in the north, in a country famous for it’s art and culture.
Worst thing? That it’s 3 weeks and 50% of all stages are more than 200km!? Hmm also the hard breakaways to pull in, and the changing weather with snow, rain and sun, but that’s why this race is so spectacular…
Favourite Giro memory, as a rider or fan? The stage to Val Martello in 2014 with the peloton passing the snow-covered Gavia and Stelvio, and in 2016 to Risoul where Kruijswijk crashed and lost the Giro after riding fantastic till then.
Tell me your 5 must have belongs that you’ll be taking with you – my Latexco mattress, my books, rain bag, Bang & Olufsen headphones/speaker and my lucky amulet my girlfriend bought me.
What music will you be listening to for the next 3 weeks? Depending on the day, mood, and so many things, but at the moment it’s mostly: Dire Straits, The Beatles, Phil Collins, Avicii and Eminem.
Are you taking any books? For the Giro I might’ve brought too much. At the moment I’m reading ‘La Repubblica’ by Platone, and still have start ‘The Alchemist’ by Paolo Coelho and a biography of Italo Calvino.
What will you do at night? Legs elevated, and listening to jokes and GT advice from Capecchi.
What will be your breakfast each day? Lots of porridge and an omelette with bread, and of course a coffee.
Best thing you can do to be a good roommate? Better ask Eros! I’d say making him a cup of fresh coffee in the morning.
Describe your feelings in 5 words – Just 5 words?? I’m just super excited to finally get first grand tour started.
Name – De Gendt Thomas
Team – Lotto Soudal.
Best thing about riding a grand tour? Being together with the team for 26 days.
Worst thing? Being together with the team for 26days.
Favourite Giro memory, as a rider or fan? My stage win on the Stelvio.
Tell me your 5 must have belongs that you’ll be taking with you – beside the obvious toothbrush. 1. Musicbox 2. Earplugs 3. Own snacks(m&m’s, nuts, candy) 4. Laptop 5. Phone.
What music will you be listening to for the next 3 weeks? Mostly rock music.
Are you taking any books? No books.
What will you do at night? At night I sleep.
What will be your breakfast each day? Eggs, 4 slices of toast, oatmeal/granola, banana, yoghurt and lots of coffee.
Best thing you can do to be a good roommate? Accept the music I am playing, I’m rooming with Tosh so that is not a problem. We have the same taste in music.
Describe your feelings in 5 words – I want to break free.
Primož Roglič – I trust we were all watching Romandie? The Slovenian destroyed the rest of the field, and he wasn’t even going deep. Last year was his first time targeting the GC in a grand tour and he managed to finish 4th in the Tour de France, not bad really! Since joining the team, his performances in grand tours has been outstanding, he’s taken a stage win in all three of his participations, something that most riders cannot match. This season has been faultless, with GC wins in the UAE Tour, Tirreno and Romandie. He starts with his eyes firmly set on the win, especially with the amount of TT kilometres in this edition. His team are strong, but not the strongest. How will they react when others try to put the pressure on?
Tom Dumoulin – won the pink jersey in 2017, before returning and finishing 2nd in 2018, he then also finished 2nd in the Tour de France. The Dutchman is still not considered one of the best climbers, something which is just wrong. He will look at the TTs and see a big opportunity to put time into the mountain goats, and then try to hang on in the mountains. Similar to Roglič, his team looks strong, but not the strongest. He’s also been talking down his own chances, but I think this is just him trying to remove some pressure.
Simon Yates – spectacularly blew in the 2018 Giro, just two stages before winning the pink jersey. The Brit put that disappointment behind him, as he went on to comfortably win the Vuelta, which was a big moment in his career. 2019 has been solely focussed on this race, he’s deliberately not targeted the GC in Andalucía, Paris-Nice and Catalunya. After having no energy left in the closing stages of last year’s race, Yates has been carefully “banking” as many matches as he can, you can be sure he wants to last the pace. He spent a chunk of time working on his TT bike, which resulted in him winning the ITT in Paris-Nice. In order to win the pink jersey, he needs to stay close to Roglič and Dumoulin on stage 9.
Vincenzo Nibali – the most complete GC rider in the modern generation. The shark of Messina can do just about everything, but does he still have what’s required to win a grand tour? Now 34, there are no signs of slowing down, especially as Nibali displayed great form in the Tour of the Alps. The big problem is going to be the ITTs, Nibali will hope that he can limit losses and throw everything he has into the final two weeks. Bahrain arrive with a strong squad to support him, with Pozzovivo and Caruso likely to last deep into the mountain stages. Could this give Nibali an advantage over his rivals?
Miguel Ángel López – 2018 was a great year for the Colombian, he finished 3rd in both the Giro and Vuelta, a big achievement at the age of 24. Astana arrive with the strongest team in the race, just like most races this season. López isn’t the best on his TT bike, if he wants to challenge for the pink jersey, this needs to change. If he loses minutes to his main rivals, it will be very unlikely he ends the race in pink.
The rest of the GC riders: Landa, Majka, Formolo, Jungels and Carapaz are solid options for the top 10, but they won’t be challenging for the win.
After careful preparation since the start of 2019, I think Simon Yates will get the redemption he’s looking for. After improving his TT skills, he should be able to limit his losses and look to punish Roglič and Dumoulin in the mountains. This is a hugely demanding route and the best climber in the race will win the pink jersey.
Remember I’ve now got a podcast too. Go and give it a listen
Follow us on @CiclismoInter
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2019 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved