Giro d’Italia 2019 – Stage 1 Preview

By David Hunter

Bologna – San Luca 8km ITT

An ITT with a twist.

5.9k of fast roads, followed by one of the most beautiful climbs in cycling.

2.1km at 9.7%, the perfect way to end a time trial. Fans of Giro dell’Emilia will know this one well, it really is a leg breaker. Will this swing the day in favour of the climbers?

I do love this climb. You can see that it goes up in sections, just you wait and see the fans lining the streets shouting on their heroes.

Weather

Nobody really knows! Some are saying that the late starters will get some rain, that’s why all the GC riders are going out early, apart from Simon Yates. As we know, predicting the weather is a fine art, almost as hard as predicting who wins cycling races. The wind should increase throughout the day, which is more headwind for the guys out late. Will it rain? We’ll have to see.

Roglič v Dumoulin

The two TT giants of the field, but how do they compare? Interestingly, they rarely get the opportunity to challenge each other in this discipline. This season Dumoulin got the better of Roglič in Tirreno, but neither of them were that good.

Back in 2018, they matched up at the end of a very demanding Tour de France, again, Dumoulin beat Roglič and he also took the stage win.

In 2017, Roglič got the better of Dumoulin in Tirreno, but the Dutchman got revenge in the World Championships, taking home the gold medal. That means Roglič has only beaten Dumoulin once in the last four attempts, but that’s just what the statistics say.

Contenders

Primož Roglič – destroyed everyone in Romandie, they weren’t even close to him. The Slovenian is one of the best TT riders in the world and will see this as an enormous chance to take the pink jersey, something he missed out on in 2016 when Dumoulin beat him by under a second. Given his form this season, he starts the stage as the overwhelming favourite, despite the statistics between him and Dumoulin.

Tom Dumoulin – the only man who can beat Roglič. The Dutch star loves a TT in a grand tour; he won in the 2018 Tour de France and the opening TT in the 2018 Giro. In fact, you’ve got to go all the way back to 2014 to find a year when he didn’t win a battle against the clock in a GT, that’s one hell of a record. Dumoulin is a different beast in these races, he always seems to step up a number of levels compared to ordinary stage races, but can he continue his impressive run against Roglič?

Simon Yates – can he really compete with the big two? A lot will depend on how much time he losses in the opening 5.9km. It’s been well documented that the Brit spent a lot of time trying to improve his TT ability over the winter, this was mainly due to the Giro containing 3 ITTs. A win in Paris-Nice was a massive boost for him, but winning this stage is still going to be incredibly difficult. We’ll also have to see if his gamble of starting late will pay off.

Victor Campenaerts – the climb is probably just too hard for him and he’ll drop some crucial seconds. He should still be good enough to challenge for the top 5, but winning the stage will be very difficult.

Bob Jungels – after a hugely successful spring campaign, the QuickStep rider is now in grand tour mode. All this focus on developing into an all-round rider has been at the expense of his TT power, but this is a route that suits his characteristics. A strong start will help his confidence as we head into the next three weeks.

Ion Izagirre – loves a tough TT. The Basque rider has been in impressive form this season, and he’ll sense an opportunity to upset the big favourites. Astana have possibly been the team of the season; can the Basque rider net another huge win?

Prediction Time

After his Romandie performance, I have to go with Primož Roglič, his form is just too good.

*Overall preview

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David Hunter

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