By David Hunter
It’s always nice when it’s time for the Giro. This year we start in Holland, before heading over to Italy. It promises to be another brilliant edition of the race, it has something for everyone.
Yes, the first crucial stage is not until stage 9. A long ITT through the vines of Chianti. We will see some big gaps on this day, as the route is very challenging.
Stage 9 and 10 are separated by the rest day, making this stage hard for riders to judge. The final climb is easy but the cat 1 before it will split the field. The GC will certainly begin to take shape.
The Giro continues it’s love affair with the mountain time trial. This is another beauty; one for the fans!
The penultimate climb is only cat 2 but it features some steep slopes. Some legs will still be sore from the mountain TT the day before.
An important day for the Italians, with the Cima Coppi, plus a finish in France. The climb to Risoul is well known to the riders and fans.
The final GC day is a cracker, with plenty of climbing. The race heads back into Italy for the last 10km.
The first two weeks are very friendly for the quick men, with stages 2, 3, 5, 7 and 12 looking like sprint days. As a reward to those who stay the distance, we have two more sprints in the final week. This is where we should see the Italian sprinters go head to head, as Kittel and Greipel will be away home. Stages 17 and 21 should be Italian days!
This year, the Giro offers plenty of opportunities for those that like to gamble. Stages 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 14 and 18 all look for those that like to attack. That will be great news to riders like Adam Hansen, or the many Italians who would love to win a stage in their home race.
The Best Stage
Stage 8 to Arezzo sees the peloton visit the white roads. Alpe di Poti is very steep and the white roads will be a huge challenge to most riders. Pray for rain!
Vincenzo Nibali – he arrives with his trusted team, full of brilliant riders. He won the Giro in 2013, before focusing on the Tour. This is contract year for Nibali, another Giro win could well add a little to his new deal. Despite his Trentino form, he is the man to beat. He’s been there, done it and bought the t-shirt. 2016 has been good, with a win in Oman and a solid performance in Tirreno. The TT kilometres will be great news to him, as will the big stages in the final week. He knows how to manage his body and form.
Mikel Landa – the TTs are not great for him. He won’t lose anywhere near as much in the mountain TT but 40km in Chianti could well give him a sore head. He was great in Trentino, which will make him confident of improving on his 3rd place from last year. Saying that, Team Sky, look a little on the weak side. Quite a surprise for them.
Alejandro Valverde – Mr Consistent! The Spaniard should be right up there for most of the race. The long TT isn’t great for him, but I don’t see him dropping away until we get into the proper mountains, in the last couple of days. His team are strong, I especially like Andrey Amador. Expect some stage wins for Valverde and possible podium spot.
Ilnur Zakarin – the elephant in the room. Climbing extremely well, the only one able to follow Quintana in Romandie. He is capable of a huge TT result and I can’t wait to see what he can do as he targets the GC in a grand tour for the first time. His team don’t look the best for the mountains, so he will rely heavily on Rein Taaramae.
Rigoberto Uran – after looking such a good TT rider, I now have some concerns. He loves the Giro, finishing 2nd here in 2013 and 2014. The Colombian is a strong rider and looked good in Romandie. Hopefully he doesn’t blow in the long TT.
Sergey Firsanov – Gazprom-RusVelo are making their grand tour debut, that is a huge deal for them. Firsanov has been in incredible form, winning Coppi Bartali, Giro dell’Appennino and finishing 4th in Trentino. He has the capability of doing something special in the Giro.
Tanel Kangert – about time the Estonian returned to form. Was 26th in the 2012 Giro, 13th in 2013 and 11th in the 2013 Vuelta. He was then 20th in the 2014 Tour, but failed to finish the Vuelta. Last year, he was 13th in the Giro and 22nd in the Tour. I had high hopes for Kangert, but he just hasn’t quite risen to the next level. Two stage wins in Trentino certainly confirm his current form, and he finished with the front group in LBL. Every chance of helping Nibali and still finishing in the top 10.
The first two weeks should all be about Marcel Kittel. He arrives with the train that has worked well for him this year. In Jungels, Wisniowski, Trentin and Sabatini he has the best train in the race. Everything looks good for the German to dominate the early stages. When the stage is too hard for him, Etixx, will look to Trentin. A rider that has won a bunch sprint in the Tour.
Andre Greipel arrives with a reduced sprint train. With Lotto looking to help Tim Wellens, as he looks to target the GC, Greipel will count upon the help of Bak, Hansen and Roelandts. This is nowhere near as strong as usual. Greipel is still coming to terms with his injuries and looks to be a little behind Kittel. The Gorilla will be looking to find some much needed form before the Tour.
As usual, the Giro attracts the Italian sprinters. We have Viviani, Nizzolo, Modolo and Pelucchi. The evidence suggests that Viviani is the fastest, but has no support. Nizzolo struggles to win stages, but his confidence will be up after beating Cavendish in Croatia. Modolo only has Ferrari, fine in Turkey, much harder in the Giro. Pelucchi has been terrible this season.
Andrey Zeits – The Killer of Kazakhstan. I have so much admiration for this rider, he’s so strong! Capable of sitting on the front of the peloton for a long time and equally capable of destroying the bunch on a climb. He is key to Astana’s plan.
Manuele Mori – this quiet Italian, just gets the job done. He rides with Lampre and can help Modolo in the sprints or their GC riders in the mountains. He was 24th in LBL, a sign that the 35 year old is in great form.
Has to be Nibali.
¿Quién ganará el Giro de Italia?
- Rigoberto Urán (23%, 1,021 Votos)
- Esteban Chaves (18%, 787 Votos)
- Vincenzo Nibali (16%, 691 Votos)
- Alejandro Valverde (14%, 605 Votos)
- Mikel Landa (9%, 395 Votos)
- Rafal Majka (7%, 298 Votos)
- Otro (6%, 255 Votos)
- Tom Dumoulin (3%, 149 Votos)
- Ilnur Zakarin (3%, 118 Votos)
- Ryder Hesjedal (2%, 81 Votos)
- Domenico Pozzovivo (0%, 18 Votos)
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