Friday Group Ride #216

Friday Group Ride #216

The Giro d’Italia starts May 9th in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a potentially cold, wet start for a peloton anxious for some post-Classics warmth. Stage 1 is a team time trial (TTT) through Belfast. Stage 2 rolls north from the capital city up along the coast, with the potential for high wind chopping up the group. Nerves are always taut in the first week of a Grand Tour, so keep an eye out for crashes on this one. After Stage 3 from Armagh to Dublin, the race takes a transfer day before restarting on the Adriatic coast, just north of Bari.

Key stages include the Stage 12 ITT. This one will give the non-specialist climbers a chance to put time into contenders like Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who will spend an hour trying to limit their losses. Whatever equalization comes out of Stage 12 sets up the end of the race which tilts hard back toward the skinny men.

Stage 19 is a mountain ITT to Cima Grappa with maximum gradient of 14%, and Stage 20 finishes on the legendary Monte Zoncolan. Coming so late in the race, these steep stages will likely determine the overall winner and also challenge many who just hope to finish the race with fast cut off times.

Possible GC winners include Michele Scarponi (Astana), Ivan Basso (Cannondale), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar), Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), and Cadel Evans (BMC)

There are three former winners in this group: Basso twice (2006, 2010), Hesjedal (2012), and Scarponi (2011, after Alberto Contador’s disqualification), and Evans finished third last year. He and Basso are both long in the tooth, but experience counts for something. My pick is Quintana, the purest climber in the race and a rider coming into the peak of his career.

The Giro represents the hard shift from Classics season to Grand Tour season, and in recent years it has grown in prominence as clever course design and close GC battles have helped it outshine its imposing French cousin. It’s a beautiful race with relatively few helicopter shots of chateaus to distract from the heated racing.

This week’s Group Ride asks, who do you like for the win? One of the old dogs? Is there a dark horse I haven’t mentioned? Will you be watching, or do you save your daily race slavery for the Tour de France?

Image: Fotoreporter Sirotti

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15 comments

  1. Kurti_sc

    Good! That gives me time to get over there and pre ride the toughest sections so I can talk smack about all those pansies. As if!!
    An earlier post asked about the off/on love affair of watching pro cycling. Well the beauty of the classics had Thier effect and I’m on it again. Yeah.

  2. Margaret

    It sort of looks like Dan Martin might be Garmins’ GC guy for the Giro. Perhaps Hesjedal is plan b? They are both very good though so it will be interesting to see how things develop for the Garmin riders. That said, I think Quintana will win.

  3. Paul

    Really looking forward to the daily races, especially the live news ticker (adds a little excitement to my day without interfering too much with work).

    Will I be watching? No, NBC is showing the Tour of California instead (I’ll follow that too).

    Rooting for Dan Martin overal and Mark Cavendish in the sprints (though Quintana and Kittel are more likely). Kittel rides a Giant (same brand as mine), so I’m happy either way between those two.

  4. Shawn

    I thinks it’s Quintana’s race to lose. Cadel will put up a brave fight but I cannot see him out-climbing Quintana in the last week. I would love to see Dan Martin stay healthy for all 3 weeks and race aggressively at the end. @Margaret both Ryder and Martin are co-leaders of Garmin for the Giro but I haven’t seen Ryder do much this year to indicate winning form.

  5. Maremma Mark

    I wouldn’t bet the rent on Scarponi, Basso or Evans. Granted, they’re all highly experienced and accomplished pros but I can’t quite see them on the podium steps at the end of three weeks. The other possible winners Robot listed are good picks, any one of them could blow the race wide open. I wanted to throw three more names out there for consideration; Fabio Aru of Astana, Ivan Santaromita of Orica and the guy who I think will actually win the Giro this year, Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha.

    Aru is young but already has one Giro d’Italia under his belt, growing stronger in the third week after suffering with a stomach virus for the first 10 days. He can climb and time trial and has good race sense. He’s is supposedly there to assist Scarponi but I wouldn’t be surprised if the roles were reversed.

    Santaromita is above all a time trial specialist but can also climb quite well. Finally able to step out of the supporting role of “gregario” that he had at BMC, he might surprise a lot of people. Last but not least, Rodriguez. I can almost see Robot slapping his forehead for forgetting his name. Rodriguez will be on a mission, so many times a bride’s maid, I think this year will see him on the top step. He would certainly be a worthy victor of the Giro.

    1. Larry T.

      I’m with you Marco! I hope for a good, close race with better weather than last year…and that I can make it up the Zoncolan.

    2. Tom in Albany

      Maremma, after watching today’s uphill TT, you have proven your prognostication chops. Aru has more than just shown up. He has a bright future!

  6. Quinton Hamp

    Still early enough in the season it seems like a lot of the “Old Guard” has been struggling through the classics. I think a young, hungry contender actually has a chance to make a name for himself this year.

    Or Quintana.

  7. SusanJane

    Quintana, Uran — most talent and most grit
    Evans — would love to seem him on the podium but missing that last little bit of umph
    Rodriguez — he knows how to fight and he should be on the podium
    Scarponi — maybe… maybe not… just lacks a certain something for me, fire maybe?

    The problem with the others is they can have records of fabulous good days _and_ horrendous bad days. A bad day that results in being dropped like a stone and loosing huge chunks of time happens to these guys. Can’t win the Giro that way. I wouldn’t bet on any of them.

  8. Paul I.

    Basso? No, not going to happen, that ship has sailed. JRod for sure is in with a chance, and perhaps little Pozzovivo. But it’s Quintana’s race to lose.

  9. Tom in albany

    Much to my boss’s chagrin, I’ll be cranking up the NRRBBB with Mr. Pelkey! I love the grand tours.

    I think Basso and Evans are too long in the tooth. That’s what I said about Horner last year too! Horner pipped them with good form and the willingness of the peloton to believe he was too old. That won’t happen again. Sorry Ivan and Cadel. When I look at the riders you’ve mentioned, Quintana seems the odds on favorite for such a vertical grand tour. I am curious about Senor Uran Uran. He seems to have some chops and will fare better in the ITT.

    All that said, I’m going with Quintana and Purito duking it out. Quintana for the win because he excels at the long climbs whereas Purito is best at sprinting away at the end on a steep.

  10. gmknobl

    I’d love to see Martin turn in something good. As co-leader with Ryder he can do something on one of the mountain stages but he’s not really been doing much in the GC before, despite a 13th. Ryder has no results this year. Well minor results. He’s improving though so he’s a dark horse but I suspect he’ll be foil for Martin or vice versa. If something goes wrong I think they’ll try for stage wins but that will only be allowed IF they are well down on time. I don’t think either is good in the TT but being a hilly one, that will help them.

    It is Quintana’s to loose though and I’ll echo others who say Evans and Basso are not going to do anything other than finish in the top 10 – or five if they are in good form. Evans may but not Basso for 5th.

    Purito still has that ability to do well but I suspect will be dropped on the long climbs at the end of the race if not before. Uran will hang but beat the tinier climbers; I don’t think so.

    I think we will see some new guy this year as we usually do but I have no idea who. Is that young guy from Quick Step riding the Giro? Maybe him if so. But as always, allergies will be a big problem for some of the contenders and will alter much of the race. A few crashes will too but hopefully no tacks on the course.

    Sprinters? Vivianni, if he’s there, Kittel and Cavendish. Is The Gorilla there? Kittel will win the sprinters but Cavendish should get a stage or two is my guess. It all depends on the lead out train and if it can be established and not interrupted. But Kittel has the speed now to beat Cav in a drag. And Vivianni can take the odd stage too. There, if those guys are there (I know two for sure as I’m not looking at the start list) that’s how I think it will play out.

    1. gmknobl

      Well now, don’t I feel stupid now that I see Cavendish isn’t at the Giro this year.

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