Giro d’Italia preview: the key stages and riders of La Corsa Rosa

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05.05.22 at 10:12 am

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Ivrea, Italy May 26, 2019: Professional Cyclist just before the start of a hard mountain stage of the Giro d'Italia 2019

With the Spring Classics in the history books for another season, the cycling world’s attention now turns to the first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d’Italia. To many, La Corsa Rosa is the most historic and beautiful Grand Tour, with the Italian people being some of the most passionate cycling fans in the world, the race weaving itself into the fabric of everyday Italian life.

Starting in Budapest, Hungary, the peloton will cover a total of 3,445.6km route in three weeks, visiting exposed coasts, high mountains, rolling hills and fast, flat roads before finishing with a race of truth (individual time trial) in the historic city of Verona. This might just be the hardest Giro ever.

The 2022 edition of the race will be the 105th, and with defending champion Egan Bernal out injured, we will see a new rider in the maglia rosa and a new name engraved on the iconic Trofeo Senza Fine (‘never-ending trophy’).

In a Grand Tour that is as much about the history as it is the bike racing, with some epic scenery sprinkled in for good measure, who will follow in the footsteps of legends this time around?

Key Stages

Stage 2, 7th May: Budapest Budapest – 9.2km (ITT) – An early ITT means that GC contenders must be on top form from the start. Time gaps shouldn’t be too large, but a poor a result here could immediately put a favourite on the back foot.

Stage 9, 15th May: Isernia Blockhaus 191km – One of the contenders for ‘queen stage’ takes in over 5,000 metres of altitude gain on its way to the famous Blockhaus. It’s rare for such a big test to come this soon, especially with just the Etna climb beforehand, so expect GC casualties. The Blockhaus is known as the summit on which Eddy Merckx made a name for himself, taking a famous victory on the climb aged just 21.

Stage 16, 24th May: Salo – Aprica – 202km – Another brutal day in the mountains awaits on stage 16, with a 202km route including 5,250 metres of elevation. This is arguably a second queen stage – and partly why this Giro is being considered so tough – with the most famous ascension of the day on the Passo del Mortirolo, the home of a young Marco Pantani’s 1994 stage victory. This is a climb where legends are born.

Stage 20, 28th May: Belluno Marmolada168km – The final summit finish will be atop the Passo Fedaia at the end of a short and sharp day in the Dolomites. Along the way, the peloton will crest the Cima Coppi (the highest summit of the Giro, which holds its own prize and a massive pot of KOM points) at the Passo Pordoi. It will be a crucial point in the KOM blue jersey race.

Stage 21, 29th May: Verona Verona – 17.4km (ITT) – The Giro has become famous for final day TT showdowns and this year it returns to Verona for a 17.4km race against the clock. The 4.5km climb right in the middle of the stage may just decide who takes the maglia rosa home after 21 days of fierce racing.

The Contenders

Richard Carapaz – The Ineos Grenadiers have made it no secret that they intend to win the race, and with the 2019 Giro champion as their leader, they have every chance of doing so. With no Filippo Ganna to breeze through the TTs, the British outfit is once again putting all of its eggs in the GC basket.

Tom Dumoulin – The Dutchman’s first time as Jumbo-Visma leader at a Grand Tour is upon us, and after some time off, he’s a little bit of an unknown quantity. Regardless, Dumoulin’s TT skills make him a major threat, just like in 2017 when he won on the final day in Milan.

Simon Yates – So close to victory in 2018, Simon Yates is back at the Giro to go for pink once more. He’s on form too, having recently taken two stage victories at the three-day Vuelta Asturias.

Romain Bardet – He’s come close a few times, but the big Grand Tour victory has remained elusive so far for the Team DSM rider, but after an overall win at the Tour of the Alps, could 2022 be the year he breaks almost three decades of French hurt?

João Almeida – After an unexpectedly long stint in the maglia rosa in 2020, dual leadership at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl didn’t suit the Portuguese rider last season. After moving to UAE Team Emirates in the off-season, Almeida has sole control again and will be aiming to at least reach the podium this time around.

Hugh Carthy – The Lancastrian climber may not come into the Giro with the greatest of run-ups, but never count out the EF Education-EasyPost rider when the road turns skyward.

Iván Sosa – Moving from Ineos Grenadiers to Movistar this winter has opened the door to Grand Tour leadership for the Colombian, who arrives in Hungary fresh from overall victory at the Vuelta Asturias. With veteran Alejandro Valverde also in the team, Movistar has a good chance at a top result here.

Mikel Landa – After a series of misfortunes and poor performances, ‘Landismo’ is back for another Grand Tour with the knowledge that his chances are running out. The Bahrain-Victorious rider would be a popular winner, but the TTs alone could rule him out.

Other potential contenders: Miguel Ángel López & Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis).

The Sprinters

Caleb Ewan – Lotto Soudal’s Australian pocket rocket will need his somewhat faulty lead-out train to be on their best form to get the better of the other sprinters.

Mark Cavendish – Still going strong and ready for yet another Grand Tour, the Manx Missile has the best lead-out train in the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team, and he has the speed and know-how to take multiple stage wins.

Mathieu van der Poel – Okay, he isn’t a pure sprinter but no Tim Merlier for Alpecin-Fenix means he’ll likely be sharing sprint duties with new teammate Jakub Marezcko throughout the race, and both would be a good shout in any fast finish.

Biniam Girmay – The latest ‘do it all’ sensation in cycling is set to take on his first Grand Tour looking to reinforce his versatility. A bunch sprint victory here would be a fitting way to celebrate the signing of a new long-term contract with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, and continue an already incredible season for the Gent-Wevelgem-winning, history-making young Eritrean.

Other Notable Sprinters: Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Cees Bol (DSM), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Davide Cimolai (Cofidis).

Words by Luke Williams

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