Giro d'Italia 2013: The Big Preview
As the cycling season progresses into May, it's time to turn our attention towards the Grand Tours.
While the spring classics are the action films of cycle races, all thrills and instant gratification at a high octane pace from start to finish, the grand tours resemble slow-burning TV dramas, The Wire on wheels. Each individual episode offers excitement, but it is the overall narrative that intrigues the most, developing over time and moving its protagonists around into a thrilling climax.
The 2012 Giro was no exception, as the tightly-fought battle between Joaquim Rodriguez and eventual winner Ryder Hesjedal built up into a spectacular conclusion in the final weekend, first on the Stelvio where Thomas de Gendt capitalised on a tactical stalemate to nearly steal the race, then in the final time trial where Hesjedal edged back into the lead to claim one of the closest Giros in history.
In recent years, the Giro has shied away from overloading the race with an excessive number of mountains and saught to attract global stars beyond the home favourites, and the 2013 route follows in a similar vein without a major mountain stage until after the first rest day, and Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins on the start list.
For the first time since 2003, the race does not begin with a time trial, meaning that the first pink jersey could well be claimed by Mark Cavendish if he manages to win the flat opening stage in Naples. The peloton will then head south, making up for the lack of stages in the southern regions last year, with a team time trial, a few more flat stages and the occasional inviting hill close to the finish-line, all in the first week.
The first, decisive GC stage takes place on the second Saturday with a 55-kilometre time-trial that looks, and may well have been, tailor-made for Wiggins. Three days later, the peloton enters the Dolomites with a mountain-top finish on the debut mountain Altopiano del Montasio that will confirm which of the favourites have brought their best climbing legs to the Giro.
Stages of varied terrain make up the rest of the second week, until back-to-back mountain top finishes in the Alps to Bardonecchia and across the French border into the infamous Col du Galibier at the weekend, in two stages that will be crucial to the race for the pink jersey. The peloton will then enjoy an easier few days as they head eastwards out of the French Alps, but return to the Dolomites for a blockbuster finale to the race.
First, stage 18's mountain time-trial will give climbers who are good against the clock a chance to gain time. The day after sees three huge ascents, including this year's ‘Clima Coppi', crammed into just 138 kilometres, a structure that could encourage early attacks. And finally, stage 20's five cols, including the Tre Cime di Lavaredo to the finish line, mark it as this year's queen stage and the last shake-up of the general classification.
Come stage 21's celebratory route to Brescia we will have our winner, who, after three weeks' racing on a difficult and well-balanced route, will have earned a deserved victory.
Giro d'Italia 2013: Stages
Links to all stage previews, reports and photos>>
Stage 1, May 4: Naples - Naples, 156km
Stage 2, May 5: Ischia - Forio, 17.4km TTT
Stage 3, May 6: Sorrento - Marina di Ascea, 212km
Stage 4, May 7: Policastro - Serra San Bruno, 244km
Stage 5, May 8: Cosenza - Matera, 199km
Stage 6, May 9: Mola di Bari - Margherita di Savoia, 154km
Stage 7, May 10: San Salvo - Pescera, 162km
Stage 8, May 11: Gabicce Mare - Saltara, 55.5km TT
Stage 9, May 12: San Sepolcro - Firenze, 181km
Rest Day, May 13
Stage 10, May 14: Cordenons - Altopiano del Montasio, 167km
Stage 11, May 15: Tarvisio - Vajont, 184km
Stage 12, May 16: Longarone - Treviso, 127km
Stage 13, May 17: Busseto - Cherasco, 242km
Stage 14, May 18: Cervere - Bardonecchia, 156km
Stage 15, May 19: Cesana Torinese - Col du Galibier, 150km
Rest day, May 20
Stage 16, May 21: Valloire - Ivrea, 237km
Stage 17, May 22: Caravaggio - Vicenza, 203km
Stage 18, May 23: Mori - Polsa, 19.4km TT
Stage 19, May 24: Ponte di Legno - Val Martello, 138km
Stage 20, May 25: Silandro - Tre Cime di Lavaredo, 202km
Stage 21, May 26: Riese Pio X- Brescia, 199km
Giro d'Italia 2013: Teams
Giro d'Italia 2013: Start list tracker>>
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
Androni Giocattoli (Italy)
Bardiani Valvole (Italy)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium)
Sky (Great Britain)
Vini Fantini (Italy)
Giro d'Italia 2013: The jerseys
Maglia rosa (pink jersey) - Overall classification leader
Maglia azzurra (blue jersey) - King of the mountains
Maglia ciclamino (mauve jersey) - Points classification leader
Maglia bianca (white jersey) - Best young rider
Giro d'Italia 2013: TV Guide
The Giro will be aired live on British Eurosport
Full details to be confirmed shortly...
Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro d'Italia in 2012
Giro d'Italia: Recent winners
2012: Ryder Hesjedal
2011: Michele Scarponi (Italy)*
2010: Ivan Basso (Italy)
2009: Denis Menchov (Russia)
2008: Alberto Contador (Spain)
2007: Danilo Di Luca (Italy)
2006: Ivan Basso (Italy)
2005: Paolo Savoldelli (Italy)
2004: Damiano Cunego (Italy)
2003: Gilberto Simoni (Italy)
(*Awarded retrospectively after Alberto Contador's results were voided)
Giro d'Italia: Last year's top 10 (2012)
1. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda in 91-39-02
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 16 secs
3. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM at 1-39
4. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 2-05
5. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3-44
6. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 4-40
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 5-57
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago-CSF Inox at 6-28
9. Luis Henao (Col) Sky at 7-50
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 8-08