Giro Stage 1 Preview

Giro Stage 1 profile

With Fabian Cancellara suffering from stomach problems the way is open for local hero Tom Dumoulin to do the dubbelslag, the “double strike” of the stage win and the pink jersey.

There are three races within today’s Giro opener: the time trial specialists who want the stage win, the overall contenders who want to take time or just avoid gifting too much of it to their rivals and a third contest among the sprinters as the best of the sprinters gets a head start on for collecting time bonuses and the chance to seize the overall lead in the coming days.

The Route: 9.8km and with no surprises, traps or special points. Normally this is the place to highlight some important aspect of the course and offer informed comment on the route but there’s nothing special here, a small railway underpass offers the most gradient and all the corners are regular enough. It’s not particularly scenic either: a straightforward test of power and aerodynamics, no more, no less. The most impressive thing should be the crowd, the Netherlands is a big cycling country but with a relatively small number of pro races so this foreign visit should draw many, even on a Friday.

The Contenders: if time trialling is all about the seconds then Tom Dumoulin has this sorted. Second to Michael Matthews in Paris-Nice, second to Ion Izaguirre in the Romandie prologue, second to Thibaut Pinot in the time trial stage, the worry has been that he’d be second to Fabian Cancellara today. Only the Swiss rider has declared he is ill and so Tom Dumoulin is propelled into the top pick. Tobias Ludvigsson would like a hillier course but will lay down a time for his Giant-Alpecin leader to track.

Doubts hang over Fabian Cancellara with a tale of a bifidus rebellion when he wanted to launch another Spartacus uprising: he’s been struck by a bout of stomach flu. This can be nasty but it can often go as quickly as it strikes and leave the rider a touch lighter and any loss of appetite is not an issue for such a short stage… perhaps the finish on the Loolaan will only encourage him to ride faster? It’s a question of whether the diagnosis has caused nausea, lethargy and other problems and all this means he goes from the top favoriet to below Dumoulin now. Jack Bobridge could be an outsider too.

Is it a two rider race? Hopefully not as there’s a good list of prologue specialists and purebreed dark horses…

Lotto-Jumbo’s Jos Van Emden is a time trial specialist who has been targeting this ever since the route was announced. Hardly a big name he was still fifth in the Tour de France opener last summer and he pops up to win flat course events now and then and will be roared on by the crowd.

Thibaut Pinot’s win over Tom Dumoulin made the headlines but Bob Jungels was third in the Tour de Romandie’s time trial stage. Today could be a touch too flat for him but the Etixx-Quickstep rider should be close.

Tinkoff’s Manuele Boaro is a short distance specialist but seems better suited to tight courses requiring those brake-accelerate-break-accelerate reps.

Stefan Küng‘s had a quiet start to the season after a bout of mononucleosis. A second year pro he had a great start to his pro career last year combining the track and the road and this course is ideal of his power.

IAM Cycling’s Matthias Brändle is famous for his hour record but better suited to short distance efforts. A time trial maniac who tests equipment to perfection he’s perfectly suited to a flat course like this but, Austrian championships aside, he’s only ever had one time trial victory in the pro ranks so it’d be a shock if he won.

Anton Vorobyev might not be on the tip of your tongue but the Katusha rider is one to watch. A barrel chested rider who resembles Fabian Cancellara’s powerful style, the former U23 TT world champion won the Circuit de la Sarthe time trial stage this year. A win would be a shock but he should feature especially as he’s fourth rider off. Rein Taaramäe and of course Ilnur Zakarin should set good times.

Rigoberto Uran will want to set a good time but this is probably too flat and featureless for him to excel against the rest, Moreno Moser could be Cannondale’s best.

Orica-Greenedge’s DNA comes from the Australian track programme and Damien Howson, impressive in Romandie and Michael Hepburn carry the torch today but Aussie track pedigree has struggled to convert to the road of late, it’s not conveyor belt of champions.

Finally Ag2r’s Hugo Houle is a powerful rider and if he can beat Vorobyev, a big ask, could lead the race for a while while watch team mate Patrick Gretsch to see if he can show some form as he’s targeting a good ride in the Chianti chrono.

Sprinter’s contest: However if if, say, Marcel Kittel – once considered a time trial specialist when he turned pro – were to win both weekend stages and all the intermediate sprints along the way he’d stand to win 32 seconds and could and probably should lose as much if not more time.

Tom Dumoulin
Fabian Cancellara, Jos Van Emden, Matthias Brändle
Vorobyev, Küng, Jungels, Moser, Boaro

Weather: sunny and warm with a top temperature of 25°C. A 15-20km/h breeze will blow from the south-west.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. The start order of riders can be seen at the Gazzetta website (PDF).

Eurosport is covering the race across most of Europe. beIN SPORT has the rights in the US and France while Italian host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage with experienced commentators as well as roving reporters on motorbikes to add extra coverage. As ever, cyclinghub and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds. The timing will vary but the finish is expected for around 5.15pm CET each day.

21 thoughts on “Giro Stage 1 Preview”

  1. Great to see Hugo Houle included in this write-up! Not very well known to the casual fan, but this is just his type of effort and he is a solid rouleur for his team. Nice to see our fellow french-canadian get a bit of attention outside of the french-canadian cycling press!

  2. Lotto Jumbo also have Keizer who could surprise. I’ll be interested to see whether they send him off early in which case Jumbo may expect conditions to change or leave him till the last 3 spots with Jos and, I assume, Cruiseship.

  3. With respect to the huge crowds: what might also help is that yesterday was a national holiday in the Netherlands, and most employers “enforce” a collective day off today. So with 75% of the working population (and all of the students) having the day off, in combination with the good weather, the crowds should be enormous.

    • Having been in Utrecht for the st 1 of the Tour last year, I’m sure every inch of the course will be packed roadside today

      • Surprisingly, there were more than a few “thin” spots spectator-wise visible on the TV coverage. As you might guess, I see these foreign adventures as little more than money-grabs whether it’s ASO or RCS.

        • Come on, Larry, do you remember Naples?! The presentation, yesterday, was great, and I found the crowds quite satisfactory today, too. It’s not just money-grabbing from my POV (which implies that, yes, it *is* money-grabbing)… there’s an answer from local people you usually might lack in some parts of Italy.

          • Gabriele, maybe I forgot, what about Napoli? My response was to ” every inch of the course will be packed roadside ” when it clearly wasn’t. Whether I’m satisfied has nothing to do with it – I was just pointing out the prediction came up short.

          • @Larry T.
            The “Grande Partenza” in Naples, in 2013: that’s something which – if repeated for two or three years in a row – might totally kill the appeal of a GT start. The team presentation was deserted, then little or no crowds along the awfully asphalted streets during the first stage. An event can be felt as such when it’s actually… *an event* throughout most of its editions. But I’m seeing that inrng created a specific post on the subject, for if we want to debate it a little longer.

        • Apeldoorn is not a very big town and not as easy to reach as Utrecht, Amsterdam or Rotterdam. I read that there were 75k visitors compared to ~350k in Utrecht (though these numbers are often very rough estimates at best, it’s probably less). I live in Utrecht and I think the grand depart there was a huge success. The city was absolutely packed, though there were thin spots (mostly in places that are difficult to reach unless you lived close by, because the course was closed off for most of the day). With that in mind, 75k for Apeldoorn and a similar length doesn’t seem like much indeed.

  4. Am I correct in assuming that your typical domestique should be looking forward to the time trials as, FOR ONCE, they can ride fully for themselves and not in the service of others? Or, are they still riding in support of their leader in some more abstract fashion?

    I’m pulling for Nibali and Valverde, as I like both of their attacking styles. Watching Landa sprint ahead of Zakarin atop the Colle delle Finestre in last year’s Giro really turned me off to the guy, thus my lack of support for him in this race.

    Congrats to Dumoulin on the win. Hard not to like the guy. One of the few racers who could be congratulated by his King for a good win!

    • Domestiques will often not go full gas if they have little chance of getting a good result – you usually know if you’re any good at time trialling or not. This sves there legs for future stages.

      There is though still a time cut so they can’t just cruise round.

      • Except for Amador, who clearly wants to keep himself in contention. With a TT like that – albeit a short one – it’s perhaps a shame that he can’t ride for himself. As for Landa… well, that TT improvement he mentioned had better have more effect over longer distances.
        I’ve great sympathy for Roglic.

        • Moser didn’t do too bad either! Though I don’t know if he’s purely a domestique or also has a different role in some stages, like Formolo probably has.

Comments are closed.