Giro Stage 1 Preview

The race begins. Ahead is scenic stage with the coveted maglia rosa waiting at the finish line for the day’s winner.

The Route: the race arcs around the north coast of Sardinia and if you tune in for the full TV coverage expect coverage of shimmering coastlines. There will be a breakaway because the two early marked climbs will reward someone with the mountains jersey for their efforts.

The late climb to San Pantaleo is significant for its altitude, 200m of vertical gain over 3.5km but the average is 5.6% and if the roadbook lists a scary 12% max it’s to be found on the very inside line of a hairpin bend when otherwise the road is wide and regular and even the hairpins are fast, this should be a few minutes and basta but note the road keeps climbing beyond the village itself. Any sprinter in trouble here just won’t have the legs for much anyway.

The Finish: it’s flat as they roll into town and the road is wide and fast. At 2km there’s a narrow pinchpoint and here the tarmac changes for large flagstones for a moment before some more tight bends. Ahead of the 1km to go kite the road opens up and there’s a humpback bridge over the railway line which is long enough and steep enough to disrupt a sprint train before a reciprocal descent. The road gradually becomes wider, faster and safer with a flat 600m finishing straight.

The Contenders: the Giro has a great startlist… of GC contenders. But among the sprinters the pickings are slimmer, partly because of the route and perhaps because the race got annoyed with so many sprinters bailing out last year. Whatever there are three obvious picks in André Greipel, Caleb Ewan and Fernando Gaviria. Who’s the best? Well this preview doesn’t know and the first stage will be instructive. Ewan comes off two losses in Yorkshire so he doesn’t inspire confidence but the longer dragstrip finish is good for him. Greipel has won a stage in every grand tour he’s ridden since 2008 so maybe it’s a question of when rather than if can win a stage and even if nothing is eternal he should find his way through the field. Gaviria had April off and was a DNF in the rainy GP Frankfurt but has the class to win here.

Sam Bennett

Among the second wave of riders there’s Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), he took a great stage win in Paris-Nice but still isn’t consistent so the Giro will be perfect to try for more wins with team mate Matteo Pelucchi presumably as a leadout but he has won big sprints too. Next there’s Sacha Modolo (UAE Emirates) who is not a prolific winner but has just taken a stage of the Tour of Croatia.

Finally a third tier. Team Sunweb’s Phil Bauhaus is quick but yet to win in the World Tour and Trek-Segafredo’s Giacomo Nizzolo has won the points classification in the Giro for two years running… without a single stage win plus he’s chasing form after a persistent knee injury ruined his spring. Jacub Mareckzo (Willier-Selle Italia) is very fast but like Bauhaus yet to win against top opposition but that be a matter for time for the 23 year old.

Fernando Gaviria, André Greipel
Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett
Modolo, Mareczko

Time bonuses: a reminder that there are time bonuse at the second intermediate sprint (3-2-1 seconds) and the finish line (10-6-4 seconds).

Weather: a top temperature of 25°C although cooler at times. There will be a breeze, up to 20km/h off the coast including a headwind along the finishing straight.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CET. There’s live coverage on home broadcaster RAI in Italy and Eurosport for much of Europe and beyond. Otherwise and are the go-to sites for schedules and pirata feeds.

26 thoughts on “Giro Stage 1 Preview”

    • Sbaragli showed some good form in Yorkshire,but hep is not fast enough to win flat sprint like this but he will benefit from the climb and the distance. He is safe pick for top 10,but he lacks speed to win.
      Moreno Hofland is part of Greipel’s lead-out train and Roberto Ferrari is Modolo’s last man in lead-out train.

    • Sbaragli has won Vuelta stages but often finishes 5-10th in these kind of sprints, Hofland used to be an exciting talent but went quiet and is surely working for Greipel now? Ferrari, maybe but he’s probably below Modolo and Mareczko in terms of the pecking order.

      • Thanks for the reply. Good to know.

        If we think 1 stage a head, we properly know the pink jersey will be on a sprinter later tonight, but
        will the jersey still be on the same person tomorrow night?
        If a sprinter have the jersey, will he be able to survive the Cat. 2 mountain tomorrow? Ain’t Greipel to heavy? (I don’t think Greipel win today tho.. He’s always so poor at position himself early in GT’s, from what I remember..)

    • Not sure I agree. In many sports, cycling included, there are observers who weight victories and losses. I watched the whole Tour de Yorkshire on the home broadcaster (ITV) and they were presenting Ewan as the almost world’s best sprinter. Now that’s not his fault to be sure but even someone who aspired to be should be putting his wins on the table against weaker fields. Its a related problem to the one Kittel has in France in July.

      • It’s a question of perception… is the world’s best sprinter the guy who wins 50 times a year against mixed opposition who may or may not be trying their hardest, or the guy who wins the ‘cup final’ when in theory everyone’s at peak?

    • Ewan certainly considered the TdY 2nd place a loss – even though he took the leaders jersey he was very downbeat in the post-race interview.

  1. Has to be Gaviria today for me – has the kick and the top speed. Ewan was fast in Yorkshire but went too early, he’ll need to sit on Gaviria’s wheel and use him I think if he’s to win, and if he does he might be in the lead for about a metre before the line.

  2. man, i love the giro! so happy it’s starting today and for it to be in sardinia is just tremendous – it is a stunning part of the world. i’m interested to see how the sprints go – with all the focus on GC guys, i’m guessing the sprint trains will not be all that coherent (vs. TdF for example). i think sam bennett will go well in the more disrupted stage finishes.

  3. so it’s ‘live’ coverage from the start is it??

    we have to watch a triple jumper blabbing on, and the break has already gone…. fantastic.

  4. Sprinters don’t often get the chance for the Maglia Rosa that they get in July for the Maillot Jaune so I expect a battle. Since we’re still in the USA (for one more day) we’re streaming RAI coverage via Zenmate VPN, though we’re switching off to Eurosport when the RAI broadcast (Grrrrr!) puts on taped programs. If all goes to plan we’ll be on Etna when La Corsa Rosa arrives Tuesday.

  5. Anyone else screaming at the leaders after that crash, urging them to just crank it up? Seemed there for the taking, especially as, per inrng’s description, we knew the run in would be narrow and twitchy …

    When Postlberger took off I was so happy…

  6. Ha, that was unreal, waiting for him to be swallowed up and then when he sat up to celebrate just before the finish I was half expecting him to lose it.

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