Buongiorno a tutti, welcome the daily Giro coverage. Don’t call it a prologue, the race opens with an 8km time trial that should be both special to watch and will tell us plenty about the form of the overall contenders.
The Route: a course in two parts, first across the paved squares and onto the big wide boulevards of Bologna until the first time check at 5.9km.
Then the climb to the San Luca basilica – covered in full detail in a roads to ride piece – begins with a tight bend to rob speed and then it’s steep from the start, has tight bends and some sustained double digit ramps before easing at the top but by the time the riders get to the part where the gradient softens it’s a big ask to accelerate. Think of a Mur de Huy, only longer.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won the final stage of the Tour de Romandie less than a week ago. Despite the howling wind, despite Victor Campenaerts deploying a 61T chaining, Roglic won and by some margin. Here the course suits him as he’s quick on the flat and and climbs like a rat up a drainpipe.
Ditto for Tom Dumoulin, only his form is less obvious. He’s among the best specialists on the flat part of the course and can climb fast, after all when he won his world title in Bergen, he flew up the Fløyen climb. Sunweb team mate Sam Oomen should go well too.
Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quickstep) is fast and can cope with a sharp climb. Cast your mind back to 2014 and the fun opening stage of the Dauphiné with the tunnel section but also the sharp climb, the Observance, and he was third behind Froome and Contador and just 21 years old and has improved since then. Like Roglič and Dumoulin if he’s got ambitions for the overall he needs to start by taking time here.
Simon Yates won the Paris-Nice time trial stage to Barbentane. It had a climb but was still a course for powerful riders so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do here. In Paris-Nice he’d sat out of the crosswinds contests and perhaps this kept him fresher plus an early start gave him better weather but all the same he smoked the course. So he could surprise here and one difference is he’s going for a later slot than the other contenders, either Mitchelton-Scott have a different meteorologist* or maybe they’re counting on the wet weather bringing in low pressure, or just relaxed.
What chance for the TT specialists? The likes of Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal), Jos Van Emden (Jumbo-Visma), Tom Bohli (UAE Emirates) and Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott) would have their work cut out on a flat course against likes of Roglič and Dumoulin but the climb today is vicious, 200m of vertical gain in 2km and if the specialists might hope to take 2-3 per kilometre on the flat part, they’ll surely surrender 10-20 seconds per kilometre uphill? Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ) is a TT specialist who has won with an uphill finish but not at this level. Instead the likes of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) could surprise among the pure climbers and his team mate Ion Izaguirre is a good climber and TT rider.
Lastly, no sprinter is going to win today but watch their times because if they can limit the losses then with time bonuses the maglia rosa could be theirs in the coming days. Last year in Israel we saw a managed handover of the race lead from Tom Dumoulin to Rohan Dennis on Stage 2. It’ll be harder to achieve tomorrow but evokes the paradox of the GC contenders who want to take time today but don’t want the race lead for the whole of the first week.
|Tom Dumoulin, Simon Yates, Bob Jungels|
|Izagirre, Lopez, Ludvigsson,|
Prologue? strictly speaking a prologue is an opening time trial up to 8km in length but it is equally possible to start with a time trial and label it as Stage 1 too. So it’s semantics but with one difference: should a rider crash during a prologue and be unable to complete the course they are permitted to start the race the next day and get the same time on GC as the last rider in the prologue; if the opening TT is labelled as Stage 1 and the rider does not complete the course then they are out of the whole race.
Weather: a max of 22°C but this could drop as there’s a chance of a downpour and thunderstorms in the afternoon.
* Meteorologist: yes, some teams do have consultant meteorologists during grand tours for precise info.
TV: many of the top contenders are going early because of the risk of a downpour so you could tune in early at 5.00pm CEST and then duck out before catching the finish. The last rider is due in for 8.00pm CEST / Euro time. It’s on RAI in Italy, Eurosport across most of Europe and Australia, L’Equipe TV in France and Flobikes and Fubo.tv in the US.