The course itself offers riders a mix of terrains that will certainly give rise to attacking racing as certain riders will need to make ground early for potential time losses later in the race. In recent days we have seen Chris Horner and Nairo Quintana join Scarponi, Uran, Porte & Evans as confirmed starters for this great race. From a fan perspective, we could not have asked for more. 6 riders that all have quite unique qualities on the bike going head to head will result in what is tipped to be the best race in recent memory.
On paper Quintana probably goes in as favourite due to his incredible ride to second in the 2013 Tour de France. However he will be up against former a former Giro winner in Scarponi, Vuelta winner in Horner, Tour winner in Evans plus Uran who rode to second in the Giro last year after supporting Wiggins earlier in the race & Porte who gets his first chance to lead his team outright.
The start is on the Emerald Isle with 2 stages in Belfast & a stage that will conclude in the vibrant city of Dublin. The opening stage Team Time Trial will decide the first Maglia Rosa wearer. Could we see a local Irish rider take the pink jersey on home soil? The Irish are known for their festive atmosphere so we can’t wait to be a part of the Giro start.
The race will then take a long transfer to the South of Italy wear racing will continue following the extra rest day added to this year’s race. Racing in the South will be more about keeping alert for the overall contenders but as we saw in the 2013 Giro, anything can happen. For the sprinters, it will be a good time to chase glory before they are challenged by the big mountains. Week 2 sees the race follow the interior of Italy to famous cities such as Foligno & Modena, paying homage to Marco Pantani along the way. The climb to Montecopiolo will be one of the first big tests for the GC contenders.
Stage 12 will add a further shake-up to the GC times as the race takes on a 46.4km Individual Time Trial. The stage will be important for the likes of Richie Porte who has the opportunity to take minutes out of the pure climbers, minutes that will be precious as we head in to the final week.
The final week will be one of the best in history. Iconic climbs are frequent in this challenging finish. From stage 14’s climb to Oropa, riders will then be challenged to Montecampione, Gavia, Stelvio, Martello Martelltal, Rif Panarotta. It is not finished there either! Stage 19 is a 26.8km Time Trial to the summit of Cima Grappa. Mountain Time Trials are some of the toughest as expending too much energy early can result in riders ‘bonking’ and losing many minutes over their foes.
From here the overall will be decided atop the mighty Zoncolan climb. In front of massive crowds, the riders will tackle one of the toughest climbs for the coveted Maglia Rosa. In 2013 it was Vincenzo Nibali who stood tall. Who will it be in 2014?
The race concludes in the Mediterranean sea-side city of Trieste, near to Venice. Here it is a party as only the Italians can throw. The riders will do 8 laps of the city circuit, starting with a presentation lap that honours the Maglia Rosa, before the speed increasing to give the sprinters the chance for glory. Mark Cavendish has been the man in recent years, will Kittel or another challenger steal his moment along with the red sprinter’s jersey?