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2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 4 Preview

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What happened on Stage 3

Race leader Michael Matthews has capitalised on a perfect team ride by Orica-GreenEdge, edging  Fabio Felline and Philippe Gilbert, to win the third stage of the Giro d’Italia in the pink jersey and nab his fifth victory in a Grand Tour. If the 2010 U23 world champion had a perfect day, the same can’t be said of AG2R’s Domenico Pozzovivo. The pocket climber crashed hard on the last descent of the stage to Sestri Levante, sliding out on a right-hander, and was forced to abandon. Fortunately, after being taken to the hospital, the team’s officials confirmed that the Italian is doing well and has no broken bones.

What comes now

The riders will line-up in  Chiavari for a short – 150 kilometers – but very technical and intricate stage that ends in La Spezia. It features an unceasing series of climbs, descents and winding roads among the mountains, on mainly narrow roads. After the first few kilometres on level terrain, the route takes in the Colla di Velva ascent, enters Val di Vara and tackles the Passo del Bracco climb. A few technical stretches then lead to the Cinque Terre. The route rolls past Levanto, and then climbs up Passo del Termine (6,1 kilometers, 8,8% average gradient); after Riomaggiore, the “Biassa” tunnel (over 1 kilometer in length) leads to the Gulf of La Spezia. Here, after passing the finish line, the route takes a lap on a 17,1 km-long circuit.

The final circuit, rolling partly on city roads, is very challenging and intricate. The first part (around 4 kilometers) runs through the urban area, and is marked by straight roads and 90-degree turns (watch out for a slight uphill sector on cobbles, stretching about 1 kilometer in length). The following Biassa ascent (third category) rises with a 5% gradient over 3,5 kilometers, and with ramps always exceeding 10% over the last kilometer, with peaks topping out at 14%. A long, panoramic descent begins 10 kilometers before the finish, and ends with 3 kilometers to go. The final kilometres run on straight and level roads, with the home straight being a 700-m long one.

Orica-GreenEdge can make it three victories in four days, after winning the team time trial in Sanremo and the bunch sprint in Sestri Levante. This time, Orica’s man to watch out for is Simon Gerrans, the first pink jersey holder at the 2015 edition, although Michael Matthews said before the race that he’s capable of being at the finish to fight for the win. After missing on the victory on Monday, Fabio Felline and Philippe Gilbert will try to make up for this disappointment, with the mention that former world champion has to attack in order to dispatch the likes of Gerrans and Matthews.

Third in last month’s Giro dell’Appennino, Damiano Cunego (who did a recon here last week) is an interesting rider for this stage, the most likely scenario being to see “Il Piccolo Principe” trying to force a selection on the Biassa climb. His fellow countryman Giovanni Visconti can also go on to the attack, while the likes of Enrico Battaglin, Francesco Gavazzi, Grega Bole and even Ilnur Zakarin can wait for a sprint from a reduced peloton, that is if a breakaway doesn’t make it all the way to the end.

1989 is the year of the previous stage finish in La Spezia (the birth town of Alessandro Petacchi, one of the best sprinters in history, with 48 wins in Grand Tours). Back then, the stage was 220 km-long and saw Laurent Fignon take a memorable victory, his only one at that edition, ahead of Maurizio Fondriest and Phil Andersonn. Two days later, the Frenchman won the Corsa Rosa, his last triumph in a three-week stage race.

2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 3 Preview

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What happened on Stage 2

Elia Viviani timed his sprint to perfection in Genova and overhauled Moreno Hofland on the last meters to score his maiden victory in a Grand Tour. Thanks to this win, Viviani is now first in the points classification, while Michael Matthews is the new leader of the overall standings, ahead of his fellow countryman, Simon Gerrans. Otherwise, it was a tough day for AG2R’s Domenico Pozzovivo, who was caught behind a crash and came to the line 69 seconds behind the pink jersey contenders, his podium ambitions receiving a tough blow early in the race.

What comes now

This stage has a mostly challenging and rough course (with a total difference in altitude of nearly 2 300 meters over 136 kilometers), with the exception of the last 10 kilometers. The first 110 kilometres feature a never-ending series of curves switching in both directions, undulations, climbs and descents on narrow mountain roads. The route starts in Rapallo and first takes in the Ruta di Camogli climb, just a few kilometres after the start, followed by Colle Caprile (second category climb, 6,5 km, 4% average gradient).

The course then clears the Scoffera climb, runs across Torriglia and skirts around Lago del Brugneto. It plummets down into Montebruno, with some technical sections, then climbs up again to the Barbagelata summit (second category climb, 5,7 km, 8% average gradient), followed by a very long descent (with a technical first half, up to Passo della Scoglina) leading to Chiavari and, eventually, to the finish.

The final seven kilometres of the stage course roll along via Aurelia. The route is mainly flat, with the classic undulations of coastal roads. Two kilometres before the finish in Sestri Levante (a town mentioned by Dante Alighieri in Canto 19 of “The Divine Comedy”), a tunnel protecting against rockfall (almost entirely open, with “windows” along the side facing the sea) leads to a short descent, which ends some 1 200 m before the finish. With 850 m to go, a roundabout causes a slight offset in the route. The home straight is 850-m long, on 6.5-m wide asphalt road.

Looking at the profile, it’s obvious that this is a stage in which Michael Matthews can shine, the Aussie having a big chance to bag his second Giro d’Italia victory, after the Montecopiolo one, in 2014. Very strong on the climbs and with a fast finish, Matthews also counts on a team that can control the last kilometers of the race, when it’s all going to become hectic. After having a great Spring so far, which saw him finishing on the podium in the Criterium International and taking a win in Vuelta al Pais Vasco (ahead of Matthews), Fabio Felline is another important contender, as he shouldn’t have any problems making it over the climbs, all while staying fresh for the finale.

Etixx-Quick Step has had a pretty poor start to the Giro, missing on the podium in the team time trial and losing Pieter Serry, who crashed and broke his collarbone, so the Belgian team needs a good result fast, and the man who can bring it is Gianni Meersman. Besides these three, other cyclists who can be in contention on Monday are Grega Bole, Juan Jose Lobato, Luka Mezgec and Simon Gerrans (if anything is to happen to Michael Matthews).

It will be for the 5th time that a Giro d’Italia stage will finish in Sestre Levante, after 1960, 1962, 2006 and 2012. At the previous visit, Lotto-Belisol’s Lars Ytting Bak took the win, after being in the breakaway all day. Sandy Casar came second, Costa Rica’s Andrey Amador was third, while Joaquim Rodriguez stayed in command in the general classification.

2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 2 Preview

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What happened on Stage 1

Orica-GreenEdge put on an impressive performance, winning the team time trial in Sanremo, just as it did in 2014, at Belfast. 34-year-old Simon Gerrans became the 7th Australian rider to wear the pink jersey, after Cadel Evans, Bradley McGee, Brett Lancaster, Robbie McEwen, Richie Porte and Michael Matthews. If Etixx-Quick Step came second last year, this time Tinkoff-Saxo was runner-up, which allowed Alberto Contador to gain time on all his rivals: Fabio Aru, Rigoberto Uran and Richie Porte.

What comes now

This first mass-start stage has a mainly level route, but features a wavier and more challenging profile in the first part, with the Testico climb just a few dozen kilometres from the start, followed by constant gentle undulations, and the “Capi” on the Aurelia road, along the coast of the Western Riviera. On their journey, the riders will also pass through Savona, the town in which Eddy Merckx was announced that he tested positive for the stimulant fencamfamine, at the 1969 Giro d’Italia.

The Pratozanino ascent (4th category) will be the first categorized climb of the 2015 Corsa Rosa, which means that there will be a big fight there between the riders in the breakaway, as the blue jersey automatically guarantees extra publicity. Then, after reaching Genova, the route takes the 9,5 km-long city circuit, which will be covered twice. The course runs through Piazza de Ferrari, then goes down to Piazza Brignole, where the road slowly starts to rise, up to Piazza Verdi. Here, a 1-km dash with a 4% gradient leads to Albaro, followed by a false-flat drag and the descent down into Boccadasse, where the route reaches the seafront. The course runs flat up to the last kilometre (completely straight), where the road climbs steadily, with gradients of around 2%.

Because of this, Michael Matthews is seen as one of the top favorites for Sunday. Not only that he enjoys a finish which isn’t pan-flat, but he has a very powerful team, which can control the bunch to perfection. There’s also the fact that Orica-GreenEdge likes to swap the leader’s jersey between its riders when it has the opportunity, so it could well be the case now. Returning to the race after five years, André Greipel will be another strong contender, although the German doesn’t have the best lead-out, with only Greg Henderson to help him. The Italians will hope Giacomo Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo and Elia Viviani will be in the mix as well, ready to bring the home country an early victory, while Luka Mezgec and Juan Jose Lobato know they have a fair chance on this type of finish, and will look to prove they didn’t came here just to check a Grand Tour participation.

It will be for the 42nd time that Genova – the city of Niccolo Paganini and Christopher Columbus – will host a Giro d’Italia stage. The previous visit here was in 2004, when Bradley McGee won a 6,9 km-long prologue, ahead of Olaf Pollack and Yaroslav Popovych.

2015 Giro d’Italia – Stage 1 Preview

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For the second year in a row, the Corsa Rosa will kick off with a team time trial, which starts from the Ligurian coast, this being the 5th time in the Giro’s history when it will begin here, after 1980, 1987, 1992 and 2007. The race starts from San Lorenzo al Mare, ends in Sanremo and is 17,6 km-long. While the route – which has an intermediate point halfway throught he stage – isn’t technical, it poses a problem as it will be run mainly on narrow cycle paths, before finishing on the Lungomare Italo Calvino, where “La Primavera” used to end up until this year, when the arrival was moved back to Via Roma.

Last year, Orica-GreenEdge won the Giro d’Italia TTT in Belfast in commanding fashion and will look to repeat that feat and thus take the first pink jersey of the race. The team from Down Under has some very powerful engines, such as Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn and Brett Lancaster, and their presence should be enough for the victory in Sanremo. On paper, Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo will be fighting for second place, but also to give their leaders a chance to put some seconds into their opponents, which can act as a first psychological win.

Sky put on an impressive display in the Giro del Trentino and Tour de Romandie TTT, so it should have an upper hand, but Tinkoff-Saxo – while it isn’t a team known for its great time trial – always founds something extra in a Grand Tour, which helps the riders get a good result. Finally, two other squads that can dream of a podium are BMC (the world champion from Ponferrada) and Katusha, with the Russian outfit capable of putting its captain, Ilnur Zakarin, in a great position from the first day of the race, just as it did in April’s Romandie time trial. For other teams which are hoping for a good overall classification – Etixx-Quick Step, Movistar, Astana and AG2R – it will be all about protecting their GC cyclist and making sure they will not lose too many seconds on Saturday.

A Giro d’Italia stage hasn’t finished in Sanremo since 2001, when Pietro Caucchioli took the victory, ahead of Jose Azevedo and Jan Ullrich, while Italy’s Gilberto Simoni was 14th and kept his pink jersey, which he eventually took home.

2015 Giro d’Italia – Teams Analysis

AG2R – travelling to the Corsa Rosa with an in-form Domenico Pozzovivo (who recorded top 10 finishes in all five races he took part so far this year), the French squad will hope to see the pocket climber get a stage win and a top 5 in the overall classification. The roster also includes Carlos Betancur, former winner of the white jersey at the Giro, and it will be interesting to see if he can regain top form and go for a stage. If the Colombian fails again, then it’s difficult to believe he can come back to the top.

Androni Giocattoli – three years have passed since the boys of Gianni Savio took a victory in their home race, so the pressure is on to finally get that stage win that has eluded them for so long. Franco Pellizotti doesn’t seem capable of returning to the form that has helped him finish on the podium in the past, but he can still fight for a stage, especially considering he will get the support of such riders like Simone Stortoni and Serghei Tvetcov. Gianfranco Zilioli is a good shot at a win from a break, while Davide Appollonio and Oscar Gatto will try to mix in the sprints and notch some top 10 placings.

Astana – after his fantastic 2014, Fabio Aru is considered one of the main contenders and his fellow countrymen have big expectations from him. But it will not be easy for the talented Sardinian, who missed important race and training days after falling ill in the past weeks. Besides this, there’s also the long individual time trial from Treviso to Valdobbiadene, which will not work in his favor, and that means Aru has small chances of even being on the podium in Milan. Some stage wins are more likely, besides Aru, other strong Astana candidates being Mikel Landa, Diego Rosa and Paolo Tiralongo.

Bardiani – a team which was the attacking spirit in its blood, Bardiani should score a win and also fight for the mountains classification, thanks to Stefano Pirazzi. Nicola Ruffoni and Sonny Colbrelli will try to be there in the sprints, depending on the course, while Enrico Battaglin and Francesco Manuel Bongiorno are going to join the breakaways in the mountain stages, which will provide them a nice opportunity to get a victory.

BMC – Philippe Gilbert returns to the Giro for the first time in six years and he’ll be keen on making up for a lackluster Ardennes campaign. Even though Damiano Caruso heads the team’s GC bid, when the terrain becomes difficult, look to Colombia’s Darwin Atapuma, who has an important chance of raising his arms in joy on one of the arduous climbs of the Corsa Rosa. Of course, many will also have high hopes from Stefan Küng, already one of the best neo-pros of the season.

Cannondale-Garmin – Ryder Hesjedal has a special relationship with the Giro d’Italia, so the Canadian hopes he can go once again for a top result, although he’s aware that it will be very difficult even to end up in the top 5. Making his debut in a Grand Tour, Davide Formolo – runner-up at the 2014 National Championships – is a promising rider and he should have some opportunities to make himself noticed in the first two weeks.

CCC Sprandi Polkowice – Sylvester Szmyd said he rediscovered his best legs, but also his passion for cycling, which makes him an important man for the Polish squad once the road starts to rise, especially in the last week. Winner of the Tour of Croatia last month and of a Tour of Catalunya stage in March, Maciej Paterski is a good bet from an escape, while the 29-year-old Grega Bole looks poised not to miss a sprint that comes at the end of a selective course.

Etixx-Quick Step – after achieving back-to-back podiums at the past two editions, Rigoberto Uran will once again be a top contender. It’s true that the Colombian lacks some of his rivals’ explosiveness on the mountains (and some real helpers), but he has what it takes to turn the tables around in the 59 km-long individual time trial, where he can put minutes between him and other GC men. Keep an eye also on Tom Boonen, who is making his debut in the Giro.

FDJ – by the looks of it, Marc Madiot’s squad should be the Cinderella of this edition, a team that will have a hard time to feature even in escapes. Still, 27-year-old Alexandre Geniez seems to be having some shape coming into the race – as he has won the Tro-Bro Leon in April – so he’ll surely try something on the mountains, where Kenny Elissonde is also expected to resurrect his career after a disappointing 2014 season.

Giant-Alpecin – first ever Slovenian to take a victory in the Corsa Rosa, Luka Mezgec returns to Italy with a solid team around him, whose mission is to get him in the best position for the sprint. Mezgec isn’t the fastest, but he’s a smart rider and can add a win to his CV this May. But the 26-year-old is also a consistent cyclist and thanks to this he could end up fighting for the points classification. At some moment during the race, expect to see Tobias Ludvigsson and Simon Geschke going into the break.

IAM Cycling – Sylvain Chavanel will race the Giro d’Italia for the first time and will have the opportunity to target some stages and thus save what was a disappointing Spring. Matteo Pelucchi is a rider to be watched in the sprints, where he has what it takes to surprise the big favorites, while Sebastien Reichanbach is going to lead the team for the first time in a Grand Tour and will get support from one of the most interesting neo-pros out there, Clement Chevrier.

Katusha – Luca Paolini will be the captain of the team during the three weeks and his huge experience will surely make the difference as the Russian outfit will be going in many breakaways, in order to nab a stage win. On the other hand, in the roster there’s also Ilnur Zakarin, who is an even more interesting prospect now that he has conquered the Tour de Romandie. The 25-year-old can be one of the race’s revelations and finish in the top 10, but it will all depend on what he’ll do in a very tough last week.

Lampre-Merida – last season, Diego Ulissi had a great run in the Giro, winning two stages (Viggiani and Montecopiolo), but afterwards he was tested positive and missed for almost a year from the peloton. Now he’s back, but it will be a hard task for him to have the same success as in 2014, so Lampre will look up to Sacha Modolo for a win from a bunch sprint and to Przemyslaw Niemiec in the mountains, where the Pole can hope for a nice placing in the GC.

LottoNL-Jumbo – less than a week ago, in the Tour de Yorkshire, the Dutch team notched its first victory of the season, thanks to Moreno Hofland, who will be its main bet for the Corsa Rosa in the flat days. The line-up also includes Steven Kruijswijk – 8th at the 2011 edition – whose main goal this year is the first Grand Tour of the season. Kruijswijk didn’t shine so far in 2015, but the Giro can be the much desired wake-up call.

Lotto-Soudal – the team has decided to send Jurgen Van Den Broeck in the Giro, as a last chance for the Belgian rider to prove he’s GC material, but their main hope lies in André Greipel, who should clock at least a stage win in the first two weeks, after which he can retire in order to focus on the Tour de France. Another rider to follow from Lotto-Soudal will be Louis Vervaeke, one of the most promising neo-pros of the peloton, who had a very impressive run in 2014, as an amateur.

Movistar – this is one of the most powerful teams in the race, capable of putting up a great show and notching at least two stage wins, as well as a strong GC result. Juan Jose Lobato is going to try his luck in the sprints that pose a more difficult terrain, Giovanni Visconti will go in the breaks, while Igor Anton looks to have found his mojo again, just ahead of a race with climbs that really suit him. As for the overall, Beñat Intxausti will be Movistar’s man, but watch out for Ruben Fernandez, the 2013 Tour de l’Avenir winner, who has made some significant improvements.

Nippo-Vini Fantini – Damiano Cunego showed some good form in the events leading up to the Giro d’Italia (Giro del Trentino and Giro dell’Appennino) and this made people think he can have a go at the overall classification. Thing is that it’s very difficult for Cunego to be a protagonist in the GC, a thing even he knows, and this means “Il Piccolo Principe” will be in the hunt for stage wins, with the best climber jersey providing another opportunity for the former winner of the event to shine. Besides him, Eduard Grosu and Daniele Colli will try to be up there in the sprints.

Orica-GreenEdge – is a team of stage hunters, capable of winning on any terrain. Michael Matthews will try to add at least a win to his growing palmares, Simon Gerrans will look for his first victory since last Fall in the hilly stages, while the small Colombian Esteban Chaves can light-up the fireworks on the mountains. In Orica’s roster there’s also another big talent, Luke Durbridge, who should have a go in the long individual time trial that comes at the end of the second week.

Southeast – the Pro Continental outfit gets to ride the Giro d’Italia only thanks to winning the Coppa Italia last season, so will try to put the doping scandals in the past and show it deserves to be here. Alessandro Petacchi is the team’s leader, but in the sprints he’ll guide Manuel Belletti, who is Southeast’s best shot in this kind of stages. Otherwise, Mauro Finetto and Francesco Gavazzi can go in an escape or wait for the hilly stages of the race to make amends and bring their team a much needed victory.

Sky – Richie Porte is the absolute leader of a team which includes Mikel Nieve, Leopold König, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Sebastian Henao, the Aussie coming hear after his best ever Spring campaign, with GC wins in Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya (where he outshone Alberto Contador) and the Giro del Trentino. Still, there’s a question mark when it comes to Porte and Grand Tours, as he usually has a bad day during these races and ends up bleeding minutes. On the other hand, if he can keep the form displayed during the past months, Richie Porte will give everyone else a run for their money. When Sky’s riders won’t be busy protecting him, they will try to help Elia Viviani get that stage win he dreams of for so long.

Tinkoff-Saxo – every member of the team is here for Alberto Contador, who wants to win the Giro d’Italia for the second time (and this time for good, after he was stripped of his 2011 triumph). Unlike many of his opponents, the Spaniard took a long break from races and went for altitude training, hoping it will pay off now. Backed by a fiercely-strong team, that includes Ivan Basso, Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers, Contador starts as the main contender for the win, and if he will have the same form as in last year’s Vuelta, then the Trofeo Senza Fine should be his.

Trek Factory Racing – this isn’t the “A” team of Trek, but don’t underestimate the cyclists of the American squad, as they are capable of getting more than a stage victory. Italy’s Giacomo Nizzolo has a strong train for the flat and can contend not only for a win, but also for the points jersey, while Fabio Felline – who’s had a superb Spring so far – will wait for the lumpy days, where his fast kick can be of big help if a reduced peloton gets to the finish.

Giro d’Italia Stats

Historical stats

– The race was created in 1909 and the inaugural edition was won by Luigi Ganna

– In 1912 there was no individual classification, but a team classification, won by Atala

– Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx share the record for the most GC wins, five each

– Italy leads the nations standings, with 68 triumps, way head of Belgium, which has only seven

– Felice Gimondi has the most podium finishes: 9

– Longest edition took place in 1962 (4180 kilometers), while the shortest one was the inaugural one (2445 kilometers)

– The race had 11 foreign starts until now: San Marino (1965), Monaco (1966), Belgium (1973), Vatican (1974), Greece (1996), France (1998), Netherlands (2002), Belgium (2006), Netherlands (2010), Denmark (2012), Northern Ireland (2014)

– Fausto Coppi is the youngest ever winner: 20 years and 268 days (1940); the oldest winner is Fiorenzo Magni: 34 years and 180 days (1955)

– Olimpio Bizzi (19 years and 299 days in 1936) is the youngest stage winner, while Giovanni Rossignoli (37 years and 186 days in 1920) is the oldest one

– In 1932, Giovanni Gerbi – 47 at that time – became the oldest rider to compete in the event

– Wladimiro Panizza has the most Giro d’Italia starts (18) and finishes (16)

– Between 1909 and 1913, the scoring format used a points-based system, which was subsequently changed to a time-based system

– Only three cyclists from outside of Europe have won the race: Andrew Hampsten (U.S.A.), Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) and Nairo Quintana (Colombia)

– The pink jersey is awarded to the race leader since 1931 and the first rider to wear it was Learco Guerra

– Eddy Merckx has the most days in the maglia rosa, 79

– Andrea Noe is the oldest ever cyclist to take the pink jersey: 38 years in 2007

– Four riders have led the race from start to finish: Costante Girardengo (1919), Alfredo Binda (1927), Eddy Merckx (1973) and Gianni Bugno (1990)

– Two cyclists have lost the race in the last day: Laurent Fignon (1984) and Joaquim Rodriguez (2012)

– There are 14 riders who have won the overall without taking a stage win

– Longest ever stage took place in 1914 (Lucca-Rome, 430 km), and was won by Costante Girardengo

– Shortest one was won by Roger Swerts – 20 kilometers starting and finishinf in Forte dei Marmi – in 1972

– The longest ever individual time trial came at the 1951 edition – 81 kilometers between Perugia and Terni – and was won by Fausto Coppi

– Switzerland was the first foreign country to be visited by the peloton, in 1920

– In 1921, the race began to be filmed in order to be screened in cinemas

– 1928 was the year with the most cyclists at the start: 298

– Alfredo Binda holds the record for the most consecutive stage wins, 8 in 1929, and for the most stage wins at one edition, 12 in 1927

– Another Italian, Mario Cipollini, has the most stage in the history of the Giro: 42

– The mountains classification was introduced in 1933, same year an individual time trial took place

– First edition to feature the Dolomites was the 1937 one; same year, the team time trial was introduced

– The closest winning margin Giro history came in 1948, when only 11 seconds separated Fiorenzo Magni and Ezio Cecchi

– The largest winning margin was recorded in 1914, when Alfonso Calzolari won for 1h 57’ 26’’

2015 stats

– 22 teams (17 World Tour, 5 Pro Continental) will line-up for the 98th edition of the Corsa Rosa

– Of these, two are winless this season: Bardiani and Nippo-Vini Fantini

– The 2015 race start in San Lorenzo al Mare and finishes in Milan, after 3481,8 kilometers and 43 000 meters of vertical climbing meters

– This is going to be the 9th time when the Giro d’Italia kicks off with a team time trial

– Four former winners are at the start of the Giro d’Italia this year: Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador, Damiano Cunego and Ryder Hesjedal

– Sky and Trek are only teams not fielding a single rider from the country in which they are registered

– Cyclists from 36 countries will run the Giro d’Italia: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazahstan, Latvia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.S.A., Venezuela

– As expected, Italy has the most riders in the peloton: 59

– Germany’s Rick Zabel (21 years) is the youngest cyclist at the start, while Alessandro Petacchi (41 years) is the oldest one

– The riders who are at the start have won a combined total of 10 Grand Tours, 14 Monuments, 5 world titles (RR+ITT) and more than 150 Grand Tour stages

– Seven neo-pros will make their debut in a Grand Tour: Giacomo Berlato, Clement Chevrier, Luca Chirico, Eduard Grosu, Stefan Küng, Riccardo Stacchiotti and Louis Vervaeke

2015 Giro d’Italia favorites – race days/wins

Fabio Aru – 15/0

Damiano Cunego – 16/0

Alberto Contador – 19/1

Beñat Intxausti – 25/0

Domenico Pozzovivo – 25/2

Rigoberto Uran – 25/1

Jurgen Van Den Broeck – 25/0

Ilnur Zakarin – 26/1

Ryder Hesjedal – 29/0

Richie Porte – 33/9

2015 Giro d’Italia Startlist

AG2R: Julien Berard, Carlos Betancur, Axel Domont, Hubert Dupont, Patrick Gretsch, Hugo Houle, Matteo Montaguti, Rinaldo Nocentini, Domenico Pozzovivo.

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec: Davide Appollonio, Marco Bandiera, Tiziano Dall’Antonia, Oscar Gatto, Marco Frapporti, Franco Pellizotti, Simone Stortoni, Serghei Tvetcov, Gianfranco Zilioli.

Astana: Fabio Aru, Dario Cataldo, Tanel Kangert, Mikel Landa, Davide Malacarne, Luis Leon Sanchez, Diego Rosa, Paolo Tiralongo, Andrey Zeits.

Bardiani: Enrico Barbin, Enrico Battaglin, Francesco Manuel Bongiorno, Nicola Boem, Luca Chirico, Sonny Colbrelli, Stefano Pirazzi, Nicola Ruffoni, Eduardo Zardini.

BMC: Darwin Atapuma, Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Damiano Caruso, Silvan Dillier, Philippe Gilbert, Stefan Küng, Amaël Moinard, Rick Zabel.

Cannondale-Garmin: Janier Acevedo, Nathan Brown, André Cardoso, Tom Danielson, Davide Formolo, Ryder Hesjedal, Alan Marangoni, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Davide Villella.

CCC Sprandi Polkowice: Maciej Paterski, Sylwester Szmyd, Grega Bole, Lukasz Owsian, Marek Rutkiewicz, Branislau Samoilau, Bartlomiej Matysiak, Nikolay Mihaylov, Jaroslaw Marycz.

Etixx-Quick Step: Tom Boonen, Maxime Bouet, David de la Cruz, Iljo Keisse, Gianni Meersman, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry, Rigoberto Uran, Petr Vakoč.

FDJ: Arnaud Courteille, Kenny Elissonde, Alexandre Geniez, Murilo Fischer, Francis Mourey, Cedric Pineau, Kevin Reza, Anthony Roux, Jussi Veikkanen.

Giant-Alpecin: Nikias Arndt, Bert De Backer, Caleb Fairly, Simon Geschke, Chad Haga, Cheng Ji, Luka Mezgec, Tobias Ludvigsson, Tom Stamsnijder.

IAM: Sylvain Chavanel, Clement Chevrier, Stef Clement, Heinrich Haussler, Roger Kluge, Matteo Pelucchi, Jerome Pineau, Sebastian Reichenbach, Aleksejs Saramotins.

Katusha: Maxim Belkov, Sergei Chernetckii, Pavel Kochetkov, Sergey Lagutin, Luca Paolini, Alexander Porsev, Yuri Trofimov, Anton Vorobyev, Ilnur Zakarin.

Lampre-Merida: Roberto Ferrari, Tsgabu Grmay, Sacha Modolo, Manuele Mori, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Jan Polanc, Maximiliano Richeze, Diego Ulissi, Gang Xu.

LottoNL-Jumbo: George Bennett, Rick Flens, Moreno Hofland, Martijn Keizer, Steven Kruijswijk, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Maarten Tjallingii, Nick Van Der Lijke, Robert Wagner.

Lotto-Soudal: Sander Armee, Lars Ytting Bak, Stig Broeckx, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Maxime Monfort, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Louis Vervaeke.

Movistar: Andrey Amador, Igor Anton, Ruben Fernandez, Jesus Herrada, Beñat Intxausti, Ion Izagirre, Juan Jose Lobato, Dayer Quintana, Giovanni Visconti.

Nippo-Vini Fantini: Giacomo Berlato, Alessandro Bisolti, Daniele Colli, Damiano Cunego, Pierpaolo De Negri, Eduard Grosu, Manabu Ishibashi Alessandro Malaguti, Riccardo Stacchiotti.

Orica-GreenEdge: Sam Bewley, Esteban Chaves, Simon Clarke, Luke Durbridge, Simon Gerrans, Michael Hepburn, Brett Lancaster, Michael Matthews, Pieter Weening.

Sky: Bernhard Eisel, Sebastian Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Leopold König, Mikel Nieve, Richie Porte, Salvatore Puccio, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Elia Viviani.

Southeast: Manuel Belletti, Matteo Busato, Ramon Carretero, Elia Favilli, Mauro Finetto, Francesco Gavazzi, Yonathan Monsalve, Alessandro Petacchi, Eugert Zhupa.

Tinkoff-Saxo: Ivan Basso, Manuele Boaro, Alberto Contador, Roman Kreuziger, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Sergio Paulinho, Michael Rogers, Ivan Rovny, Matteo Tosatto.

Trek Factory Racing: Eugenio Alafaci, Fumiyuki Beppu, Marco Coledan, Fabio Felline, Giacomo Nizzolo, Fabio Silvestre, Boy van Poppel, Kristof Vandewalle, Calvin Watson.

Who will win the Giro d’Italia?

Echipele invitate în Turul Italiei 2015

Giro 2015 Wild Cards

În ultima vreme, organizatorii Corsei Rosa şi-au făcut un obicei din a surprinde atunci când anunţă grupările Pro Continentale primite la start (în fond, e şi aceasta o formă de publicitate). După ce în 2014 au acceptat-o pe Neri Sottoli, în ciuda celor două scandaluri de dopaj în care a fost implicată, acum a venit rândul să îi ofere un wild card lui CCC Sprandi Polkowice, formaţie ce nu a mai concurat în Il Giro din 20013, atunci când Dariusz Baranowski a terminat pe locul 12. Multă lume se aştepta la Colombia sau UnitedHealthcare, însă Mauro Vegni a preferat-o pe CCC, declarând că decizia este legată, în mod evident, şi de interesele comerciale ale companiei RCS Sport.

Lucrurile cu adevărat interesante încep abia acum, deoarece potrivit unor informaţii oficiale, CCC Sprandi Polkowice a intrat în posesia invitaţiei cu condiţia ca Davide Rebellin şi Stefan Schumacher, doi oameni cu probleme de dopaj în trecut, să nu fie prezenţi la start. Dacă va fi sau nu aşa, vom afla la începutul lunii mai, dar cert este că şi fără aceştia, polonezii pot alinia o echipă puternică, din care ar trebui să facă parte Grega Bole, Eryk Laton, Cristian Delle Stelle, Sylwester Szmyd, Josef Cerny, Branislau Samoilau sau Maciej Paterski.

Altfel, calculele hârtiei au fost respectate, şi Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela, Bardiani, Nippo-Vini Fantini şi Southeast au fost invitate la start, urmând să ducă la cinci numărul grupărilor italiene aflate în cursă (cealaltă e Lampre-Merida, din World Tour). Până când va începe Il Giro mai sunt ceva mai mult de trei luni, iar dacă lucrurile vor merge bine pentru Eduard Grosu şi Serghei Tvetcov, atunci România va avea primii doi rutieri din istorie în Turul Italiei. Un moment care va veni la 79 de ani de la prezenţa lui George Hapciuc, Virgil Mormocea, Constantin Tudose şi Nicolae Ţapu – singurii români care au concurat vreodată într-o cursă majoră – în Turul Franţei.

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