Giro d'Italia 2019: Preview
May 10 2019 10:24 pm CET

Giro d'Italia 2019: Preview
Giro d'Italia 2019: Preview
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The 102nd edition of the Giro d'Italia will kick off in Bologna on the 11th of May and CyclingPub's Mary Cardenas takes a look at what this year's race can offer.

The 2019 Corsa Rosa kicks off with a climbing individual time trial that has the potential of setting the tone for the General Classification competition. The race will include another two fights against the clock which makes that the riders that can perform well in this speciality could have an advantage over the rest.

The contenders for the overall classification could ride conservatively in the two first weeks, trying to save energy and efforts for the fireworks that the last week is bound to offer. The sprinters' show will happen in eight stages and they will animate the flat days.

History

Just like happened with the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia's idea was born at a sports newspaper: La Gazzetta dello Sport - which keeps being involved in the organisation of the race. The first edition of the Corsa Rosa started on the 13th of May of 1909 with a participation of 127 riders, who went from Milan to Bologna in eight stages.

Just before the race stopped because of the First World War, it introduced the team participation and went from a points system to a time classification like the French grand tour started doing earlier. The Giro came back in 1919 after the war and Constance Girardengo took then his first overall victory - he won again in 1923.

In 1931, the director of the race Armando Cougnet introduced the Maglia Rosa, with the colour of the pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport and with the objective of making the leader of the race stand out in the peloton so the public would be able to see him. The first man to wear it was Learco Guerra, who won the first stage between Milan and Mantova.

The next editions had the addition of individual time trials and mountain stages in the Alps, which also brought the King of the Mountain classification. When the race made its return after the Second World War in 1946, the duels of Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi - which had already started before the pause - continued for some more editions.

Fiorenzo Magni was the rider that finished the two-men dominance and went on to win the race two times more. In 1950, the Corsa Rosa had its first foreign winner when the Swiss Hugo Koblet celebrated in Rome his only victory in the race.

The race consolidated as one of the most important on the calendar in the next decades as names like Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon, Miguel Indurain, Marco Pantani, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome added victories to their personal palmares.

This year will be the 19th edition in which the winner of the race will receive the Trofeo Senza Fine - Endless Trophy - that includes all the names of the men that have taken the final victory of the Italian Grand Tour.

Winners of the previous 10 editions:

2009 - Denis Menchov
2010 - Ivan Basso
2011 - Michele Scarponi
2012 - Ryder Hesjedal
2013 - Vincenzo Nibali
2014 - Nairo Quintana
2015 - Alberto Contador
2016 - Vincenzo Nibali
2017 - Tom Dumoulin
2018 - Chris Froome

The route

First week:

The 102nd edition of the Giro d'Italia will kick off in Bologna on the 11th of May with an 8.2-kilometre individual time trial that will challenge the riders as it features a demanding finish that includes ramps of up to 16% with the finish line at the Sanctuary of San Luca.

The next four stages will be of more than 200 kilometres - except the fifth that will be 140 kilometres long - and will include mostly flat courses that are bound to offer a scenario where the fast men will showcase their talents and the General Classification riders can focus on surviving the days in a good position.

The sixth stage will be over a rolling course that will be uphill until six kilometres from the finish, then downhill for three kilometres, after that further uphill to cross the town before a last short descent that leads to a final slightly ascending finish. The seventh stage will also take the riders through an undulating route that will feature the first uphill finish of the race in L'Aquila. The final kilometre has a gradient of around 7% peaking at 11% a few hundred metres before the finish line.

The next day the fast men will have another chance to shine before facing the second individual time trial that will be held between Riccione and San Marino over a 34.7-kilometre route with a course that features uphill sections in the second half.

Second Week

The riders will return from the first rest day to face two flat stages: one of 147 kilometres and another of 206 km. The 12th stage, the peloton will have its first encounter with the mountains and the Alps as it will climb the first category climb of Montoso, a wall that features in the race for the first time ever and includes slopes that can reach 14%, after which it will continue in downhill and straight stretches to Pinerolo.

The 13th day of competition will be the first real mountain stage and will be over a route that features one climb of the second category and two of the first category, including a climbing finish of the Ceresole Reale (Lago Serru) that in its last kilometre includes hairpins and slopes of 9%. The next stage will continue in the Alps and will be held over a route that includes two ascents of the first category, two of the second category and a finish on a third category climb in Courmayeur, that will be eight kilometres long with stretches of 6% in the first three kilometres and 2-3% for the next five until the finish line.

The week will close with a 237-kilometre stage from Ivrea to Como that has a three-category climb at around ten kilometres from the finish after which the riders will go downhill to the line.

Third week

The decisive week for the General Classification will start with two mountain stages after the last rest day of the race. The first one will be a 226-kilometre long Alpine stage that will have over 5.000 metres of vertical altitude gain, including the highest peak of the Giro d'Italia, the Passo Gavia -Cima Coppi- and the first rider to cross it will be awarded the Trofeo Torriani. Then the riders will face the Passo del Mortirolo -first category- and a finish on the mild climb of the Ponte di Legno.

The 17th stage will be held between Commezzadura and Anterselva/Antholz, with one climb of the fourth category and two of the third category, including the final climb with slopes of an average 8.5% gradient from 5.5 kilometres to the finish line. The next day the GC contenders will have a break with a flat course that will also be the last showcase for the sprinters.

The 19th stage will be over a 151-kilometre undulating route that includes one ascent of the third category, one of the fourth and a last one of the second category to San Martino di Castrozza with gradients that hover steadily around 5%. The 20th stage has the potential of being the most demanding of the entire race due to the hardness of its route and the accumulated tiredness of the contenders.

The race will go through the Dolomites and include five long consecutive climbs alternating with milder and flat stretches. The profile features three second-category climbs, and two of the first category, including the ascent of the Croce d'Aune-Monte Avena which is seven kilometres long with an average gradient of 7.4%.

The 102nd edition of the Giro will finish with a 15.6-kilometre individual time trial in Verona that features a fourth category climb midway.

Favourites General Classification

The inclusion of three time trials means that riders that are good at the discipline and can also climb, could have an advantage over the pure climbers. Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Roglic is one of the favourites for the title and his results in the races of the year so far confirm this pick.

The Slovenian has started in three races in 2019 and has taken the overall victory in all three of them: the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie. The rider has also stated the Corsa Rosa is his main objective of the year and all his preparation leads to this moment.

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) also starts in the 102nd Giro d'Italia as one of the favourites, particularly as he already knows what is like to win the race -he celebrated the overall win in Milan in 2017. The Dutchman stated that he fell in love with the race since it started in his home country in Apeldoorn in 2016 and has been in it ever since. He has been doing altitude training with his team weeks ahead of the start of the race to be in optimal condition for it.

Vincenzo Nibali will be the only multiple winner of the Corsa Rosa in the 2019 edition of the race and he's back after one year of absence. The 34-year-old is the favourite of the crowds as he has also taken titles in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, and has finished his altitude preparation in Spain before finishing in the third position of the Tour of the Alps, which confirms his good form.

Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez won the young rider classification in 2018 and comes back to the race as one of the favourites after winning two races this season so far: the Tour Colombia and the Volta a Catalunya. The Colombian has also stepped on the podiums of grand tours last year as he finished in the third position in the Giro and the Vuelta a España.

Other riders that can be strong GC contenders in the race include Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Mikel Landa (Movistar) and Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe).

Sprinters

Eight stages of the Giro d'Italia have the potential of having fast finishes and allowing the fast men to shine. Deceuninck-Quick-Step's Elia Viviani starts the race as one of the favourites for the sprints. The Italian national champion is the favourite not only because he will be riding on home soil, but also because he took 18 victories last season, including four in the Giro.

Fernando Gaviria will be returning to the race after winning four stages and taking the Points Classification in 2017 when he was only 22. Since then he has become the second Colombian to wear the Yellow jersey of the Tour de France and now faces this new challenge with his new team UAE-Team Emirates.

Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan took one stage victory in the Corsa Rosa in 2017 and with his new team has taken three sprint victories so far: one in the UAE Tour and two in the Tour of Turkey. Groupama-FDJ's Arnaud Demare is another one of the favourites and he's looking to add victories in the Giro d'Italia to his palmares, after having taken wins in the Tour de France in 2017 and 2018.

German national champion Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) took nine victories in 2018 and has won four times in 2019 so far. This will be his first time in the Giro d'Italia and he has shown good performances in the season that makes him one of the favourites for the bunch sprints.
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