The Giro d’Italia starts in Liguria tomorrow, and as the first Grand Tour of the year, as always it’s eagerly awaited. And don’t forget, you can win some great prizes in our Fantasy Cycling competition with Lezyne.
Pre-race favourite for the overall is Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador, seeking the first Giro-Tour double since the late Marco Pantani in 1998, but he faces some stiff competition – not least from an in-form Richie Porte of Team Sky, although last year'schampion, Nairo Quintana of Movistar, isn't here.
Here’s the promotional video for this year’s race, plus another of the Top 10 riders to watch and a preview of the first day’s team time trial stage.
Here’s a look ahead to the rest of the Grande Partenza in Liguria – you can find maps, profiles and much more on the race website.
Sunday 10 May
Albenga – Genoa 173km
Today’s stage mainly follows the historic Via Aurelia coastal road in the reverse direction to when it’s ridden in Milan-San Remo, La Classicissima di Primavera. The San Damiano climb early on will sort out who’s going to be wearing the mountains jersey tomorrow, but it’s a nailed-on bunch sprint.
After that, other than the climb to Prato Zanino, crested with a little more than 50km left, it’s pretty much a flat run towards the city that is one of Italy’s four historic maritime republics – the others are Venice, Amalfi and Pisa – where the peloton’s fast men will fight it out for the win.
Monday 11 May
Rapallo – Sestri Levante 136km
Three days in, and it’s a testing stage for the peloton as the race heads up into the mountains above the Ligurian coast east of Genoa before heading back down to finish a little further along the Tyrrhenian coast at Sestri Levante.
A short stage and one in which the break could form early – assuming no-one’s there perceived as a threat for the overall – and stay away. There are still 20km to go after the final big descent, but with the sprinters likely to have been distanced, there’s little incentive for their teams to lead the chase.
Tuesday 12 May
Chiavari – La Spezia 150km
The fourth and final day of the Grande Partenza in Liguria looks like another short but taxing one. Again, the stage starts and ends on the coast, but like yesterday, there’s plenty of climbing for the peloton to deal with.
The last of the day’s three categorised climbs is just 10km from the finish, so it could be a similar scenario to Stage 3 of the 2013 race when the remains of the peloton reeled in the final rider of the break on the last climb, only for Luca Paolini to jump clear for a solo win.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.