A day for the GC contendors as the race heads in to the high mountains says Geraint Thomas

Some of those who began this year’s Giro with ambitions of a place towards the top of the GC, or even getting onto the podium, will already have fallen by the wayside, but today is the day when the battle for the maglia rosa begins in earnest, the first in the high mountains, and the first big summit finish.

The first 135km or so of todays stage are pretty much flat as the riders pass the outskirts of Turin and head north towards the Alps, but the stage will then explode into life with two big Category 1 climbs. First comes the 22km slog of the Col de Joux, followed by a descent to Chatillon where the road heads uphill again, with 27km to be tackled at an average gradient of 5.5 per cent to the finish in Cervinia.

GT: For sure, this will be a GC day and you’ll see them battling it out on the last climb. It’s not too steep but climbing for that amount of time a couple of weeks into the race there will be some tired bodies around, so it will be tough. Maybe not a stage for someone who can fly up the steep climbs, but a good, strong climber. As for the GC contenders generally, there’s been a lot of talk about John Gadret, if he can get into this last week of the race without losing too much time on the flat days, he’ll be a bit of a threat. Roman Kreuziger seemed strong in Romandie and could have potential for the podium. Christian Vandevelde, I’m not sure how he’ll race here, if he’s going for the Tour, then I wouldn’t have thought he’ll race flat out, but he could go for a stage, likewise Ryder Hesjedal. It’s the same with Frank Schleck, whether he’ll go for GC or just look to get round and maybe get a stage. Scarponi, obviously, and Lampre have a three-pronged attack in a strong team when it comes to the mountains with him, Cunego and Pietropolli. Joaquin Rodriguez – I’d put some money on him being on the podium, and Katusha will have a decent team time trial and won’t lose stacks of time.

For more on this year's race read our full Giro d'Italia Preview.

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.