The 2019 Giro d’Italia Will Be Ferocious. We Can’t Wait!

What you should know ahead of the cycling season’s first Grand Tour.


Whit Yost |

  • The 2019 Giro d’Italia will start on May 11 in Bologna.
  • Chris Froome won the Italian Grand Tour in 2018, but will skip it this year.
  • Favourites right now include returning champions Tom Dumoulin and Vincenzo Nibali, as well as rising star Primož Roglič.

After an unprecedented start in Jerusalem last year, the Giro d’Italia will return on Saturday with a more conventional (but notably tough) course that stays almost entirely in Italy. The race’s 102nd edition will kick off in Bologna, end in Verona, and feature several returning champions and stage winners battling it out for biggest win of the year so far.

Here’s everything you should know about the first Grand Tour of the cycling season, along with some bold predictions for who might walk away with the maglia rosa – the overall leader’s pink jersey.

When

The 2019 Giro will begin on Saturday, May 11, and finish on Sunday, June 2.

Route

This year’s Giro has 21 stages and covers 3,518.5 kilometres with three individual time trials, seven summit finishes, and six days for sprinters. After an ITT on the first day in Bologna, riders will go down and across the Italian Peninsula, then head back up the Adriatic Coast before snaking through the Italian Alps, ending with a final ITT in Verona. The race’s highest point is the famous Gavia Pass, a paved mountain pass arriving on Stage 16. With most of the climbing back-loaded into the final week, expect an exciting and dramatic finale.

How to Watch

The entire Giro d’Italia (as well as the women’s Giro Rosa) will be available live on SuperSport 5 & 6.

What Happened Last Year

After spending 13 days in the pink jersey thanks to stage wins and time bonuses in the first two weeks, Simon Yates of Mitchelton–Scott cracked in spectacular fashion on Stage 19. It was then that Team Sky’s Chris Froome blew the race apart with an 80K solo breakaway through the Italian Alps. Coming back from a more than three-minute deficit in the General Classification, Froome entered the final weekend with only a 40-second margin over the defending champ, Tom Dumoulin.

But as we’ve seen so often, Sky put the clamps down at the front of the race, and there was little Dumoulin could do as Froome completed a historic Grand Tour hattrick after his wins in the 2017 Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Froome won’t return this year, however, choosing instead to focus on winning a fifth Tour de France title in July.

Giro d’Italia

Chris Froome, in the overall leader’s pink jersey, during Stage 20 of the 2018 Giro d’Italia.
Tim de Waele Getty Images

Riders to Watch

In Froome’s absence, two former champions will headline this year’s list of contenders: Dumoulin, who won in 2017, and Vincenzo Nibali, who took the title in 2013 and 2016.

Dumoulin will benefit from the three time trials, especially that flat final stage in Verona. He won his first Giro thanks to a similar last-day ITT, overtaking three men ahead of him in the GC. If he can stay within a minute of the race’s best climbers through the mountainous final week this year, he could overtake them again to earn his second overall victory.

At the recent Tour of the Alps, a mountainous stage race that many Giro contenders use as their final test event, Nibali showed himself to be in some of the best form of his career. An aggressive rider with a habit of timing his form just right, he would love to add a third Giro to his resume while also driving up the asking price as he negotiates with new teams for next season.

Giro d’Italia
Tom Dumoulin seized his win at the 2017 Giro during the final individual time trial.
Tim de Waele Getty Images

And let’s not forget Yates. The Briton learned a lot of hard lessons last year – lessons he applied to winning the 2018 Vuelta a España in September. Eager to make up for last year’s dramatic implosion at the Giro, and buoyed with confidence following his win in Spain, he’s an easy pick for at least a top-three finish.

That said, our favourite is Primož Roglič, a former world-class ski jumper who has quickly risen to the upper echelon of cycling’s stage racers. After finishing fourth overall in last year’s Tour de France, the Slovenian set his sights on the Giro and won all three races he’s entered so far this year: the UAE Tour, Tirreno–Adriatico, and last week’s Tour of Romandie.

A rider who can climb with the likes of Nibali and Yates and time trial as well as (if not better than) Dumoulin, Roglič is our pick to win. We’d love to see him take a perfect 4-for-4 this season.

This article originally appeared on bicycling.com.

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