Note: the following was written and publised before the start of the Giro d’Italia.
The Spaniard won the Giro in 2008 and, despite being superior in 2011, he had to give back that last victory due to a positive clenbuterol the prior season. 2014 saw him crush his opponents in the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country, however his big goal – winning the Tour de France – eluded him after crashing out in stage 10. He returned strong, not only by taking the Vuelta overall, but shining in mountain stage 16 and the Queen Stage to Ancaras also.
In 2015 Contador’s focus is on the Giro/Tour de France double. If he is as strong as in 2014 that’s a realistic option. However, so far he didn’t win any races this season. Brilliant preparation, or lack of form…?
Had a poor 2014 season, but the Tasmanian is back to his best self in 2015 – or shall we say his better-than-ever self? He won Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino. The victory in Catalunya was all the more interesting as he outperformed his rivals Alberto Contador, Rigoberto Uran and Fabio Aru, making Porte a top-favourite in the 2015 Giro.
The young man from Sardinia hit it off big time in 2014 with stage victories in both Giro and Vuelta. The year prior to that big break, 2013, saw Aru debuting in the Giro at 43rd in the overall, but more importantly he helped Vincenzo Nibali winning the GC. This year he is leader of Astana and it will be interesting to watch the battle of young against old. In the 2014 Vuelta both Contador and Aru were at the start with the old master beating the young talent by 4’48”. What did the winter do for the talented rookie? His first race Paris-Nice turned out to be quite a disappointment with him finishing 25 minutes down on winner Richie Porte, while Catalunya brought some improvement and he finished 6th place.
Uran finished second in the last two editions of the Giro d’Italia. In 2013 he was catapulted to be the leader at Sky halfway down the race when Wiggins abandoned and last year he was the undisputed leader at Omega Pharma (now Etixx). Will the Colombian flourish in 2015? Is he a real leader? The Giro will tell. Just turned 28 and is in the prime of his life. The first seriious test this year was the Tirreno and Uran finished third, besting Contador. In Catalunya, however, he finished after his competitors in Italy, Porte and Contador, while beating Aru.
Riders to watch:
Ilnur Zakarin – Won recent Tour de Romandie and bested the likes of Froome, Quintana, Nibali, Uran and Pinot in doing so. Outstanding time trialist, decent climber.
Mikel Landa – Is in the Giro to help his leader Aru, but if necessary a good GC contender himself. In the Tour of the Basque Country he won the stage at the super-steep Muro de Aia and he was runner-up in the Giro del Trentino, only outperformed by Porte.
Giro 2015: Route, profiles and more
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