If he would complete cycling’s grand slam – Tour de France, Vuelta a España, Giro d’Italia – it would be with a salbutamol cloud hanging over his head. But let’s forget about that and focus on the racing ahead of us.
Tom Dumoulin, Chris Froome and home-rider Fabio Aru are headlining the 2018 Giro d’Italia. They are the only GC-contenders with one or more Grand Tour victories under their belt. The Dutchman is the reigning Champion in Italy, while Froome and Aru are both lacking a Giro title. Froome won the Tour de France (four times) and Vuelta a España (last year) – Aru pocketed the literally hottest Grand Tour of the season, La Vuelta, in 2015 after a hard battle with Dumoulin. It was an exceptional breakthrough for the Dutchman in terms of his Grand Tour racing, which is ultimately culminated in last year’s Giro victory.
Thibaut Pinot, Simon Yates, Esteban Chaves, Michael Woods and Miguel Ángel López – they are all eager to win their first Grand Tour. Just looking at the statistics, Pinot is best-placed to do so. Recently, the first clash of Giro-contenders took place in the Tour of the Alps. The Frenchman turned out on top with Domenico Pozzovivo and Miguel Ángel López – who pocketed the Queen Stage – rounding out the podium. It became clear that Fabio Aru was not ready for the Giro at all – the Sardinian lost ground when it mattered most, while Froome was also struggling during some crucial moments.
Simon Yates seems to be in fine form, too. Winning stages in both races, the 25-year old Briton finished second in Paris-Nice and fourth in the Volta a Catalunya. Last year, Simon Yates won the Tour de France’s white jersey. Is he ready to rumble with the big boys? Another dark horse is Michael Woods. The 29-year old Canadian started cycling five years ago and he rode his first Grand Tour in last year’s Giro d’Italia. Finishing 38th, he went on to race to seventh place in the ensuing Vuelta. Arguably even more impressive was his recent performance Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In a stellar field, he finished in second – Woods’ first podium in a Monument.
If you take a look at the start list, you can’t fail to notice the lack of stellar sprinters. Basically, Elia Viviani is the only one, so expect him to pocket a number of flat stages. The route features seven opportunities for the fast Italian to shine, while the 2018 Giro d’Italia takes in eight summit finishes.
Looking forward to the first Grand Tour of 2018? Check out the actual cycling betting odds as given by 888sport.
Additional information on the website of the Giro d’Italia.
Giro d’Italia 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Stage 14: Monte Zoncolan
Stage 19: Colle delle Finestre
Stage 19: Colle di Sestriere
Stage 19: Monte Jafferau