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Giro d’Italia 2014

By We Love Cycling

The start of the 97th Giro d’Italia was set in Belfast, welcoming a stellar cast for the start of the season’s first event of the Grand Tours. The race is 3,449.9 km long and will feature four medium and five high mountain stages all with summit finishes in addition to three time-trials and eight sprint stages. Even after all that, the 2014 edition strives to be more humane than in previous years.

Giro d'Italia 2014 - 21a tappa - Gemona del Friuli-Trieste.
(photo: Profimedia.cz)

The 2014 Giro will see fewer transfers and three rest days instead of the customary two. If the stages won’t be easier than usual, at least the activities between them will be. The Giro d’Italia is a world-class sporting event, but is so much more with an energy, passion and atmosphere all of its own.

The Track

When looking at the 217 kilometer-long, stage 15 profile, one would imagine it was drawn by a child trying to make a straight line, starting nice and flat until at the end it shoots straight up to finish at a 1665 meter altitude at Plan Di Montecampione. Even with a rest day in between, everyone’s mind is on stage 16 with two legendary climbs and a third good hard slap in the face to finish, the Passo Gavia at 2,618 m, Passo Stelvio at 2,758 m and a mountain top finish up to 2,059 m at Val Martello all within 139 km. Known as the end of the race for many riders, those who make it past stage 16 need only to survive the last climb to Monte Zoncolan at 1,730 m in stage 20 and then it’s all downhill to Trieste to cross the final finish line!

UK: Giro D'Italia stage 1 - Time trial - Belfast to Belfast
(photo: Profimedia.cz)

The TOP 3

Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) may be absent this time round, with the Tour de France his main target, but the battle for the maglia rosa (pink jersey for the winner overall) is still up for grabs andset to be one of the fiercest yet between the obvious three favourites for the Giro, Nairo Quintana, Joaquim Rodriguez and Cadel Evans.

Finishing on the podium, after all his hardships last year, is Evans’ main goal and by winning the Giro Del Terinto recently he must be feeling confident and ready for a serious shot at winning the Grand Tours during his last season ever.

Nairo Quintana finished second at last year’s Tour de France announcing himself as a challenger for the Grand Tours. He has displayed steady form in the lead up to the Giro. Although he hasn’t raced a lot in recent times, he has no doubt been training hard and will look for a podium finish.

Joaquim Rodriguez has given the entire Grand Tours a serious wake-up call as of late, except for the Giro D’Italia. He, like Quintana, has displayed steady form in the lead up and is also looking for a podium finish.