The 2014 Giro d’Italia is just around the corner and both Canyon ProTeams are set to be right in the hunt for the coveted “Maglia Rosa”. With 21 stages, two time trials, one team time trial and a whole host of big mountain stages, this year’s edition promises to be a close-fought classic.
In a race that will favour the featherweight climbers of the peloton, Nairo Quintana of Movistar Team and Katusha’s Joaquim Rodríguez line up at the start as marked men for the title. As two of the best climbers in the world, both have a proven track record over this kind of terrain.
Blues vs. Reds.
Canyon vs. Canyon.
Get ready for some epic racing as the 2014 Grand Tours get underway…
Rodríguez: “It’s time I netted a Grand Tour”
Purito is without doubt one of the most consistent Grand Tour riders in the world with a number of podium performances to his name, most recently 3rd place at the 2013 Tour de France. However, he has yet to stand on the top step at the end of a three week race. In the 2012 Giro d’Italia he came agonisingly close, taking two stage wins aboard his Aeroad CF and wearing the Maglia Rosa for much of the race before losing his lead in the final time trial by just 16 seconds.
This year could be very different. Purito has targeted the Giro as his main objective for 2014: “It’s a route which suits me. It’s got a lot of long, hard stages.” Despite a disappointing showing in the recent Ardennes classics where he suffered injury from crashing, Rodríguez wrapped up the Volta a Catalunya in style earlier this year against an incredibly strong field and rightly goes into the race as one of the main favourites.
The 2013 Giro was a huge success for Katusha with stage wins from both Maxim Belkov and Luca Paolini and multiple days in pink. The Katusha squad will be focussed on shepherding Purito through the mountains where the race will be decided: “The team is a very strong one, well-focused, and that’s always important.”
Quintana steps up to leadership
One of the performances that got people talking most in 2013 was Nairo Quintana’s debut Tour de France. After taking 2nd place overall, the best young rider’s jersey, the polka-dot jersey, not to mention a stage win, it was certain to all that it’s only a matter of time before the Columbian climber bags a Grand Tour. With a course so packed full of climbing, that win could come even sooner than many expected as Quintana takes to the start in Belfast as the man to beat.
With a stage race win and a number of consistent performances coming early in 2014, Quintana clearly has the form, and as last year’s Tour de France showed, the stamina to last three weeks. Movistar Team have a number of mountain domestiques to aid Quintana in his bid for overall glory but can also look elsewhere for success. Adriano Malori is racing his home Grand Tour and will have his eye on the stage 12 time trial, with two TT wins already under his belt this season it would be hard to bet against him.
Quintana and Rodríguez will have their work cut out if they want to arrive in Trieste wearing pink. This year a number of strong contenders will line up at the start to ensure an incredibly open race for 2014. Those to watch out for include BMC veteran Cadel Evans and OPQS’s Rigoberto Uran, both of whom finished on the podium last year. Past winners of the race riding this year include Ivan Basso of Cannondale, Michele Scarponi of Astana, and most recently, 2012 winner Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin -Sharp.
As is increasingly the trend with the Grand Tours, this year’s Giro d’Italia will get underway on foreign soil, this time in Belfast, Northern Island. Two sprint stages on the Emerald Isle follow the opening 21 km team time trial around Belfast on Friday, which will determine who gets to be the first rider to pull on the pink jersey.
After its brief stint abroad and a rest day after the weekend, the race returns home to the heel of Italy on Tuesday 13th May. The first real test for the GC contenders comes the following Saturday with the first category summit finish to Montecopiolo in the Apennines mountains. With gradients creeping up to 13%, stage 8 will provide the first proper climbing showdown.
The next big test in the second week comes in the form of a 42 km individual time trial over the rolling Barolo vineyards. This stage is bound to have a big impact on the general classification and will likely define the rest of the race. Both our teams will deploy the Speedmax CF for absolute efficiency on the climbs and maximum speed on the flats and descents.
Two first category summit finishes lie in store over the following Saturday and Sunday providing no let-up for the riders before the Giro heads into its brutal final week. When names like the Stelvio, Monte Grappa and Monte Zoncolon appear the end of a 3 week stage race, you know it’s going to hurt… Stage 16 will be explosive as the riders tackle three big summits in just 139 km of racing.
Then on Friday there will be no place for the riders to hide as they face an excruciating 26 km mountain time trial.
Saturday brings the dreaded Zoncolon for the final GC battle. The Zoncolon has achieved legendary status in the Giro with its unfathomably steep 20% pitches and uneven gradients. It’s more like climbing a wall than a road. Massive crowds will line the mountain on this day as the final places in the GC are settled.
The following day marks the final stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia with a procession into the city of Trieste before a fast sprint finish.
Check back here for more content throughout the race and look forward to an action-packed 2014 Giro d’Italia!
Team Katusha Line-up: Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa), Maxim Belkov (Rus), Giampaolo Caruso (Ita), Vladimir Gusev (Rus), Alberto Losada (Spa), Daniel Moreno (Spa), Luca Paolini (Ita), Angel Vicioso (Spa), Eduard Vorganov (Rus)
Movistar Team Line-up: Nairo Quintana (Col), Andrey Amador (Crc), Igor Anton (Spa), Eros Capecchi (Ita), Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa), José Herrada (Spa), Gorka Izagirre (Spa), Francisco Ventoso (Spa), Adriano Malori (Ita)