The 2017 cycling season is well and truly underway and we are starting to get an insight into who is targeting which race and who looks in form ahead of them. Now in Belgium the classics have begun with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with the big names like Van Avermaet and Sagan showing their early season form with respective wins. But while the classics riders prepare for a big spring showing, March is also when we will see the contenders for the first grand tour of the year start to stretch their legs for form leading into a special 100th anniversary Giro d’Italia!
Preparation for the contenders of this year’s Giro commenced with the recent Rote del Sol in Spain and the Abu Dhabi tour in the UAE. We saw some good early from the Frenchman, Thibault Pinot, winning the queen stage at Ruta del Sol – overcoming former Giro and TdF champion, Alberto Contador. Nairo Quintana showed that he too is in top shape at the start of the year, taking an emphatic victory at the Tour of Valencia and backing that up with a good showing in Abu Dhabi.
So who do we think will win?? With arguably one of the best line ups to race the Giro d’Italia in recent years, we put together our top contenders and wildcards for the 100th edition…
The 2014 Giro winner and 2016 Vuelta winner has built a reputation as one of the best GC riders of recent times and is often flagged as one who could beat Chris Froome at the Tour de France.
This year he confirmed he would attempt to win both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the one year… a feat last done by Marco Pantani in 1998. Time will tell if he can achieve the double, but on early season form he looks the one to beat come the start of the Giro in Sardinia in May.
Probably would have won the Giro last year if not for crashing at the top of the decent of the Coll dell’Agnello on stage 19. He came so close to becoming the first Dutchman to win the Giro, no doubt providing extra motivation for this year. We haven’t seen much of him as yet this year so his form at Paris Nice starting in a few days’ time will give us a good idea if he can fight for the overall victory again in 2017.
I think the best of the local hopes…. Sorry for all those Nibali fans out there, but perhaps he won the last of his grand tours last year, maybe I will be proved wrong… But onto Aru, he will have the extra motivation of the race starting in his home town and no doubt the weight of the country on his shoulders to deliver a victory for Italy in the centenary edition of the race.
Tom showed us in the 2015 Vuelta that he could one day win a grand tour, holding the leaders jersey almost to the final stage. A known performer against the clock he surely targeted the Giro due to the 67km of time trialling. The big question is, can he limit his time losses on some of the big mountain stages?? In particular the queen stage in the alps with the double ascent of the Stelvio pass will put his climbing legs to the test!!
No doubt in the lead up to May my predictions will change, but we’d love to hear from you! Who do you think will end up on the podium in Milan?
Riders confirmed to race Giro 2017:-
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) – Italy
Fabio Aru (Astana) – Italy
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) – Columbia
Adam & Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) – Britain
Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) – Netherlands
Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) – Netherlands
Mikel Landa (Sky) – Spain
Thibault Pinot (FDJ) – France
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) – Netherlands
Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) – Poland
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) – Russia