Arek Peryt looks ahead at what might be in store at this year’s Giro d’Italia
As spring draws to a close, so too does the first part of the 2015 road cycling season. The records of the spring one-day classic races -Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Tour de Flanders or Paris Roubaix- are busily filed in the annals of the sport, already gathering the dust of obscurity while public attention drifts toward the Grand Tours.
All the big guns took part in smaller races like the Romandie and Turkey Tours this week, checking their form against each other and making final adjustments ahead of the main goals of the season. The first of these will be the Giro d’Italia, starting on May 9, unfortunately without Team Colombia and last year’s winner Nairo Quintana. Team Colombia didn’t receive an invitation for this year’s Giro and Colombia’s finest, Nairo, is completely focused on winning The Tour de France – the Giro doesn’t fit in his preparation.
As the Giro comes closer, the question on the minds of most cycling fans is one and the same: can he pull it off? The ‘he’ being referred to is of course Alberto Contador, who is going for the double. He is aiming to take home the gold in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. This is a feat unheard of since the times of Pantani, the charismatic Italian with a cycling style which was adored but a career dogged by doping allegations, in the late 90s.
There’s a reason no one has managed the feat since then. It’s a huge gamble, as the three week-long race, infamous for its horrid weather conditions, brutal climbs and nightmare-ish post-stage logistics is far from the ideal preparation for the Tour de France. However, if anyone can pull it off, it is Contador, undoubtedly the best stage racer since Miguel Indurain and, to a lesser extent, Lance Armstrong. But as Contador tries to achieve the impossible, how tough will his competitors be?
Richie Porte is the first one to watch. He’s had a superb build-up this spring, winning races left, right and centre. Great climbing skills, excellent time-trialling and the support of a strong team make him a worthy adversary for the Spanish ruler.
Colombian Rigoberto Urán, runner-up for two consecutive years, will also be trying to step up and take home the elusive Giro crown. He is sure to be pleased with the long, testing time-trial halfway through the race, which will put him squarely in his comfort zone before the decisive mountain stages in the final week.
Aru, Konig, Pozzovivo, Paterski and van der Broeck should also be in the mix and let’s not forget our Colombian escarabajos Dayer Quintana (Nairo Quintana’s brother), Esteban Chaves, Sebastian Henao and ‘looking-for-form’ Betancur. And there you have it, all the ingredients for what’s sure to be a thrilling ride. Let’s take a leaf out of the Italians’ book and enjoy “La dolce vita”: three weeks of cycling at its best.
By Arek Peryt