We take a look at what each day of the Giro will hold – and which days Colombian athletes might perform strongly…
Stage 8: Saturday May 17,Foligno – Montecopiolo,
The 20km Hors-category (top level) haul to Cipo di Carpegna and the 4 km climb to the finish, will shake some apples from the tree among the favourites. The final climb is made for the likes of Uran, Quintana, Arredondo and Duarte. Because it is really early in the Giro no big cracks should appear overall, but we might see some favourites sinking into the mire here. The climb is great for a decent climber like Arredondo but he needs to be ahead of the peloton in the valley to have a serious chance. It is a great opportunity for Quintana and Uran to steal some seconds off their contenders.
Stage 9: Sunday May 18, Lugo – Sestola,
This will be a quick stage in which everyone but the favourites and their teams will want to make it into the break, climbers from the still empty-handed teams will have a decent shot at glory. After a 110KM flat warm-up, the last 60 KM will be a long climb to the finish. I see Chalapud, Pantano, Henao, Arredondo and Duarte as serious contenders to be in this break, however Duarte and Arredondo will only be let go if they are some minutes off the lead in the general classification. It is not steep enough for pure climbers like Quintana and Uran to make a difference to their contenders so they will save their legs for later on.
Monday May 19: Rest day
Stage 10: Tuesday May 20, Modela – Salsomaggiore,
This completely flat stage will be used for the teams to draw breath before the next mountain range coming up. The Colombian Pro cycling adventurers Rubiano and Quintero that feel good might go on a hopeless break, but there is no chance the sprinters will let this opportunity go. If sprinter Avila survived the mountains without problems he might have a shot for the podium here as the mountains and the rest day can have a devastating effect on the pure sprinters, and many will have dropped out.
Stage 11: Wednesday May 21, Collechio – Savona,
The longest stage of this edition of the Giro D’italia is a typical one for chancers. It is the stage that is most likely won by someone on the early break. None of the favourites for the general classification will expend much energy because the important time trial is coming up. An adventurer who can get over the difficult 2nd category climb near the finish and has a good finish in his legs has a shot here. Team Colombia can’t miss this opportunity and Rubiano, Chalapud or Quintero will try to get in this break. For Anacona it all depends on whether his captains are still in the running, if they are far off in the general classification he might be in this one as he gets over those smaller mountains really well. However, as main domestique, Winner will never get permission to go on a break if his captains are still close to the top spots.
Stage 12: Thursday May 22, Barbaresco – Barolo,
41,9 KM: individual time trial
None of the Colombians are particular specialists in this discipline, for Uran, Quintana and Duarte, who might have general classification aspiration it will come down to limiting the time loss to their opponents. The little hill in the middle is not steep enough to really be an issue here, so cyclists like Quintana and Uran can easily lose two minutes to the specialist Evans, among others.
Stage 13: Friday May 23, Fossano – Rivarlo Canavese,
A fairly easy stage map predicts a chance for the sprinters. Though, at this point of the Giro fatigue and mental state will play a huge role. The cyclists that still have the right morale and stamina will go on a break, when one sprinter is dominating the Giro it boosts the chances for the break to make it to the finish as his contenders might not bother to help get the break back. On the other hand, if three or four sprinters are on very close level, they will definitely create the perfect scenario to finish with a sprint. For Colombia I see Duque as the main contender, he is not as strong as Avila in sprint but he has years of experience under his belt that will get him over the mountains and bring him closer to the rest.
Stage 14: Saturday May 24, Aglié – Oropa,
This is ideal for a long break from climbers far from the top spots in the general classification. Arredondo, maybe Duarte, Torres or Henao might give it a go and if strong enough, have a shot on staying out of the peloton. The Belmonte in the middle will not be decisive for the favourites as the downhill after makes it difficult to escape without wasting a lot of energy. Going to the finish on the smaller Oropa in the end, will see fireworks from the favourites. If Uran and Quintana are still in the running after the first mountain range and time trial, this is a perfect moment to take some seconds off their contenders.
Stage 15: Sunday May 25, Valdengo – Montecampeone,
In former Italian superstar and drug cheat cyclist Pantani’s homage stage, Quintana needs to strike. A 200KM warm up to the monstrous Montecampione that brings to mind Pantani’s epic battle with Tonkov to get the win in 1998 will be filled with nerves among the favourites. The final 25 KM to the top is a torturous slog up the mountain with absurd ramps of double-figure gradients. I call Quintana for this because he is built for this work, a long straggly climb where he can go it alone. Favourites will fail here, and we could well see someone throw their chances away.
Monday May 26: Rest day
Stage 16: Tuesday May 27, Ponte di Legno – Valmartello,
This nasty little stage hosts the mythical climbs up to the Stelvio and the Gavia, horrible mountains with epic histories in cycling. Neither of the two is the finish for the stage as the Val Martello is the final climb. Depending on the differences at the top of the general classification we will see either a day in which the favourites will go from the start to make a difference, or a relatively calm journey up to Val Martello where the battle will start in earnest. Here we will see favourites that feel all their pains now after the rest day, lose the war. From the Colombians, only Quintana and Uran, with Duarte as an underdog, should be able to compete here. Arredondo will likely start feeling the strain of his earlier efforts as he has little experience in the multiple week tours.
Stage 17: Wednesday May 28, Sarnonico – Vittorio Veneto,
A fairly flat stage that the sprinters who came over the mountain will use as one of their last opportunities to get stage success. I don’t see that either Duque or Avila will be arriving here with fresh legs. There is a chance for a break that lasts until the finish but unless Romero, Chalapud or Rubiano have got a second wind, I don’t see Colombian hopes in this stage.
Stage 18: Thursday May 29Belluno – Rif. Panarotta,
If a climber like Henao or Arredondo still has some breath left they stand a chance of finishing first on the Rif Panarotta. Anacona has a decent shot at this stage if he is without compromises to his captains. He is from the 2nd class of climbers that are made for the stages the top cannot be too bothered about. The general classification contenders will spare their legs for the very heavy and deciding stages coming up – so no big differences will be made.
Stage 19: Friday May 30Bassano del Grappa – Cima Grappa,
26,8 KM: individual time trial
The Grappa is an almost 20KM long climb and everyone is completely on their own. A stage better built for Uran than Quintana, but everyone on form can put in a showing here. The stage is not too steep, but long and seemingly endless, which is to Uran’s advantage. Only the Giro favourites at that moment will finish in the top 10.
Stage 20: Saturday May 31Maniago – Monte Zoncolan,
This will also be a stage where the favourites will shine. I even go so far that the most likely winner of this stage is the cyclist that will win the Giro. Here tiredness will take a toll and the 3 mountains in the final 80KM will sort the wheat from the chaff. For Uran and Quintana, it’s ideal to get an ultimate boost to the top spots.
Stage 21: Sunday June 1Gemona – Trieste,
The Giro will already have been decided by now. Champagne will be drunk by the winner en route, and the only question during this flat stage will be who of the sprinters is the fittest. The 8 local rounds (7.2 KM) in Trieste will be the warm up for the grand finale in which a sprint is almost inevitable. If Duque and Avila are fresh enough, they might have a go at it although their level is probably not high enough for a podium. If a cyclist like Rubiano is fit enough he will try to get in an last-gasp break. But because none of the sprinters want to let this last opportunity go it is not very likely.
By Freek Huigen