GIRO’22 Preview: Percorso & Protaganisti – Who Will Win?

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2022 Giro d’Italia Preview: The 105th Giro d’Italia starts in Budapest on Friday and finishes three weeks later in Verona. Ed Hood takes up over the 3,410 kilometres and through the history of the Italian Grand Tour and gives us his ‘protaganisti’ for the win.

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The Classics are behind us with ‘warm up,’ stage races, Romandie and Asturias just concluded as I write this – it must be time for the first of the three week stage races?

This is the 2022 Giro d’Italia

Let the Grand Tours commence.
And the perennial question; Giro or Tour as the best Grand Tour on the planet? As my amigo Dave would tell you that they are both ‘special’ races but very different beasts and you can’t compare them.

The passage of the Mortirolo is usually a special day on the Giro d'Italia. This year the climb has been designated the 'Prima Michele Scarponi' in memory of the recently departed rider. 2008 was a crazy year fro the mortirolo, as Contador followed Ricco through the tifosi. But it was in 2010 where Scarponi escaped with Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali to take the stage honors. Pic:CorVos/PezCyclingNews.
You can’t beat the ‘Tifosi’

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However, a couple of points I might make:

  • Many of the staff on the Tour take their holidays to work on the Tour as volunteers and the ‘power’ goes to some of their heads; ‘janitorial’ is the word my buddy Stevie uses – the Pink Race is much more ‘simpatico’ to work on.
  • Many of the spectators at the Tour are not French people but a cosmopolitan mix on their summer holidays; that’s not the case at the Giro – the ‘Tifosi’ are all Italian, knowledgeable and passionate, giving the race a special vibe.
  • For me, the Gazzetta dello Sport gives a harder edged reporting take on the race than l’Equipe does – and those pink pages are SO evocative.
  • It’s hard to get a bad coffee in Italy, as a wise man once said; ‘you go into a little gas station and get the best cappuccino of your life.’ In the interests of Anglo-Gallic relations we’ll make no comment on French coffee.
  • France is beautiful but the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, those vineyards, active volcanoes. . .

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Not in France

The History:
Let me bore you with some stats first. . .
‘Recordmen; on five wins are all – naturally – Campionissimo. But Fausto Coppi is top with two second places to add to his five wins, whilst Alfredo Binda had one second spot in addition to his five wins, Eddy Merckx finished five Giri and won five [let’s not mention the 1969 one he had ‘stolen.’].

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Fausto Coppi on that new gravel stuff

The most days in pink belongs to Merckx on a stunning 78 maglia rosas in total. Despite Merckx’s intrusion the race is very much Italian dominated with 68 home winners from the 104 editions thus far. Belgium is a distant second on seven wins, five thanks to Merckx with Johan De Muynck’s 1978 win remarkably the last Grand Tour to fall to a Belgian rider – and that won’t change in this race.

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Mario Cipollini with 42 stage wins

The most starts, 18 with 16 finishes between 1967 and 1985 belongs to the late Wladimiro Panizza. The record for stage wins is held by ‘Super’ Mario Cipollini on 42, one ahead of Campionissimo Binda’s score. The average speed for the fastest ever road stage came in 2020, Stage Seven was won by Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) at 51.234km/h.

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Arnaud Démare at 51.234km/h

For a time test, Belgian, Rik Verbrugghe in 2001 won the 7.6 kilometre prologue time trial at a staggering 58.874 km/h. The longest stage of all time was Lucca-Rome in 1914 at 430.3 kilometres; Girardengo won in 17 hours and 29 minutes. The youngest winner was Coppi at 20 years-of-age – he was also third oldest winner at 33 years-of-age – the oldest was three time winner, Fiorenzo Magni at 34 years-of-age. Is that enough stats?

Costante Girardengo
430 kilometre stage for Constante Giradengo

The Route:
The 21 stage percorso takes in 3,400 plus kilometres and 50,000 metres plus of climbing, it’s never a race for those who can’t climb and this one is no exception – Etna, Blockhaus, Marmolada to name but three horrors for those who are big of bone.

Over 3,000 km of Giro d’Italia | 2022 Giro d’Italia Route Presentation

There are three stages in Hungary to kick things off:
Stage One:
Is for the ‘puncheurs’ with a finish almost certainly too tough for the sprinters – but if Caleb is on a great day . . . It looks like it should have been one for Ulissi – but not if MVDP has anything to do with it.

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Hungary stages

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Stage 1

Stage Two: Continues the trend for much shorter time trials in Grand Tours – remember the 1987 Tour de France with an 87 kilometre chrono? – there are just 9.2 kilometres in Budapest, albeit with a dragging conclusion; one for the specialists with a new face smiling in pink on the podium.

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Stage 2

Stage Three: Caleb – but with MVDP, Cav [and MM], Gaviria, Girmay, Nizzolo and Démare to contend with the sprint stages are to be look forward to.

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Stage 3 – One for Ewan?

Rest Day number one allows the circus to travel way south to Sicilia.

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The Giro in Sicily again

Stage Four: Sees the first mountain top finish on Etna, you’ll get no puns from me about the race erupting on this stage. . . A breakaway is most likely but it’s the first major GC test and it might just end in a shoot-out with, ‘The Bigs.’

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Stage 4 to Etna

Stage Five: Has a big climb in the middle for the break to go on but perhaps enough time for the ‘velocisti’ teams to drag it back for a mad charge?

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Stage 5

Stage Six: Back on the mainland and almost certainly destined to end in a mad, mass dash for the line.

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Will Cavendish hang on over the early climb of stage 6

Stage Seven: Is a ‘saw tooth’ and screams, ‘breakaway!’ It’ll be deserving winner on this day.

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A tough stage 7

Stage Eight: Is ‘bumpy’ but just about manageable for the sprinters who can suffer over the lumps, they won’t all make it – but Caleb will.

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Stage 8

Stage Nine: And the sprinters will tear this page from the road book and bin it, they don’t want to see that profile. . . A hard, hard stage, the break will go but the GC death race on Blockhaus could see one of the favourites take this stage.

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Stage 9

Rest Day two.

Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin was taking it easy on the Giro d'Italia's third rest day. He will need it with a very hard week coming up before the final time trial in Milan on Sunday. Pic:CorVos/PezCyclingNews.
Who will be in pink on the second rest day?

Stage 10: Is lumpy at the end but the sprint teams all want it so bad it’s most likely for the fast twitchers.

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Stage 11: Is pan flat and for the fast men – it’s gonna be a long day, fruitless for the breakaway before the inevitable late, ‘catch.’

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They don’t come much flatter than stage 11

Stage 12: Has three climbs but a downhill finish, breakaway? Reduced bunch sprint? It should be a good stage to watch.

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A day for the break?

Stage 13: Out of lovely Sanremo could also go either way, a break or sprint from a reduced bunch?

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Stage 13 – Another for a break

Stage 14: Is for the break and most likely, ‘The Bigs’ will leave them to it with what the last week holds. . .

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Stage 14

Stage 15: Three big climbs to end the day – there’ll be a break but as with Stage Nine a GC battle on the final climb could doom their chances.

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Stage 15

Rest day number three.

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Rest day with the family?

Stage 16: The Mighty Mortirolo at half distance then two more climbs before the downhill finish brand this as a breakaway day.

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The Mortirolo on stage 16

Stage 17: ‘Gruppetto!’ the first eight K go straight up and the break will go early – but with two big climbs in the last 45K it looks like a GC day.

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Stage 17

Stage 18: Looses altitude all day and is made for ‘last man standing’ sprinters who survived the struggles with Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery.

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Stage 18 – Sprinters day

Stage 19: is for the breakaway.

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The last day for the brave

Stage 20: The Demonic Dolomites with the Marmolada as main dish, our starter is the San Pellegrino, the Pordoi as first course and Cima Coppi, highest point in the race. It’s hard to see the break survive with ‘The Bigs’ fighting to the death and others trying to crack the top six/10/20 placings on GC.

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Last chance for the climbers before the TT

Stage 21: If it’s close then the better ‘tester’ could just about wrest the nicest leader’s jersey in pro cycling from it’s incumbent over an up then down 17K iTT around Verona – but the race will probably be won by now. . .

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Who will be in pink in Verona

Giro d’Italia 2022 stages:
Stage 1: Budapest – Visegrád 195km flat
Stage 2: Budapest – Budapest 9.2km ITT
Stage 3: Kaposvár – Balatonfüred 201km flat
Rest day
Stage 4: Avola – Etna 170Km mountain
Stage 5: Catania – Messina 174km flat
Stage 6: Palmi – Scalea 192Km flat
Stage 7: Diamante – Potenza 196Km hilly
Stage 8: Naples – Naples 153km hilly
Stage 9: Isernia – Blockhaus 189km mountains
Rest day
Stage 10: Pescara – Jesi 196km hilly
Stage 11: Santarcangelo di Romagna – Reggio Emilia 203km flat
Stage 12: Parma – Genoa 202km hilly
Stage 13: San Remo – Cuneo 150km flat
Stage 14: Santena – Turin 147km hilly
Stage 15: Rivarolo Canavese – Cogne 178km mountains
Rest day
Stage 16: Salò – Aprica 202km mountains
Stage 17: SPonte di Legno – Lavarone 168km mountains
Stage 18: Borgo Valsugana – Treviso 151km flat
Stage 19: Marano Lagunare – Castelmonte 177km hilly
Stage 20: Belluno – Passo Fedaia/Marmolada 167km mountains
Stage 21: Verona – Verona 17.4km ITT.

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2022 Giro d’Italia route

The Riders:
Let’s talk protaganisti,’ on the start sheet are 11 men who have finished on the podium of this race in the past, a dozen if we include two wins for a certain elasmobranch fish – that’s shark, Dude. Can any of them repeat or improve?

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Sadly no Egan Bernal due to his TT training crash – Next year

We’ll start with those who made the lowest step on the podium:
Thomas De Gendt [Lotto Soudal & Belgium] 3e 2012, the big Diesel is 35 years-of-age now and his Grand Tour podium days are behind him but he’ll still be, ‘going up the road’ albeit it’s hard to see him winning a stage. . .

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De Gendt will be in a Giro break… for sure

Wilco Kelderman [BORA-hansgrohe & Netherlands] 3e 2020, he was fifth in his last Grand Tour, in France just last year, a podium is possible then but. . .

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Kelderman knows how to wear pink

Miguel Ángel López [Astana Qazaqstan & Colombia] 3e 2018, ‘Sooper Maan’ is much more likely to be successful going after stage wins in the high peaks than chasing a podium.

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López back home with Astana

Mikel Landa [Bahrain Victorious & Spain] 3e 2015, see ‘Sooper Maan’ above.

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Landa? Hit and miss

Alejandro Valverde [Movistar & Spain] 3e 2016, at 42 years-of-age the really big peaks will see him off; but a stage win on a tough, lumpy day is well within his capabilities, witness 2e in Strade Bianche and the Flèche and 7e at Liège – remarkable.

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The ‘old man’ of the peloton – What will Valverde do?

Simon Yates [BikeExchange-Jayco & GB] 3e 2021, two stage wins in Asturias, a stage win and 2e on GC in Paris-Nice confirm the man has form; but can he hang tough for 24 days? Stage wins – yes, a podium, perhaps?

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Simon Yates looked good on two stages of the Tour de Romandie last week

How about those who were one step higher?
Esteban Chaves [EF Education-EasyPost & Colombia] 2e 2016, there’ll be no repeat of that ride for the ever-smiling Colombian.

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Chaves – Happy, but successful?

Jai Hindley [BORA-hansgrohe & Australia] 2e in 2020, in what was a very unusual Giro, won by Tao Geoghegan Hart; the Aussie didn’t finish the race last year and another podium seems unlikely.

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Jai Hindley lost out in the final TT in 2020

And we have three previous winners on the start line:
Vincenzo Nibali [Astana Qazaqstan & Italy] winner in 2013 and 2016, even sharks lose their teeth, if we were his DS we’d be telling him to lose plenty of time early then pick his stage. . .

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Can the old shark reawaken his past?

Tom Dumoulin [Jumbo-Visma & Netherlands] winner in 2017, if a week is a long time in politics, five years in the WorldTour is as good as a light year. A podium is very hard to envisage especially with a paucity of chrono kilometres and all those mountains.

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Tom Dumoulin – Unpredictable

Richard Carapaz [INEOS Grenadiers & Ecuador] winner in 2019, the Olympic Champion was very sharp in Catalunya and is backed by a hugely strong team. It’s hard to see past him.

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Ed’s choice – Richard Carapaz

Who else is there?
João Almeida [UAE Team Emirates & Portugal] he was fourth in 2020 after spending 15 days in pink when with Quick-Step, not a team constructed to defend Grand Tour leadership. He has a strong team behind him and there’s no Bernal or pesky Team Slovenia – the podium beckons.

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João Almeida – UAE’s GC man

Roman Bardet [Team DSM & France] a podium isn’t too hard to envisage as are stage win(s) and at least a top 10 finish in Torino.

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Roman Bardet was in form before Liège

One name? Carapaz.

# Stay PEZ for the ‘Stage Race Reports’ and the ‘Rest Day Rants’. And remember; ‘All the world is PINK,’ have a good Giro. #

Giro d’Italia 2022 | Official Video Promo

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