As all cycling fans will know, the 99th edition the Giro d’Italia is now powering through its final stages. 22 teams and 198 riders began on 6th May and, with the final rest day behind them, the remaining favourites must now battle some of the race’s toughest stages to win the coveted yellow jersey come 29th May.
This year is the third time in fifteen years that the Netherlands has been given the opportunity to host the ‘Grande Partenza’ (or big start for the English among us). Having begun in Apeldoorn, the following two stages of the Tour took in the flat Dutch landscape before moving to more familiar Italian soil. The race has passed through the Apennines, Friuli, and Dolomite mountain ranges, and will finish in the most daunting of Alpine ascents.
This year has also presented the Dutch with their best opportunity to take the nation’s first ever pink jersey. Early leader Tom Dumoulin, a Dutchman who wore the pink jersey for 6 of the first 7 stages, was forced to retire through saddle sores after the 11th stage. Having taken a shock victory in front of his home crowd in the opening stage, but faded from the 8th stage into an early retirement. This has left pre-race favourites Steven Kruijswijk (a fellow Netherlander) as the bookies favourite to take the general classification next week, trailed by Esteban Chaves and Vincenzo Nibali, himself a pre-race favourite who has struggled to keep up with the surging Kruikswijk.
As the first of the annual ‘Grand Tours’, the Giro is an opportunity for the world’s elite cyclists to take a major scalp and build momentum as the season kicks into gear. Two of the most brutal stages are yet to come, and in a race known for its unpredictability, it really is still anyone’s game.
Stay tuned, you know we will.
Photo credit - Graham WatsonMore stories