The Giro d'Italia. One of the three main events of the year along side the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana. With a collection of general classification riders racing in this years event, who are the favorites?
Cadel Evans: The Aussie. He's 37 years young so it's truly remarkable to see a man of his age racing for the win at the grand tours. Third in this event last year; he plans to build on it this year. A few weeks prior the start, he won the Giro del Trentino after winning stage 3 and the TTT on stage 1.
Evans has always been dobbed a versatile rider which came the for after he won the 2011 Tour de France in remarkable style. The question is, will we see the heroics of the Galibier Chase in this year's edition? The man can time trial and climb but lately he has faded in the final week of grand tours which can be understood.
A fantastic racer means he can keep with the classic type guys on the steep hills and with the pure climbers on the long mountain passes. The giro suits him this year but will his age be the real hold back? Expect to see him in that pink jersey.
Joaquin Rodriguez: At 35 years old, the Spaniard is one of the oldest contenders here along side Evans. With 3 grand tour podiums in the last 2 years in each of the three week marathons, he has to be one of the picks. Talented, experienced and a true racer.
Earlier this year he succeeded in winning the Volta a Catalunya after winning stage 3 ahead of riders such as Valverde, Froome and the inform Contador. Despite a poor classics season compared to years preceding, he heads into the Giro in fine form.
His strengths are the short steep finishes which often feature early on in grand tours which contrast his main weakness which is the time trial featuring in the last week of this year's edition. However, as in the Tour last year, Rodriguez really comes into his own in the last week of the race. With a heavy last seven days full of climbing in this years edition, could Rodriguez be the dark horse to snatch the Magila Rosa at the end?
Nairo Quintana: Four years ago this boy had just won the under twenty three's Tour de France equivilent: the Tour de l'Avenir. Now, after taking an extraordinary second in the Tour de France last year has his sights set on the Maglia Rosa.
Despite trailing Rodriguez in the Volta a Catalunya finishing 5th, he won the Tour de San Luis in January and performed outstandingly at Tirreno Adriatico taking second behind Contador (who looks set ahead of the Tour) and taking the young riders classification in the process. At only 24 years old he's the youngest of the contenders but disputably one of the best climbers in the world.
Like Rodriguez, the Colombian's weakness in the time trial but his climbing can more than make up for the time he looses as he demonstrated in the Tour de France last year. Don't be surprised to see him attack as soon as the race hits the mountains on stage 8.
Rigoberto Uran: Another Colombian talent arrived in Belfast this year. Uran is 27 and many say he is nowhere near his best after the limitations of the sky team. He came second in this event last year to the incomparable Nibali and has shown signs of form earlier this year.
Third in the Tour of Oman behind Froome and Van Garderen showed the boy could climb at his new Omega Pharma Quick Step team and with the support of one of the most organised teams, this year's Giro favors him. Like Quintana, his strengths are pure climbing but he has also mastered the art of the time trial as he demonstrated at Sky a number of times. An outside favorite maybe, but a favorite nonetheless.
For me, this years Giro will be defined in the last week. No body can win the race in the first week but you can certainly loose it. Don't rule out a Colombian alliance if both Uran and Quintana need time and, as a result, my pick is Uran to take the title. I feel the years may get the better of Rodriguez and Evans while the time trial may restrict Quintana.
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