Welcome to the second post of Israel Cycling Academy Giro Watch! In this post, I’m taking a look at the first week of the Giro d’Italia, which gets underway on Saturday, May 11 with a short time trial in Bologna.
For each stage, I’ll include a prediction for how it will unfold, and what ICA’s tactics might be in order to achieve its three goals: winning a stage, being aggressive, getting Guy Niv to Verona.
Stage 1 (May 11): Bologna > San Luca (ITT) ***
Stage 1 is a short time trial around Bologna that starts off flat and ends with a steep 2km climb. The time trial will establish an initial pecking order for the GC battle, with strong riders like Dumoulin and Roglič expected to shine.
Tactics: ICA isn’t bringing a world-class time trialist to the Giro and will not expect to make big waves. In fact, ICA riders won’t mind losing time as that will allow them to get a bigger leash on breakaways.
Stage 2 (May 12): Bologna > Fucecchio ***
Stage 2, the first road stage, will likely finish in a nervous bunch sprint despite the hills within 50km of the finish. Many of the world’s fastest sprinters are competing this year, including Viviani, Gaviria, Démare, Ackermann, and Ewan. Expect their teams to control the pacesetting.
Tactics: This is a stage that suits Cimolai, so ICA hopes he and his leadout men (Boivin, Sbaragli, and Dunne) get over the climbs safely. ICA may also try to get into the breakaway to fight for the KOM jersey, like Boivin tried last year. Hopefully, they can avoid any crashes.
Stage 3 (May 13): Vinci > Orbetello **
Overview: The third stage presents another opportunity for the sprinters. However, echelons might form near the end of the stage, keeping the GC contenders on their toes.
Tactics: ICA will likely work to get Cimolai in good position for the spring again. If anyone is in the fight for the KOM jersey after stage 2, they may try to go up the road once again in the breakaway in the hopes of securing it.
Stage 4 (May 14): Orbetello > Frascati **
The first road stage not expected to come down to a bunch sprint, stage 4 ends with a punchy climb to Frascati. The finish could suit a breakaway rider like De Gendt, a punchy climber like Ulissi, or a sprinter with an uphill kick like Ewan.
Tactics: ICA has several legitimate options for this stage, especially Neilands and Plaza. They could also send someone like Gebremedhin or Boivin up the road with an eye towards fighting for the win if a break stays away.
Stage 5 (May 15): Frascati > Terracina *
Stage 5 will put the sprinters back in the spotlight with a completely flat run-in to the line. Expect the teams backing their sprinters to have a fierce fight for positioning during the latter part of the stage.
Tactics: Cimolai will likely to target this stage as well, though ICA may choose to mix things up and let Sbaragli or Boivin have a go instead if he is on bad legs. Cimolai’s form might also determine whether someone is sent up the road in a breakaway.
Stage 6 (May 16): Cassino > San Giovanni Rotondo ***
The finale of Stage 6 in another punchy one, with the top of Coppa Casarinelle climb coming less than 20km to the finish. This makes it a potential day for a breakaway to succeed, or it may come down to a slightly uphill finish for the punchier sprinters.
Tactics: This stage could end in several ways, but ICA will definitely want to put a rider into the breakaway in case it stays away. Also keep an eye out on Guy Niv’s finishing time to see where his legs are at.
Stage 7 (May 17): Vasto > L’Aquila **
Yet another stage for the punchy riders, stage 7 could also end in a breakaway win. However, some GC contenders may wish to grab bonus seconds and put some time into their rivals on the small but steep kick to the finish.
Tactics: ICA again has several options for the finish, that will mostly come down to how the day pans out. There will be opportunities for ICA to be aggressive with several launchpads where an attack could prove decisive.