THE second of the three big European Grand Tour bike races is underway with a record number of Australian riders. Cycling expert JOHN TREVORROW, himself a former Giro participant, assesses their chances:
THE Giro d’Italia, got under way on Saturday with a 15 km individual time trial in Polermo Sicily.
The predominantly downhill course was super fast and Italian rookie Filippo Ganna dominated with an average speed of just a touch under 60 kph.
Young Aussie Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ) was the only Australian in the top 10 finishing 9th at
Rohan Dennis finished a disappointing 15th at 48 seconds.
The Tour de France is the most important event on the cycling calendar. It is the most prestigious and the biggest annual sporting event in the world. But the Giro is the race the riders truly love. It has a romance about it that you can actually feel.
The Italian fans called the Tifossi, are very passionate and although the crowds may not be quite as big as the Tour they are even more involved. Whereas the TdF attracts sports fans who want to witness an amazing event, the Giro attracts bike fans who just love bike racing.
We talked about how tough the Tour was this year – well the Giro is every bit as brutal. The final week of this three week event delivers four monster mountain stages, a 253 km flat stage and a final time trial in Milan.
I reckon there are three stand out favourites for this year’s Giro overall.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton Scott) who will be out to erase the nightmare of two years ago where he dominated the Giro only to crack in the final mountain stage. He impressed in the first stage and his recent overall victory in Tirreno Adriatico shows he’s right on track.
Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers) TdF winner in 2018 and runner up last year. He’s still smarting from being left out of the Tour squad this year and is fired up. Finished a close second to Yates in Tirreno Adriatico.
Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk as a genuine contender. He looked to have the Giro sown up in 2016 but crashed out. Injury saw him miss the recent TdF but he’s here with good form.
I did have Colombian super climber Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) in the mix but he crashed out in spectacular fashion in stage one.
Recently we were lamenting the fact that only two Aussies started the TdF and here we have a record 18 Australians in the Giro. Only the host country Italy have more.
Australian team Mitchelton Scott has five Australians in the line up to support Yates.
Lucas Hamilton – a 24 year old from Ararat riding his second Giro. A very solid climber and important support for Yates in thr high mountains. His stage win in the recent Tirreno Adriatico show he is in fine form.
Jack Haig – 27 year old from Bendigo. Will also be a major support rider for Simon Yates in the mountains – His second Giro riding his final Grand Tour for MS as he moves on to Bahrain McLaren next year.
Michael Hepburn – 29 year old Queenslander is an experienced Grand Tour rider with two Tours de France and his fifth. He will be vital in the long flat stages and the cross winds.
Cameron Meyer – 32 year old from WA is the current National Road Champion. He is also a multiple world Track champion and has ridden all three grand Tours and this is his fifth Giro. Although handy on the smaller climbs his main role will be keeping Simon near the front on the long flat stages. May get some opportunities later in the race.
Damien Howson – 28 year old from Adelaide. Experienced in all three grand Tours and second Giro. A talented climber who won the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in 2017
I thought Team Sunweb from Germany were the most exciting squad at the recent Tour de France and they have three Australians here.Embed from Getty Images
Michael Matthews – 30 year old from Canberra who is in great form this year. Recent 7th in World Title was excellent. This is his third Giro and he won a great stage beating Cadel Evans up a climb while wearing the Pink leaders jersey in 2015 with Greenedge. He will be out to win the points jersey to replicate his brilliant effort to take it in Tour de France in 2017 and the battle with Peter Sagan will be worth watching.
Christopher Hamilton – 25 year old from Bendigo has already ridden one Vuelta and this is his third Giro. A hand climber and a bit of an all-rounder – looking to prove his ability
Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb – 24 WA Vuelta and second Giro – Similar medium mountain stages
American team EF Pro Cycling has had to change from their usual pink because of a clash with the leaders jersey. And they’re way out new design is a talking point. They also have three Australians in the roster.
Simon Clarke – 34 year old experienced Victorian is the road captain of the team. His third Giro and like a fine wine has matured with age. Will feature in some stages for sure.
James Whelan – 24 from NSW riding his first Grand Tour. A good climber, he was a former top middle distance runner that impressed immediately he swapped from spikes to cleats.
Lachlan Morton – Rode the Vuelta in 2017 then dropped out of World Tour. Came back last year with some impressive ultra distance challenge rides and high level gravel racing.
South African team NTT Pro Cycling have just announced they will not be continuing next year. They have two Australians on the squad who will be keen to impress other squads.
Dylan Sunderland – 24 year old from Inverell and nephew to former top pro Scott Sunderland. This is his first grand Tour and he will be hoping to impress as he will need to find a new home.
Ben O’Connor – 24 year old from WA riding his third Giro and last year rode both the Giro and Vuelta. Mountain stage winner Tour of Austria
Rohan Dennis was World Time Trial Champion in 2018 and 2019 and is an experienced grand tour rider. But his role here with Ineos Grenadiers will be too keep close to team leader Geraint Thomas on the flat stages especially in the sidewinds.
Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ) 26 his is his second Giro – former Australian Road Champion. His main role will be to help set up worker help French sprint star Arnaud Demare for stage victories.
Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal – 39 year old Queenslander. Has won stages in Giro and Vuelta and holds the record of riding 13 successive Grand Tours. But this could be his last as he plans to change sports next year and take on Ironman.
Nathan Haas (Cofidis) – 31 year old from Canberra. Experienced Grand Tour rider who has ridden all three and this is his fourth Giro. He will be important in the lead out train for Italian Elia Viviani who is desperate to turn around his form slump.
Chris Harper (Team Jumbo-Visma) – 25 year old from Adelaide riding his first Grand Tour – talented all-rounder who will be vital support for Steven Kruijswijk.