Preview: 2016 Giro d'Italia
From riders contending for jerseys to the most critical stages of this year’s race, use this guide to help you follow the action as the race unfolds.
Race Overview1 of 10
The 2016 Giro d'Italia will consist of 21 stages and will begin outside of Italy for only the 12th time in the race's history. Below are some of the most notable highlights of the 3,463-kilometer course.
— The race will begin May 6 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands and end May 29 in Turin, Italy.
— The race's three time-trial stages on May 6, 15, and 22 will play a big part in deciding the winner of the general classification.
Race Overview (Cont'd)2 of 10
— The route includes seven flat stages, which should set up dramatic sprint finishes.
— Seven intermediate climbing stages without hilltop finishes offer a good opportunity for breakaway artists to snatch a victory.
— Aside from the three time trials, the four mountaintop finishes are where the true contenders will gain separation.
The Jerseys3 of 10
The battle for most jerseys will likely come down to the final week of racing. Below are the jerseys up for grabs.
— Pink jersey: The rider with the lowest overall aggregate time dons the maglia rosa. It is a symbol of the overall leader for the race and pays tribute to Gazzetta dello Sport, an Italian newspaper with pink pages that founded the race in 1909.
— Blue jersey: AKA, King of the Mountains. The rider who's collected the most points atop each of the race's categorized climbs wears the maglia azzurra. Riders reaching the top of the hardest Hors Categorie (beyond category) climbs receive the most points, while cyclists who reach lower-category climbs first receive fewer points.
The Jerseys (cont'd)4 of 10
— Red jersey: The sprinter who collects the most points at intermediate sprints throughout the stage and at stage finishes wears the maglia rosso. The point scale used in the Giro is slightly different from that of the Tour de France due to riders accumulating points at the finish for all stages—even mountain stages not contested by sprinters.
— White jersey: The young riders jersey, the rider under the age of 26 with the lowest overall aggregate time receives the honor of wearing the maglia bianca. If the rider qualifying for the white jersey is also the overall race leader (maglia rosa), the next highest placed qualifying rider will wear the jersey.
Important Stages5 of 10
With two time trials and a tough day on stage 10, you can expect plenty of excitement in the first two weeks of the race. But the real action this year comes during week three, with several stages likely to decide the winner of the general classification.
Here are few of the must watch stages:
— Stage 14: Any time the race heads up into the Dolomites, you can expect a big shakeup. Featuring six climbs, including the 9-percent grade Passo Giau and the 11.5km-long Passo Valparola near the finish, this stage is sure to be the first of several grueling days in the mountains.
— Stage 15: On the heels of stage 14, this 10.8km time trial up to the top of Alpi di Siusi ski station will undoubtedly test the top contenders. The opening 2km are relatively flat, but the roads rise an average of 8 percent the rest of the way.
Important Stages (cont'd)6 of 10
Colle della Lombarda
— Stage 19: Crossing the border into France, this mountain stage finishes in Risoul after cresting the Colle dell'Agnello— a 16km climb that reaches the highest elevation of this year's Giro.
— Stage 20: Following the difficult stage 19, this penultimate stage is also this year's queen stage.. Although just 134km, there are three major climbs along the course, giving riders little chance to recover before the climbing begins again. The Colle della Lombarda isn't one of the iconic climbs for cycling historians, but it is plenty daunting at an average gradient of 7 percent for 21.2km.
Riders to Watch7 of 10
While you can always expect a few outsiders to get into the mix, here are several of the top names to watch for each jersey battle:
— Maglia rosa: The pink jersey looks to have three front runners, led by 2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali of Team Astana. Mikel Landa of Team Sky and Alejandro Valverde of Movistar figure to give him plenty of competition, with the latter riding the Giro for the first time in his illustrious career. If you're looking for an outsider to get into the mix, Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin and 2012 Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal of Trek-Segafredo could easily shake things up.
Riders to Watch (cont'd)8 of 10
— Maglia azzurra: While several of the top contenders for the maglia rosa will likely factor into things here as well, two other names to watch are Rafal Majka of Tinkoff and Rioberto Uran of Cannondale. Majka won the climber's jersey in the Tour de France in 2014.
— Maglia rosso: While Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish are skipping this year's Giro in favor of the Tour of California, the race is still loaded with sprinters. Marcel Kittel of Etixx-QuickStep, Andre Greipel of Lotto Soudal and Caleb Ewan of Orica-GreenEdge are just a few of the names you should expect to see cross the line with their arms raised.
Fabian Cancellara's Final Grand Tour9 of 10
This will also be the 20th and final grand tour for Fabian Cancellara. He has never before finished the Giro d'Italia, but fans know him for his multiple Tour de France stage wins and his plethora of Classics victories.