The riders to watch at the Giro 100: Maglia Rosa dreaming – part 1


With little more than a week before the Giro d’Italia’s Big Start in Sardinia, let’s profile a first group of potential GC contenders for the final victory at the Giro 100 contested from 5 to 28 May

Milan, 27 April 2017 – In this unique and historic edition of the Giro d’Italia there are plenty of riders with GC ambitions, but only one of these men will be able to wear the final Maglia Rosa in Milan, lifting the Trofeo Senza Fine. Over the next three days we will share their profiles and hear their impressions before the start.
The first challenge for the GC contenders will arrive soon: stage 4, from Cefalù to Etna, which will end with a 20km climb featuring an average gradient of 6% that will start in Nicolosi and end at the Rifugio Sapienza, 1,892 metres above sea level on Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. The next climb finish will be on stage 9, Montenero di Bisaccia to Blockhaus; its final13km will feature long sections of 9% inclines with peaks at 14%.
The first few stages of the Giro 100 will not decide the final winner but will give a clear indication on the form of all the contenders before the Sagrantino Stage ITT and the great mountains waiting for the Corsa Rosa.
A first group of GC contenders to watch out for at the Giro d’Italia are:

Mikel Landa (ESP – Team Sky). Since he came third at the 2015 Giro d’Italia, Mikel Landa has been touted as a potential Grand Tour winner. He was forced to pull out of last year’s Corsa Rosa due to sickness and rode the Tour de France as a domestique. This time around, he co-leads Team Sky with Geraint Thomas.
Mikel Landa said: “The Giro d’Italia is a special race. The people are so passionate and you can really feel their support. The fact that this year is the 100th Giro will make it even more special. The Giro is going to be a big challenge but I feel that I’m in good form and it’s a challenge I’m ready for. As always, it is a real climbers’ race and I think that will suit me. We have a strong squad and I’m really looking forward to returning to the Giro with Team Sky.”

Tom Dumoulin (NED – Team Sunweb). After spending six days leading last year’s Giro d’Italia before winning two major stages of the Tour de France while preparing for the Olympic time trial race (where he finished 2nd), the Dutchman has only one focus this time around: the overall classification of the Corsa Rosa. For the first time, Dumoulin trained at altitude in preparation.
Tom Dumoulin said: “The Giro d’Italia is a great race. Last year I had the honor of wearing the Maglia Rosa for a few stages, it was really special. It’s going to be an exciting race this year with the 100th anniversary edition but also for me personally, aiming for a GC result from the start of the Grand Tour for the first time. Me and my Team Sunweb team-mates are ready and want to perform at our best in Italy, and we’ll see what result we end with in Milano.”

Ilnur Zakarin (RUS – Team Katusha Alpecin). The Russian lay fifth overall in last year’s Giro d’Italia when he was forced to pull out following a heavy crash while descending the Colle dell’Agnello. Zakarin recovered in time to win a mountain stage of the Tour de France, then started the 2017 season on the right foot as runner up at the Abu Dhabi Tour – he’s aiming for more at the Giro d’Italia.
Ilnur Zakarin said about the Giro 100: “After my crash and forced abandon in 2016 I really want to show that I am able to finish a Grand Tour in the top five. I think that last year, without my crash in the descent of the Colle dell’Agnello, I would have been able to finish the 2016 Giro in the top five. This year my preparation was a bit disturbed by a bad crash in the Tour of Catalunya but I hope to be on track again just in time to perform very well in the Giro. It is the 100th edition, which is very special. It would be nice to put myself and my Katusha Team in the spotlight. I like this race; the Giro has a great history and I look forward to be part of its 100th edition. Moreover, I want to play a key role. It will be hard because many good riders are present, but I like challenges.”

Rohan Dennis (AUS – BMC Racing Team). As he finished second at Tirreno-Adriatico after winning the inaugural team time trial with BMC Racing Team and the closing individual time trial, the former track rider announced his four-year plan to become a Grand Tour overall contender. He takes the Giro 100 as a first test, focusing on the two time trials while Tejay van Garderen handles the leadership.
Rohan Dennis said: “I have a lot to learn and I have to start somewhere where there are a lot more opportunities to get a result so I chose to race the Giro d’Italia. It’s the first Grand Tour of the year and if you can learn how to race the Giro as a General Classification rider, you can race any Grand Tour.
“On paper, if you look at the route, I think 90 percent of the time the Giro is the hardest one every year. It’s probably the least-suited to me when it comes to the terrain so to be able to learn how to ride GC in a race that isn’t really suited to me, is a huge bonus for me in the future. My form at the Tour of the Alps leading into the Giro was spot on. I think I’ve given myself as good a chance as possible for my first GC attempt at a Grand Tour.”

PHOTO CREDIT: BettiniPhoto – ANSA – LaPresse

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