The countdown to the 2013 Giro d’Italia starts here.
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) will begin his attempt to add a second Grand Tour victory to his palmares in Napoli on Saturday (May 4).
Three weeks of racing lie ahead of the Tour de France champion, and a varied parcours will see Wiggins and his Team Sky troops face a team time trial, mountains, and an individual time trial within the first week.
There will be no gentle introduction to the 2013 corsa rosa. In the first of our in-depth previews, we consider the parcours of stages two, three, and eight – three engagements within the first week with the power to shape the final outcome.
Stage two: Ischia to Forio (17.4km) – Sunday May 5, 2013 – Team Time Trial
After the opening day’s gift to the sprinters in Napoli, the GC men will stake their earliest claims for overall victory on this lumpy, twisting, technical team time trial.
Four moderate climbs are likely to offer a cumulative effect rather than the shattering of the time sheets promised by the double digit ascents due in stage twenty’s race against the clock.
The closing four kilometers are especially challenging, with a seven per cent climb, a nine per cent descent, three notable bends and a final dip to the line.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep were dominant on a rain-slicked course on the opening stage of this year’s Tirenno-Adriatico, putting 25 seconds into Team Sky. Wiggins can afford no such deficit in the Giro.
Stage three: Sorrento to Moreno di Ascea (222km) – Monday May 6, 2013 – Medium Mountain
Riders hoping to ease into nearly 3,500km of racing will find their hopes shattered as early as stage three.
A lumpy opening 70km will provide plenty of opportunities for breakaways and the teams with GC contenders will have to remain vigilant.
Should a group of riders escape the attentions of the peloton and break clear on the early climbs, they will then have a flat 50km to hold off the peloton.
The complexion of the stage changes dramatically at 145km when the riders reach the second category climb of San Mauro Cilento, one that peaks at 551 metres.
A sharp descent, and a slowly building gradient takes them to the third category Sella di Catona, whose peak marks the start of a helter skelter descent to the finish in Marina di Ascea, 20km away.
Stage eight: Gabicce Mare to Saltara (54.8km) – Saturday May 11, 2013 – Individual Time Trial
This largely flat test of nearly 55km is bookended by two very different but significant challenges.
The opening 26km are littered with twists and turns, creating a highly technical course that will reward bike handlers in dry conditions and the courageous should it rain.
Once the first time check has been reached, however, the route straightens, allowing the power houses to find a rhythm and make gains.
The closing kilometre climbs significantly, and if a sudden increase in gradient isn’t a sufficient challenge, the organisers have thrown in a short section of pavé.
A sharp right turn leads to a final 500 metres conducted on a gradient of 13 per cent. Time trialists who struggle on climbs could lose buckets of time on a closing section likely to be reached with the rider already on the point of exhaustion.
Check back tomorrow when we consider the riders likely to contest the sprints competition.
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