The greatest stage race in the world begins tomorrow as 23 teams battle for the Maglia Rosa and the top podium step in Milan come May 29th. This years Giro, the 94th edition of the race, celebrates Italy and it’s unification as a country while pitting arguably the strongest field we will see this year. In what looks to be a vastly more difficult race than both The Tour and The Vuelta not only to win but also to even finish, the 2011 Giro D’Italia is going to be a heck of a race.
The favorites coming to Italy are last years second place finisher David Arroyo and third place finisher Vincenzo Nibali. Additionally former winners Alberto Contador (2008) and Denis Menchov (2009), 2011 Tirreno-Adriatico winner Michele Scarponi, Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (2008), rising stars Joaquim Rodriguez, Roman Kreuziger, Giovanni Visconti and Igor Anton make for a hugely talented field which may rival any group put forth in the Tour or Vuelta.
This year’s Cima Coppi is the 2236m Passo Giau on the massive Stage 15 as the riders go over five different category 1 climbs and cover 229km. This stage and the equally epic penultimate stage 20 which, for the first time since Salvodelli defended here against Simoni, climbs the insane Colle delle Finestre which is a dirt road for 8km! The following photo is from the Geox team recon, and it looks crazy:
The first stage kicks of tomorrow with the always interesting and often rainy Team Time Trial. It’s not a stage the will change much for the overall win, but someone could crash out of the race if they aren’t careful. The stage departs Venaria Regale and ends 19.3km later in Torino. Garmin and HTC will renew TTT hostilities and it should get the race started off with a bang. I can’t wait!