Ever since Marco Pantani romped away on stage 15 of the 1998 Tour to all but ‘win’ the Yellow Jersey to add to his Giro d’Italia title, the Giro-Tour double has sat unclaimed, untouchable, banished to the murky depths of cycling history. However, this year one rider has once again pinned his banner to the mast and stated that he will ride to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. That rider is Alberto Contador.
The list of seven riders who have achieved the double is certainly a who’s who of top riders over the past 70 years. Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Roche, Indurain and Pantani were, no doubt, the best riders of their generation and if the feat is ever to be achieved again the rider who does will certainly be at the top of their particular class. Now, this isn’t the place to discuss Alberto Contador’s credentials to that title but it is certainly the place to discuss the in’s and out’s of the 98th Giro d’Italia.
So, here we are again. The classics have been wrapped up and now we can tuck into the real meat of the cycling season sandwich. The route, as ever with the Giro, is full of surprises and drastic uphill finishes. What stands out immediately, however, is a difficult first week which could easily shake out the GC contenders right away. The 59.4km time trial and the and the climbs of Passo Daone, Mortirolo and Colle delle Finestre in the final week will be the real testing ground to any Maglia Rosa contenders.
Giro d’Italia 2015 – Route Map
Lets have a look at the main contenders and some you may not have considered. Alberto Contador is the bookies favourite, yet his 2015 season has been one of little concrete success. His mind has been on the Giro for a long time and having not raced since the Tour of Catalyuna in March, he’ll undoubtedly be fresh. His usual swashbuckling attacks in the mountains are nailed on as he will have to limit his losses in the 59.4km individual time trial.
Richie Porte is next up! A rider whose form is plain for all to see. And yet, it would take a very confident fan to tell you that Porte can win this Giro. Prone to a jours sans and only ever finishing in the top 10 of grand tour once before mean that he is far from nailed on! Team Sky bring Leopold Konig too who arguably has more consistent form in three week races. Rigoberto Uran, a solid if not spectacular second last year (arguably he could have won it after a cheeky move by Nairo Quintana) sits third favourite. A move to Etixx-Quickstep has bought success but at the detriment of team strength. Maxime Bouet, David de la Cruz and Pieter Sierry isn’t the most formidable line up of climbing domestiques and he’ll certainly have perform well to follow the wheels of the main favourites.
A quick comparison of competitive days raced, for each of the three main contenders, is very interesting. Contador sits on 19 days racing, Uran, 25 and Richie Porte, 33. Now, it could be said that Porte has built up to the race nicely and Contador sits undercooked, underaced, underprepared. However, it would take a very brave man to bet against Contador. He could easily ride himself into scintillating form, snatching the Giro and thus putting him in great shape for a tilt at the Yellow Jersey.
Fabio Aru, Domenico Pozzovivo, Benat Intxausti, Przemyslaw Niemiec and Ryder Hesjedal make up a merry band of outsiders that are in the frame to win the pink jersey. Aru’s supposed ‘problems’ have been well documented whilst apart from himself and Hejesdal the others have no real top notch form in Grand Tours to speak of. In terms of real outsiders, how about Davide Formolo to make an impression or Steven Kruijswijk to finally break through the glass ceiling that has been holding him back.
Who’s your tip to win the Giro? Get in touch on Twitter @CyclingShortsUK or @BywaterLawrence
The start and finish lines have been announced for the first ever Tour de Yorkshire international cycle race. Bridlington, Leeds, Scarborough, Selby, Wakefield and York will all host a prestigious start or finish of the new UCI-approved 2.1 race.
The race, which will be held on 1-3 May, is expected to become a flagship cycling event in the UK in 2015 and an outstanding cycle race in the international calendar, including the participation of top international teams and cycling stars. It will be broadcast live on national TV and throughout Europe.
The full route details will be revealed on January 21st, on the 100 days to go to the race.
The Tour de Yorkshire is a new race being held by Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) and Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY), supported by British Cycling.
Director of the Tour de France at A.S.O., Christian Prudhomme, said: “I am delighted we are returning to Yorkshire where we saw the grandest ever Grand Départ for the Tour de France. It is clear the people of Yorkshire are passionate about cycling and we can’t wait to bring them this new race.”
More than 3 million people turned out to see the Tour de France in Yorkshire and the economic impact has been put at well over £100million. Organisers say the new race will build on the hugely successful Grand Départ and is at the heart of Cycle Yorkshire, the legacy of the Tour de France.
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This is another huge milestone for Yorkshire as we position the county as the cycling heartland of Europe. This is the first ever Tour de Yorkshire, I am confident it will become a huge annual event and something that will raise Yorkshire’s profile year on year.”
Much of the new race will be in parts of the county the Tour de France didn’t touch.
Councillor Stephen Parnaby OBE, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The East Riding is an area with a great passion for cycling, a passion that can be summed up by the on-going success of the East Yorkshire Classic Cycling Weekend, which sees some of the country’s top cyclists ride through Beverley, and the mass participation of the recent Sky Ride Local scheme. Hosting a major sporting event will have untold benefits for the whole county in terms of tourism and boosting the local economy and the council will make every effort to capitalise on this.”
The deputy leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Councillor Carl Les, added: “There is no doubt the Tour de France was a huge boost for North Yorkshire and we’re keen to support this new race, which will further strengthen the region’s economy. After the dales benefited directly from the Tour de France, we’re particularly pleased to welcome the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire to North Yorkshire’s beautiful east coast and moors.”
British Cycling are supporting the new race and their President, Bob Howden, said: “This new annual race partnering Welcome to Yorkshire and A.S.O. with British Cycling will help to maintain the legacy progress gained so far, helping us to achieve our collective goals of inspiring more people to get on their bikes and get active. Events of this calibre show to the world that Britain has what it takes to be the par excellence deliverer of iconic world class showpieces.”
The race will have three stages over the Bank Holiday weekend in May running from Friday through to Sunday.
A mass sportive with several distances where people can ride the same route as the Pros will be held on day three (3 May) and thousands are expected to take part in what will be a historic first for the county. The mass ride will be delivered by Human Race – owners of the Dragon Ride and many other sportives – in collaboration with the Tour de Yorkshire organisers. Starting today, people can apply to enter the sportive on the Tour de Yorkshire website in order to enjoy a privileged entry fee www.letouryorkshire.com
Bernard Hinault, five times Tour de France winner, said: “The Tour de France has had a sportive alongside it for many years and it’s a unique experience for amateur riders to ride at L’Etape; so to have this similar experience available at the Tour de Yorkshire will be magnifique and something all keen riders will want to be part of.”
The Tour de Yorkshire will be an annual event with 2015 being the inaugural race.
Images ©CyclingShorts.cc / ChrisMaher.co.uk – 2014 Tour de france Grand Depart.