The first of cycling’s Grand Tours for 2013 begins today in Naples, with a flat 130km blast finishing in a circuit along the city’s waterfront.
All of the tension and expectation of a wide-open race, the intrigue over general classification favourites, team leadership and politics will be put aside for stage 1, which should provide a manic bunch sprint finish.
Naturally, the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish will start as favourite for the stage win and the right to wear the first maglia rosa of the race.
With Lotto-Belisol’s sprinter numero uno Andre Greipel sitting the Giro out, Cav’s main rival for sprint supremacy is likely to be Matt Goss.
Orica-GreenEdge has chosen a squad packed with powerful riders, with the clear aim of driving Goss to stage wins in the flat stages. If all goes to plan, the battle for leadout supremacy with Cavendish’s OPQS squad should be a compelling one for OGE fans.
Other sprinters to watch include Saxo-Tinkoff’s Daniele Bennati, Argos-Shimano’s John Degenkolb, FDJ’s Nacer Bouhanni, Elia Viviani of Cannondale, BMC’s Adam Blythe, and Marco Marcato of Vacansoleil-DCM.
The Australian contingent is strong, with ten riders in the starting peloton.
Apart from BMC’s GC hope Cadel Evans and Matt Goss, there are OGE riders Luke Durbridge, Leigh Howard, and Brett ‘Burt’ Lancaster. Australians riding for other teams include Garmin’s Nathan Haas, Blanco’s Jack Bobridge, Cannondale’s Cameron Wurf, Lotto-Belisol enforcer Adam Hansen, and Saxo-Tinkoff’s Rory Sutherland.
The Roar will be live-blogging Stage 1 when TV coverage starts from 10pm AEST, so grab some pizza and a glass of red, and join us to enjoy the beginning of the Giro d’Italia 2013.