The Giro Lowdown
The 2012 Giro d'Italia route was announced and while it may be more "human" it still scares riders.
for everyone involved in the race who will be stressed out regardless. I'll continue to be content that Virginia has the road World Championships in 2015 and cyclocross Worlds in 2013. But let's get back to the 2012 Giro course.
The Giro starts in Denmark and the drama continues to ramp up. After the prologue there are the customary flat stages and then Stage 4's team time trial. Personally I love watching this discipline. The teams need to come together as a unit and the weakest links are made evident very quickly. Plus, I'm a huge tech geek and the time trial bikes are all about the newest equipment. Stage 8 is when things get difficult with a summit finish and from there the race enters the Alps. If watching the racing in the Alps doesn't at least make you want to book a travel vacation to the region you need to check and see if you have a pulse.
As I mentioned in the past, the last week of the 2011 Vuelta was a downer. We knew who had won the race and there was no suspenseful stage at the end to create any interest. Instead the Spanish tour just ended. Thankfully the Giro is not following in its Spanish Grand Tour cousin's footsteps. Friday and Saturday of the final weekend feature two tough climbing days and the time trial on Sunday will seal the deal on who will step on the top of the podium.
While the organizers of the race have designed the route to be more "human" it was enough to scare off defending champion Contador. El Pistolero has already said he's saving his bullets for July, so no Giro for him. Let's put aside the fact that he still has the positive result for clenbuterol from the 2010 Tour de France hanging over him like Damocles Sword, cast your mind back to Contador's Tour performance. His ability to respond in the mountains and shred his competitors was muted. As you know he finished fifth on the general classification by the time the peloton rolled into Paris. Hell, he was beaten by Frenchman Thomas Voeckler! Back in June if you'd had told me Voeckler was going to finish in front of Contador I might have slapped you in an effort to bring you back to your senses.
With the defending champion out of the picture, who is the favorite? Unlike the Tour where riders commit months to sometimes years in advance, the Giro is one that will be decided later in the year over some espresso and biscotti at the team's training camp. However, I am confident enough to pick an Italian winner. Why an Italian? Look at who followed Contador onto the final podium. He was the Spanish meat in an Italian sandwich. And I'm thinking either teammates Ivan Basso or Vincenzo Nibali could become the meat in 2012. They just need to see who picks the short straw that determines who is lining up in Denmark come May.
Conflicting with the Giro is the Amgen Tour