Roster: Appollonio, Belletti, Berard, Betancur, Bonnafond, Dupont, Gastauer, Georges, Pozzovivo
GC Mojo: Pozzovivo is a solid bet for a top ten or a DNF. Betancur is by far the more interesting prospect, a former GiroBio winner with only one grand tour start under his belt. Thus far he's been more of a one-day rider than a stage racer, but it's early.
Other Maglia Mojo: Appollonio might go in search of points, though he's having a pretty poor spring. Betancur could be a favorite for the best young rider (maglia bianca).
Verdict: Pozzovivo is coming off a fall and some broken ribs, but with the race back-loaded he will probably find his way into the GC conversation, in some forgettable way. Maybe a stage win from Pozzo and some nice riding by Betancur, at least for a couple weeks.
Roster: Ermini, Felline, Gavazzi, Gil Martinez, Pellizotti, Rodriguez, Rosa, Rubiano Chavez, Sella
GC Mojo: It's hard to see who they're riding for. Pellizotti? Sella? Can I stop now?
Other Maglia Mojo: Well, they're loaded with climbers who can sprint. Felline is a bit green, but he might be able to score enough points in the bunch sprints and the mid-mountain stuff to steal the maglia rossa.
Verdict: Gosh, there's just so much to like about this team. If only they still had Davide Rebellin. Anywho, Rubiano Chavez and Gavazzi are both stage threats, climber types who (in Gavazzi's case) can wind it up at the end.
Roster: Agnoli, Aru, Gruzdev, Kangert, Kessiakoff, Nibali, Tiralongo, Vanotti, Zeits
GC Mojo: Unstoppable. This team debuted two weeks ago at the Giro del Trentino, where Kangert and Aru did great work setting up Nibali, who put it away with relative ease. Yes, Wiggins is the putative favorite, but when it comes to Italian teams winning in Italy, Astana look like they know how to do things right. Lots of useful veterans like Tiralongo and Agnoli, who will help Nibali through any trying times.
Other Maglia Mojo: Aru for the Young Rider (maglia bianca) competition. This is probably unfair, but if you ride impressively enough, people will talk.
Verdict: Wow do I like this team. For years the Astana label conjured up a bunch of post-Lance hangover images. Now it's evolved into an interesting mix of productive veterans and talented kids, with a big Italian streak thanks to Giuseppe Martinelli's presence. I don't love Astana yet, but am definitely in like with them.
Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox
Roster: Battaglin, Boem, Bongiorno, Canola, Colbrelli, Locatelli, Modolo, Pirazzi, Zardini. Probably the awesomest collection of names in the Giro. There's "hello," there's the cooking oil guy, there's a pirate and a sardine. Their logo should be a pirate frying sardines and waving hello. [Yes, I know "Bongiorno" is actually one vowel short of "hello."]
GC Mojo: The CSF franchise got kind of blowed up in the off-season, for reasons I don't recall ever knowing. But gone are guys like Pozzovivo and Brambilla who made Colnago the top continental outfit at the Giro last year. Pirazzi inherits the mantle, and his seventh last month in Trentino says he's up for improvement on his 2012 finish (when he presumably was riding for others anyway). So while the team is a shadow of last year's, that may not be such a bad thing.
Other Maglia Mojo: Zardini was fifth in the GiroBio last year, making him an early entry for the maglia bianca, albeit one not likely to hold it together all three weeks. Give the kid some time. Same for Locatelli, though coming ninth in Trentino just now suggests he's further along in his development. Modolo will probably bag a sprint somewhere.
Verdict: If Vlaanderen90 isn't all over this team, then he must hate Italians (probably not the case). This is a team of very young, very talented climbers, who may or may not ever amount to something big. That's the thing about the kids... what if they do amount to something big? Like, this month? With all the caveats about patience and realistic expectations, they could be extremely fun to watch.
Blanco Pro Cycling Team
Roster: Bobridge, Clement, Garate, Gesink, Kelderman, Kruijswijk, Maartens, Tjallingii, Wynants.
GC Mojo: Make-good time, as Blanco trade in their faint Tour de France hopes for something more realistic (maybe). Gesink is the captain, but it was Kruijswijk who added "strong Giro" to his resume two years ago, so any sign of discomfort from Gesink might lead to Kruijswijk getting his shot. Or it would, had Kruijswijk done anything since that nice Giro ride two years ago.
Other Maglia Mojo: Stages. Always with the stages.
Verdict: The problem with written communication is that you can't see how tired I am as I talk about these guys.
Roster: Blythe, Cummings, Evans, Lodewyck, Morabito, Oss, Phinney, Santaromita, Wyss
GC Mojo: Either Evans is sandbagging or he hasn't really come here to win. If it falls in his lap or his form suddenly materializes, then great, but it sounds like this is more of a warm-up to the Tour for Cadel. Which leaves... nobody.
Other Maglia Mojo: They will crush the TTT. Phinney's performance in the long ITT will be one to watch. Oss is a beast, hopefully he'll get into some interesting breaks.
Verdict: Tourists-plus. Not for lack of love or respect for the Giro. I just don't think they have the horses for most of this race.
Roster: Caruso, Dall'Antonia, Longo Borghini, Marangoni, Sabatini, Salerno, Sarmiento, Viviani, Wurf (?)
GC Mojo: Italian fans will be rocking the black wristbands this month for their standard-bearing team's standard-bearer. Ivan Basso's cyst has sent Cannondale's hopes ass-over-teakettle this week, leaving poor Damiano Caruso in charge of beating Bradley Wiggins. Caruso made his Giro debut last year and finished a credible 24th, but moving up to the top-20 was going to be enough of a challenge, let alone assuming the last-minute mantle of team leadership.
Other Maglia Mojo: Basso's exit does free up the team to focus on Viviani's stage chances, maybe even points jersey contention, though he won't be favored to do much more than contend. Salerno won the KOM jersey in Catalunya, so perhaps he has a taste for that sort of thing.
Verdict: All about stage wins. I wonder if they would have thought about bringing Sagan here if Cannondale knew Basso was unavailable? Probably not, the boy needs a rest at some point, but it is shocking to think that the Lime Boys could go through a Giro d'Itaila quietly while the most visible asset in cycling is sitting at home. Or worse, in California.
Roster: Atapuma, Avila, Chalapud, Duarte, Duque, Marentes, Ospina, Pantano, Quintero. The mere mention of Pantano will send a few Italians inexplicably into fits of sobbing. Could he please wear a pink bandana?
GC Mojo: If this were the national team of Colombia, they would be a strong favorite for a podium place. Alas, Team Colombia (nee Coldeportes) doesn't sport the kind of seasoned Euro talent you'd need here. Duarte and Atapuma are quality climbers, but neither has much of a track record beyond the one-week format.
Other Maglia Mojo: Not seeing this either. I think they'll be straight-on stage-hunters. Possibly very effective stage-hunters. Duque too, on the funkier possible-sprint stages.
Verdict: The Coming Colombian Hegemony is still simmering.
Roster: Ezanza, Martinez, Mestre, Minguez, Sanchez, Tamouridis, Urtasun, Verdugo, Vrecer
GC Mojo: The usual B-list guys I don't recog... wait -- Sammy Sanchez. At the Giro?! Well, this just got 10% more interesting. I guess it's fair to ask what Sammy has left in the tank nowadays, and his only Giro was in 2005, an anonymous 17th. But since then he's come second in the Vuelta and third in the Tour. So, you know, he can do this. Verdugo and Martinez should lend him solid support.
Other Maglia Mojo: Nada. Zip. Nunca.
Verdict: This Giro. So not dull.
Roster: Bouhanni, Casar, Fischer, Jeanneson, Le Bon, Mourey, Pichon, Rollin, Roux
GC Mojo: If they had any GC mojo, do you think they'd burn it in May? Casar will surprise us with another 20-ish finish, because we won't have noticed him at any time during the race.
Other Maglia Mojo: Not much, really. I can't see Bouhanni coming off his terrible crash and launching a serious points campaign.
Verdict: On the other hand, virtually everyone on this roster is capable of an interesting stage win. I do hope Bouhanni can get into high gear in the bunch finishes. Having Roux away on a climb could be fun too.
Roster: Danielson, Dekker, Haas, Hesjedal, Hunter, Millar, Navardauskas, Stetina, VandeVelde
GC Mojo: Clearly their only mojo, and Hesjedal will be tested beyond last year's field of climbers who can't crono out of a wet paper bag. In the end it'll be up to the Canadian, but the team is calculated for a strong defense, combining full-on TTT power with experience and climbing ability. Gonna give BMC a run for their money in stage 2, and Sky in the rest of the race.
Other Maglia Mojo: Zip, apart from Hunter and Haas chasing sprints.
Verdict: I don't expect Hesjedal to win, but underestimating him is a poor way to make a living.
Roster: Belkov, Brutt, Caruso, Gusev, Ignatenko, Kozontchuk, Paolini, Trofimov, Vicioso
GC Mojo: Somehow I don't think their Giro effort was what got them over the hump with the UCI.
Other Maglia Mojo: Honestly, I don't see anything happening here either.
Verdict: Wow do I not really like this team.
Roster: Cattaneo, Durasek, Ferrari, Niemiec, Pietropolli, Pozzato, Scarponi, Serpa, Stortoni
GC Mojo: Scarponi comes in as the most recent Italian "winnar" of the Giro, having been gifted the 2011 race when Contador's results were scrubbed. Last year's effort was even more forgettable, Mickey having lost to both a Canadian and a Belgian, and his current form, including losing 16 minutes in Trentino, is a mystery, though fifth in Liege is more promising. Also, he can't ride a crono to save his life, so there's that. Niemiec could see himself co-leader by week 2.
Other Maglia Mojo: Hm, can Ferrari manage a points campaign? He will have some help in the form of Pozzato and Pietropolli, at a minimum. Stages will be a real possibility.
Verdict: While the top-end talent is nothing special, I do at least like how Lampre have put together a dual sprints-GC squad with some useful helpers for each discipline. A sensible roster is a good place to start.
Roster: Bak, Bellemakers, Bulgac, De Greef, De Haes, Dockx, Hansen, Reynes, WIllems
GC Mojo: What?
Other Maglia Mojo: None. This is a thoroughly Belgian squad. For the Giro.
Roster: Capecchi, Cobo, Dowsett, Herrada, Intxausti, Karpets, Lastras, Ventoso, Visconti
GC Mojo: Dubious, but JJ Cobo is trying to recapture the magic of his 2011 Vuelta win. Intxausti comes in as co-leader, combining some Giro experience last year, a 10th in the Vuelta, and some fair form this spring. They won't be overly conspicuous, but for a team that's holding onto their cards this is OK.
Other Maglia Mojo: Capecchi is one of those C-list guys who can and maybe should chase the KOM jersey. Did you know that from "eroscapecchi" you can spell "escape"?
Verdict: What's Italian for meuh?
Omega Pharma Quickstep
Roster: Brambilla, Cavendish, Golas, Keisse, Pauwels, Pineau, Steegmans, Trentin, Vermote
GC Mojo: Seriously?
Other Maglia Mojo: All for Cav, though he's talking down any real chaces, saying there are only a few sprint stages. Sandbag much?
Verdict: [yawn] I get it, the dude can sprint. Can we keep going?
Roster: Durbridge, Goss, Howard, Keukeleire, Lancaster, Meier, Mouris, Tuft, Weening
GC Mojo: Durbridge? No serious challenge happening here.
Other Maglia Mojo: I would put Durbridge out there for a bit of a white jersey challenge, though he's hardly a favorite. The team's main objective is putting Goss into sprints, and with Goss's abilities, particularly on Italian roads, he might be the man to watch for the points... if a sprinter has a chance. Howard gets in the mix, and they should ride a stonking TTT.
Verdict: Nice to see OGE giving the kids a chance to play. Not that they have a lot of options, but it's a good plan.
Roster: Bennett, Hondo, Kiserlovski, Machado, Nizzolo, Popovych, Roulston, Oliveira, Sergeant
GC Mojo: Once upon a time Kiserlovski finished tenth in the Giro, at the ripe age of 23. He hasn't put a big grand tour together since, but there's no reason he can't. Except for the time trial, where he's the springbok and Wiggins is a lion. Machado can't be taken seriously for GC, but he and the ageless Popo should make a pretty fair support team.
Other Maglia Mojo: I can dream of Nizzolo feasting on the sprints and winning the points jersey, can't I?
Verdict: Not feeling the vibe here. A better bet is some stage-hunting.
Roster: Cataldo, Henao, Knees, Pate, Puccio, Siutsou, Uran, Wiggins, Zandio
GC Mojo: Seems pretty obvious. Wiggins is here to win, and the Giro have obliged with a massive time trial. Jens already covered the team's strengths. Odds-on favorites.
Other Maglia Mojo: I think Henao just missed the cutoff for Young Rider. Anyway, Sky won't be after any other jerseys besides pink. Stages neither.
Verdict: They're going to ruin the Giro, aren't they?
Roster: Damuseau, De Backer, De Kort, Degenkolb, Gretsch, Cheng, Ludvigsson, Mezgec, Timmer
GC Mojo: Ludvigsson? Damuseau can climb too. Probably way too early to think of this though.
Other Maglia Mojo: Degenkolb was the top sprinter in the 2012 Vuelta points comp; had that race not been too climber-tilted, he'd have bagged a jersey. This Giro poses the same question as to whether a non-sprinter can win, but it's Degenkolb's time if the answer to that question is affirmative.
Verdict: I bet Degenkolb kicks some ass. The points jersey will be a stretch, but stages aren't.
Roster: Bennati, Boaro, Breschel, Christensen, Kroon, Majka, Petrov, Pires, Sutherland
GC Mojo: Breschel! I think he has it in him. If somehow that doesn't work out, I guess Majka is the guy?
Other Maglia Mojo: Boaro is that rarest of species, an Italian crono-specialist. But I don't see him winning a stage. Bennati is a veteran point-getter, so if he can move up in the real bunch gallops, he's got a chance. Benna climbs decently enough to make it to a couple sprints where Cav and Degenkolb may not. But so does Goss.
Roster: Bole, Kaizer, Lammertink, Ligtart, Marcato, Ruijgh, Valls Ferri, Veuchelen, Wauters
GC Mojo: Ruijgh was once 20th at the Tour, so I guess it falls on him. Another 20th would sound about right.
Other Maglia Mojo: Nope. Just stage hunting.
Roster: Andriato, Chicchi, Di Luca, Garzelli, Gatto, Proni, Rabottini, Santambrogio, Taborre
GC Mojo: Two former winners, so I guess that's their game, right? Right?
Other Maglia Mojo: Starting with their grotesque kit colors, you will be seeing these guys all over the race. Chicchi will figure in the bunch sprints, and both he and Gatto could hang around in the points comp. The entire rest of the roster consists of guys who can climb well in one form or another, if not quite for three weeks straight. Santambrogio is the guy you have to take seriously (remember, we're just talking stages here), and Rabottini, Taborre and Garzelli shouldn't be overlooked. Gatto for the middlin stages. Di Luca for causing trouble now and again. Garzelli maybe for the KOM and definitely for a long breakaway.
Verdict: This could easily be the most fun team of the Giro. Every year one Italian B-level team makes noise, and since these guys are the opposite of moribund
Bardiani Androni, they're my pick to bring the CrAzY good times. Like, four-man breakaway in the mountains good times. And the more secondary jerseys they gain, the less neon we have to look at. Can we all join together and root for this?