As the start of the 2017 Giro draws closer, things are taking shape. We have final startlists; an internet revolt has canceled the badly-planned descenders trophy; and our own Susie Hartigan has arrived in Sardinia for the start, reporting that strong winds might make for an interesting launch of the race. Hopefully not too interesting.
Just a couple words on the downhill thing. The riders and teams themselves spoke up to put a stop to this, or at least some of them did, which is enough to convince me that the popular perception of this as a bad idea was more or less accurate. The Giro is sticking to their guns: if only everyone else could be as tone-deaf as us, they would see why this is a good idea. I can’t say I’m impressed.
Here’s your teams rundown, not only for this year but with a bit of the history each team brings to the start.
Lineup: Vincenzo Nibali, Valerio Agnoli, Manuele Boaro, Javier Moreno, Enrico Gasparotto, Franco Pellizotti, Luka Pibernik, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Giovanni Visconti
Giro History: None, as the team was just created out of whole cloth last winter. Nibali is of course the reigning campionissimo of the race, with two victories in the last four editions, and he has a veteran lineup around him.
Objectives: Overall victory, naturally, as Nibali, now 32, has entered the legacy-building phase of his career and has essentially formed his own team for the purpose. The Giro is his primary objective. A third victory would put him behind only the trio of five-time champions in Giro history, and he needs only six more days in pink to crack the top ten on that list. They could go stage-hunting too, but will probably focus laser-like on GC instead.
Outlook: Strong, but far from prohibitive. The Giro starts off with several riders who could thwart Nibali’s ambitions, though all of them are foreigners and they tend to lose interest in the Giro, or vice versa, before it ends. Nibali could still yet end up covered in more glory than his gold-leaf-wrapped Merida frame.
Lineup: Domenico Pozzovivo, Julien Berard, Francois Bidard, Clement Cevrier, Hubert Dupont, Ben Gastauer, Alexandre Geniez, Quentin Jauregui, Matteo Montaguti
Giro History: Two stage wins and a podium finish (Gadret, 2006) is a pretty paltry haul for a team that’s been around longer than the Internet. Worse is that Pozzovivo, the Professor, has only managed a fifth in his best Giro finish. At least his team has the built-in excuse of being French and not taking races in Italy seriously.
Objectives: They’ll make noise about supporting Pozzovivo’s overall ambitions, but it’s nonsense. A KOM jersey or a stage seems a lot more reasonable.
Outlook: Wake me when it’s over.
Lineup: Dario Cataldo, Jesper Hansen, Tanel Kangert, Pello Bilbao, Luis Leon Sanchez Gil, Paolo Tiralongo, Zhandos Bizigitov, Andrey Zeits
Giro History: Three overall victories, including Contador in 2008 and Nibali’s two wins, plus the rather impressive run in 2015 where they took five stages and the two podium spots... after Contador, who was with Tinkoff by then. Had Fabio Aru made it here in good health, we could add a bit more to the discussion of the 2017 squad, and of course the death of Michele Scarponi not only cut out the team’s heart but deprived this discussion of a former-winner mention. For now all I can see is three-times stage victo Tiralongo.
Objectives: Stages. Nothing is as it was, or as it should have been, for Astana’s Giro campaign.
Outlook: The raw emotions around the team will probably lend itself to some inspired riding. Kangert and Sanchez seem like possibilities, along with one more for Tiralongo’s palmares before his career winds down.
Lineup: Giulio Ciccone, Vincenzo Albanese, Nicola Boem, Mirco Maestri, Stefano Pirazzi, Nicola Ruffoni, Simone Andreetta, Enrico Barbin, Lorenzo Rota
Giro History: Illustrious! The team traces its roots back to the Termolan-Galli squad in 1982, and in its 3.5 decades of riding the Giro a lot they can count 25 stage victories (Stefano Allochio? Julio Perez Cuapio?) and seven minor classifications, including four Scalatore jerseys and a best young rider. Boem, Ciccone and Pirazzi all have single stage wins to their name.
Objectives: Not that I know much about this team, but Ciccone is on record as aiming for stages, following off-season surgery that limited his winter a bit. It’s only his second grand tour, so the GC isn’t worth discussing. Ruffoni is a sprinter and took two stages of the Croatia Tour last week, making him another bet for stage success. Pirazzi is a former KOM winner but it’s been a while.
Outlook: Middlin. Ruffoni will be facing tougher competition than he’s used to, and Ciccone will be a known quantity when they get to the Blockhaus, where he’s expected to do something for the hometown crowd in Chieti. Lots of smoke, so maybe there will be fire.
Lineup: Tejay van Garderen, Rohan Dennis, Silvan Dillier, Ben Hermans, Manuel Quinziato, Joey Rosskopf, Manuel Senni, Dylan Teuns, Francisco Ventoso
Giro History: By my count, it’s five stage wins, from Evans’ memorable strade bianche romp to Phinney’s opening ITT win (and maglia rosa), to Gilbert winning two stages a few years back. BMC are one of the few teams whose commitment to the Tour of California tends to get in the way of its Giro ambitions. This is especially true of van Garderen, a Cali regular and former winner, and Giro debutante.
Objectives: Overall success of some sort for Tejay. Dennis will take aim at the ITTs, and the Belgian soul of the team means stage-hunting, once Tejay falls out of contention for the podium.
Outlook: Just tipped my hand there. A Dennis stage win in Milan would be some terrific attention for the team that’s been out of the spotlight since at least five seconds ago. That sounds more likely.
Lineup: Sam Bennett, Cesare Benedetti, Jan Barta, Patrick Konrad, Jose Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes, Gregor Muhlberger, Matteo Pelucchi, Lukas Postlberger, Rudiger Selig
Giro History: Uh... none? Have they even been here before? It looks like once, in 2012, and there are a few riders still around from that adventure.
Objectives: Bennett is probably their only hope for success, apart from the usual random break wins and Pelucchi as plan B if Bennett can’t cut it.
Outlook: Bennett gets a chance to show how he fits in the bunch sprint hierarchy. He’s been invisible in his two Tours, but the Giro comes with all the grand tour trappings and none of the Kittels and Cavendishes. Still, there’s much left to prove.
Lineup: Davide Formolo, Hugh Carthy, Joe Dombrowski, Pierre Rolland, Toms Skujins, Davide Villella, Michael Woods, Alex Howes, Kristian Koren, Tom Jelte Slagter
Giro History: A smattering of stage wins, from Tyler Farrar years ago to Davide Formolo last year. Oh, and Ryder Hesjedal’s overall victory in 2012. Not bad for another team that invests a lot in the ATOC.
Objectives: They’d like to insert themselves into the GC conversation, something they had tried with Rigoberto Uran last year (he got 7th) but he’s off to the Tour this time. Barring that, their legion of young legs will probably go stage-hunting in the mountains.
Outlook: Formolo, the putative leader, has a couple Giri in his legs but would require a leap forward to crack the top ten after two straight finishes at #31. Carthy is even younger, but of a higher pedigree as a pure climber, so he will bring some intrigue if not immediate impact. Villella, whose classics stock is rising, is maybe their best bet to sneak off and win a stage.
CCC Sprandi Polkowice
Lineup: Simone Ponzi, Marcin Bialoblocki, Felix Grosschartner, Jan Hirt, Lukasz Owsian, Maciej Paterski, Branislau Samoilau, Michal Schlegel, Jan Tratnik
Giro History: Just their second invite, after 2015, so no, they don’t have much of a history here.
Outlook: Ponzi is actually something of a hardman, with a second at Plouay to his credentials, so the mezza montagna stages will be within reach. Paterski will either hang around in the break on climbing stages, to maximize his faint stage hopes.
Lineup: Thibaut Pinot, Odd Christian Eiking, Rudy Molard, Steve Morabito, Sébastien Reichenbach, Kévin Reza, Jérémy Roy
Giro History: They’ve had their share of starts here, 12 if you’re counting, but only a points jersey from Nacer Bouhanni and three stage wins to their name. Pinot himself is a debutante.
Objectives: Pinot’s overall chances. Reichenbach has come into his own finishing 14th in the Tour and has ridden the Giro once before, but will serve as Pinot’s domestique. Reza is a B-list sprinter.
Outlook: Hm, your guess is as good as mine, but Pinot seems pretty determined to reestablish his grand tour credentials after two somewhat fallow seasons. His support is more than adequate, particularly by the standards of a French team in Italy, which tells you a lot about their ambitions.
Lineup: Serguei Firsanov, Pavel Brutt, Alexander Foliforov, Sergey Lagutin, Dmitriy Kozontchuk, Ivan Rovny, Alexey Tsatevitch, Evgeny Shalunov
Giro History: One stage, Alexander Foliforov’s ITT success last year. Tsatevich has at least been to the Giro before... getting booted out of the race last year (while with Katusha) for drafting in an ITT. Lagutin and Rovny have completed several Giri each.
Objectives: Foliforov’s stage win last year was out of the blue, and maybe back into it as well, but I’m sure that’s the sort of success that would satisfy the Gas-men.
Outlook: Not great, there is no mountain ITT for Foliforov to target, and the rest of them are not well established in the Giro. Well, except for Brutt, but whatever.
Lineup: André Greipel, Lars Bak, Sean De Bie, Jasper De Buyst, Adam Hansen, Moreno Hofland, Tomasz Marczynski, Maxime Monfort, Bart De Clercq
Giro History: Another team with relatively ancient bloodlines (1985) and almost nothing to show for it — Jurgen Van Den Broeck was sixth once. But they’re also Belgian, which means that if they didn’t hire a token Italian climber, the only part of the Giro that matches their DNA is stage wins, and they have a couple dozen of those, half of which by Robbie McEwen. Can we count their masterful work in service of Paolo Savoldelli’s Giro-saving final stage in 2005? The UCI says no, but Belgians will always respect a hard-earned payday.
Objectives: Stages. Greipel is always good for a show.
Outlook: Greipel is always good for a show. Seriously. The last time he attended a grand tour and didn’t win a stage was the 2007 Vuelta. That covers 11 grand tours, and in his last such appearance he won on the Champs Elysées. So I am not being funny: he is always good for a show.
Lineup: Nairo Quintana, Andrey Amador, Winner Anacona, Daniele Bennati, Gorka Izagirre Insausti, Jose Herrada, Rory Sutherland, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Victor de la Parte
Giro History: Under their current handle they’ve occupied all of the podium places plus a fourth, the most dramatic being David Arroyo’s near-win in 2010 and the most notable being Quintana’s dominant 2014 overall win, while still qualifying for the Young Rider comp. If you want to go by bloodlines, add in Miguel Indurain’s two wins as well.
Objectives: The overall win. Quintana is a former winner and a well-known quantity. The rest of the team seems pretty well geared to assisting the Colombian.
Outlook: Quintana is an 11/10 pick at the moment to win. Those are great odds, unless you were hoping to make money off his success.
Lineup: Adam Yates, Caleb Ewan, Alexander Edmondson, Michael Hepburn, Chris Juul-Jensen, Luka Mezgec, Ruben Plaza, Svein Tuft, Carlos Verona Quintanilla
Giro History: From its inception five years ago the team has made an impact with an early stage win and six more since, but it was Esteban Chaves’ all-too-brief but very charming turn in pink that has garnered most of the attention. Chaves ended up second overall, and apparently almost winning the Giro means you’re ready to try to win the Tour, so he isn’t here.
Objectives: Yates’ GC hopes are more along the lines of a possible podium finish. Ewan will be looking for sprints, with Mezgec as a fallback. Juul Jensen is a credible stage hunter.
Outlook: Yates is making his Giro debut, but he’s also coming off fourth in the Tour and just entering his prime years, so I wouldn’t be too quick to place limits on him. Ewan has a lot to prove still, but the Giro is one such chance.
Lineup: Bob Jungels, Eros Capecchi, Laurens De Plus, Dries Devenyns, Fernando Gaviria, Iljo Keisse, Ariel Maximiliano Richeze, Davide Martinelli, Peter Serry
Giro History: Not awful! Quick Step are both newer and more distinguished at the Giro than Lotto, with a second and sixth overall (Uran and Jungels), plus six minor jerseys (because Paolo Bettini loves brightly colored things) and the array of stage wins you could expect from a team that has brought Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel to Italy.
Objectives: Jungels is aiming for a GC result. Gaviria is there for the sprints. Everyone else has to help those guys or go stage hunting.
Outlook: Jungels will try to prove to skeptics like me that he is as much a real GC guy as his sixth place and stint in pink last year would suggest. His spring has been pretty undistinguished, so I doubt we will see him revisit his run of 2016. I’m a lot more hyped about seeing what Gaviria can do. Not only is the sprint crowd a bit thinned out from a Tour scene (though still quite impressive), the Giro is also a place where points are given out for a wide variety of performances. Maybe Gaviria is a lot less interested than I am in whether he can stay in contact on Mezza Montagna days and rack up a points victory — it’s nothing like a Green Jersey. But if he’s the next Sagan, well, now might be a fun time to start living up to that billing. [I know. Still...]
Lineup: Igor Anton Hernandez, Omar Fraile Matarranz, Nathan Haas, Kristian Sbaragli, Ryan Gibbons, Johann Van Zyl, Natnael Berhane, Jacques Janse Van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot
Giro History: Pretty sure this is just their second participation, and last year didn’t yield much besides Kanstantin Siutsou finishing 10th.
Objectives: Just grow as a team. Anton is a C-list climber, while Berhane and Teklehaimanot are a pair who could win out of a break. Sbaragli is a long-shot sprinter.
Outlook: I don’t actually think any of those guys will do much, but Haas looked solid in the Ardennes and is maybe their best chance at a stage.
Lineup: Ilnur Zakarin, Maxim Belkov, Jose Goncalves, Robert Kiserlovski, Pavel Kochetkov, Vyatchelsav Kuznetsov, Alberto Losada, Matvei Mamykin, Angel Vicioso
Giro History: The, uh, Swiss team has about what you’d expect in the way of random stage wins and a memorable second place overall from Mr. Second Place Overall, Joaquim Rodriguez. Zakarin was a semi-tragic DNF last year when he crashed out of fifth overall on the last mountain stage.
Objectives: Zakarin comes back to cement his place in the upper end of the GC.
Outlook: This year’s field is a bit more crowded (for now). He’ll need to do more than just not crash out to grab a top ten. And 15th in Romandie is not very convincing.
Lineup: Steven Kruijswijk, Enrico Battaglin, Victor Campenaerts, Stef Clement, Bram Tankink, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Jos van Emden, Twan Caselijns, Martijn Keizer
Giro History: The Rabobank roots run pretty deep at the Giro. Well, maybe not “we used to win a lot” deep but “we tended to show up and throw someone half-decent at the GC” deep. The breakthrough occurred in 2009 in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, with Denis Menchov winning the (actual) Centenary Giro, though not before prostrating himself on the cobbles outside the Roman Colosseum and giving everyone a scare. Strangely Menchov’s stage wins that year were franchise firsts. And speaking of scares, precisely the thing Menchov’s fall portended actually happened last year, when Kruijswijk completed that nightmare scenario and crashed himself out of a nearly-assured overall victory. Van Den Broeck has his own GT history, which includes a seventh at the Giro.
Objectives: Kruijswijk is out for revenge against fate, a snowbank, and his own misfortune.
Outlook: Well... if the 2017 Giro got the band back together from 2016, I’d like his chances better, since he was truly the strongest rider overall. His spring has been quiet but also very focused, with lots of things like training in Tenerife instead of chasing splashy results. The problem is, Quintana and Pinot are a cut above last year’s crowd, and even Landa could represent an obstacle that wasn’t there before. So like Zakarin, it’s going to take more than a repeat performance, minus the error, to win this time.
Lineup: Mikel Landa Meana, Kenny Elissonde, Philip Deignan, Sebastian Henao Gomez, Vasil Kiryienka, Salvatore Puccio, Diego Rosa, Geraint Thomas, Michal Golas
Giro History: Sky are pretty ordinary at the Giro, all things considered, with just one podium spot in the person of Uran who was a distant second to Nibali in 2013. Cavendish bagged them a few sprints in 2012, and they’ve poached a stage here and there, plus Mikel Nieve taking the KOM jersey last time. But the new lineup is more storied, with Landa third in 2015 (plus two stages) for Astana and Kiryienka taking three ITTs over his career.
Objectives: A little of everything. If the GC gets away from them early... well, they’ll chase minor placements, but maybe free up some of their quality riders for stages.
Outlook: Landa’s spring has looked a bit worse than his last two, taking fifth in the Alps tour (reconstituted Trentino, which he won last year) and a withdrawal after getting dropped in Catalunya. Geraint Thomas, who won the Tour of the Alps, might end up as their actual captain, but he’s been fool’s gold in his grand tours.
Lineup: Tom Dumoulin, Phil Bauhaus, Simon Geschke, Chad Haga, Wilco Kelderman, Georg Preidler, Laurens Ten Dam, Sindre Skjoestad, Tom Stamsnijder
Giro History: Remember that time when the 2010 Giro started in Amsterdam and no Dutch Pro-Conti teams got wildcards? That was... not awesome. Sunweb, then Skil-Shimano, was one of those teams, but things have improved since then, with a healthy five stage wins in their four participations (as a WT team), including the final stage last year. Dumoulin won the opening ITT as well in 2016, and got almost a week in pink (minus one day) as a return on that investment, for the race that started in Appeldoorn. Which is why almost nobody still remembers their non-invitation in 2010.
Objectives: Dumoulin will shoot for a high GC finish and would love to win that Wine Trial.
Outlook: The big ITT is really well suited to Doom. The last week is not.
Lineup: Bauke Mollema, Eugenio Alafaci, Laurent Didier, Giacomo Nizzolo, Jasper Stuyven, Mads Pedersen, Peter Stetina, Julien Bernard, Jesus Hernandez
Giro History: Complicated! First, the team is the merger of the Radioshack and Layopard teams, though Radioshack only barely escapes having a direct connection to the old US Postal Service outfit, which shut down for a year before elements of it were reconstituted as Trek. But for that, we might discuss Paolo Savoldelli’s 2005 win here, but I guess I’ll have to come up with a different excuse to launch that thread. Anyway, even without Posties, Saxo-Sungard (which was the precursor to Layopard but then became Tinkoff) won the 2011 race via Alberto Contador, only for that result to be stricken from the rolls thanks to the clenbuterol business that arose out of the Tour de France ten months earlier. Does that count toward this team? I’ve lost track. But for that, Trek have gone almost entirely unnoticed at the Giro, apart from Nizzolo’s points win last year.
Objectives: Mollema’s GC place, Nizzolo for points and stages.
Outlook: For all his excellence at the Tour Mollema hasn’t even started the Giro since 2010, so it’s a bit hard to know what to make of him here. It’s been his goal since last fall, and as a veteran climber he should be ready to go. Just a matter of whether the Giro’s climbs suit him or not. Nizzolo has been barely noticed this spring, but on the heels of a very strong 2016 we shouldn’t write him off.
Lineup: Rui Costa, Marco Marcato, Valerio Conti, Roberto Ferrari, Matej Mohoric, Sacha Modolo, Simone Petilli, Jan Polanc, Edward Ravasi
Giro History: Sneaky strong, if by “sneaky” you mean “wait, they’re not a bunch of Arab guys?” and by “strong” you mean “they were an Italian powerhouse for a generation.” They only won twice under the Lampre name, both by Gilberto Simoni and ten full years apart, but compiled a long list of stage wins and high finishes. Modolo, Polanc and Ferrari have three stage wins between them.
Outlook: Modolo has been great all spring... but it wouldn’t shock me if he got to go on vacation halfway through, since the rest of the top 10 at the Ronde are already resting on a beach someplace. Costa is a clever rider and might be on more of an upswing, so look for him in the mezzo montagne events.
Lineup: Filippo Pozzato, Julen Amezqueta, Matteo Busato, Giuseppe Fonzi, Ilia Koshevoy, Jakub Mareczko, Daniel Felipe Martinez, Cristian Rodríguez, Eugert Zhupa
Giro History: Convoluted and forgettable at the same time. The team has been both ISD, a Ukrainian squad, and a vagabond Italian team registered in Venezuela as “Southeast.” Their three biggest performances at the Giro were the doping ejections of Danilo Di Luca, Mauro Santambrogio and Matteo Rabottini.
Objectives: To not disgrace the event or Italian cycling. Also to show Pozzato a good time in his retirement tour.
Outlook: Poor. Pippo looked great in Flanders, which will have to go down as his last triumph since he hardly ever does anything at the Giro, though you can look for him in a few breakaways.