Due to terrible (or great if you ask some) scheduling the start of the TdF coincides with the GiroRosa, the biggest women's stage race on the calendar. This year the race offers a course that is truly worthy of its Giro name, with hills and mountains dominating almost every day. And unlike the Tour we will see the best riders lining up to compete for the overall win. Last year's dominant, all-crushing winner Annemiek van Vleuten will now have to contend with the two-time winner Anna van der Breggen in a contest that promises to be some of the best we've seen in many years. If someone had said two years ago that Anna vdB would come into the race as the second favorite, that someone would have been laughed out of the room but that's how impressive Van Vleuten has been since then. And Anna being a bit of a recluse and mystery rider these days we can't really be sure what level she will be at. It could be either "very very good" or "fantastic" and "very very good" will probably not be enough to beat Annemiek.
Behind the two are the other greatest challengers as well, pretty much no one is missing. Ashleigh Moolman, Lucinda Brand, Amanda Spratt, Kasia Niewiadoma, Elisa Longo Borghini, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Soraya Paladin are all here. Pretty much the only potential favorites/outsiders missing are Mavi Garcia and Clara Koppenburg. So it's as elite a field as anyone could hope for on a course that offers plenty of challenges.
As usual there will not be live video but once again there will be an hours highlightshow every night. This year it will be in two versions. One from PMG Sports about an hour after each stage finishes. Last year this typically showed the final of the race unedited (as live). New for this year is a Trek sponsored highlights show in English at 18:30 CEST every day.
Given the many different options there is no point in trying to make this thread spoiler free. Feel free to discuss as things happen and if you want to watch the highlights shows "untainted", best to stay out of the thread until after.
Stage 1: Cassano Spinola - Castellania 18 km TTT
A hilly team time trial, no one ever said the Giro Rosa doesn't throw up interesting challenges.
Stage 2: Viù - Viù 78,3 km
Once again hilly, no easy start for the sprinters. (hint: it's a theme)
Stage 3: Sagliano Micca - Piedicavallo 104.1 km
Uphill finish, shit gets real fast in this race.
Stage 4: Lissone - Carate Brianze 100.1 km
Now this looks relatively gentle for a change.
Stage 5: Ponte in Valtellina - Lago di Cancano 87.5 km
This was supposed to be the pièce de résitance with a finish at the Passo di Gavia but due to a landslide we are left with a slightly tamer version of a mountain stage.
Stage 6: Chiuro - Teglio 12.1 km Timetrial
Even the TT is (slightly) uphill. About 5% or so for most of it.
Stage 7: Cornedo Vicentino - Fara Vicentino 128.3 km
A tough hilly stage with an uphill finale of 4 km at about 5%
Stage 8: Vittorio Veneto - Maniago 133.3 km
More mountains but with an easier finale. Breakaway stage?
Stage 9: Gemona - Montasio 125.5 km
A straight shot mountaintop finish , 12 km at 7.3% average.
Stage 10: San Vito al Tagliamento - Udine 120 km
Definitely a day for the sprinters to shine at last. If they made it this far?