Giro d’Italia 2024 – Preview

First Grand Tour of the season. It is time to find your notes from last year and monitor early breakaway attempts and see who wins the “burns his matches” awards this edition. Right of the bat, I notice two long time trials but not many very difficult mountain top finishes. As usual, I will go through the stages one by one and give my two cents on them individually.

Stage 1

Everyone will be nervous. Colle Maddelena will make sure most of the sprinters are going out the backdoor. Bivio di San Vito (1500m at 8.6%) will make it certain it will a GC day as it ends 2900m from the line.

Stage 2

It is a classic with a mountain top finish early in the race. It tends to be “let’s hand over the jersey day”. With a clear favorite this edition, I’m not so certain. He really likes winning. We shouldn’t see large GC gaps but a few riders will still be a bit off their best, and it does include a 4800m at 8.6% segment, so don’t sleep on Santaurio di Oropa.

Stage 3

Despite the few hills near the end, it will be the first chance for the sprinters.

Stage 4

The second stage for the sprinters. The area is wonderful and they finish near where Trofeo Laigueglia has its finish too.

Stage 5

A third sprint stage in a row. This is not your usual Giro d’Italia!

Stage 6

Gravel sectors. We should see a selection after the first sector and the intensity will likely cause crashes. They’ve found a beautiful little climb in Serre de Rapolano (700m at 9.7%) with 4400m from the line. It could end in many scenarios but one thing is for certain, many will find it hard to follow Pogacar.

Stage 7

A tough one. 34.3 km of flat where you really need to ride conservatively. Then the question regarding bikechanges. If you are not doing them right, just don’t even try. Ask Thomas, you could argue it costed him the Maglia Rosa in 2023. I think most stay on their bike, it is a very short portion of it that is steep. I am expecting medium large time gaps here.

Stage 8

Prato di Tivo. I know it from Tirreno-Adriatico but it was used in Il Giro d’Abruzzo less than a month ago. In general, I think we will see fireworks near the end but a lot of GC men went deep on stage 7. Nearing the end of the first week, a few legs are sore. I think Prati de Tivo can be the guillotine for a GC rider. When we get to it, I will likely lean towards a breakaway as a lot of riders saved energy on the TT and Forca Capistrello is a good launchpad.

Stage 9

The last stage in week 1. A decent makes it difficult for the breakaway to form, meaning it will likely happen later than you think. Plus, I’m not intimidated by the hills near the end. A sprint. The fourth of the week.

Stage 10

This is a tricky one. You will have to make some research regarding who goes well after a rest day. Some just seem to can’t get their legs spinning after one. And others, they just got 5% better. I wouldn’t sleep on it but even on a bad day, Bocca Della Selva shouldn’t cause many problems.

Stage 11

Sprint number five.

Stage 12

This is where you right now do a coinflip and decide if you think we will see a breakaway or a sprint. It depends on so much. Weather, DNF and so on. Right now, I’m leaning towards the breakaway.

Stage 13

This will certainly be a sprint stage. The sprinters have a very sprinter friendly edition.

Stage 14

The second and last time trial. Long and gruesome. Many GC men will be fresh because the past three days have been easy for them. I think the flat section on the first time trial (33.4 km that part) will give a rough indication of what to expect here.

Stage 15

Mountains. This is the toughest one so far. And one of the toughest in this edition. 5500 climbing meters and 220 km. It will tell you who isn’t winning. Plus, 2400m above sea level near the ski area. Right now, it looks like a gravel finish with the last 1800m not having tarmac on Veloviewer.

Stage 16

Oh my giddy aunt. I forgot abount Passo Dello Stelvio. I mean, something must happen there! What worries me is the long valley. However, they’ve found a lovely finish in Monte Pana with 1900m at 11.8%. That should cover some gaps.

Stage 17

Up and down all day. Still, the climbs are not the hardest in the world. A breakaway day.

Stage 18

After three mountain stages, this is your “breakaway will fool the sprinters day”. The numbers have dwindling, sprinters have quit. It is a close call with three weeks to go.

Stage 19

Breakaway stage.

Stage 20

I love this. You never know when you have an off day. And this is the day you can’t. The most important mountain stage with stage 15 to Livigno.

Stage 21

Sprint in Rome. It is what the race deserves. Nothing less.

The stages that define the race.

I think the two time trials will be very important, especially since they mainly are flat. It takes the first climbers out of the competition. Then, I think the most important mountain stages are stage 15 and stage 20. Now, that doesn’t mean I rule out that we won’t see GC gaps on the other stages. I just believe the gaps here will be the largest.

So it basically means this: The winner of the Giro d’Italia 2024 will have to be an excellent time trialists, plus be able to do well in mountain marathon stages. It looks like business as usual. Plus, a lot of the mountain stages looks to suit puncheurs more but it rarely leaves large gaps.

Contenders

G. Thomas – number #2 last year. I want to praise him for his consistency, and he will very likely be one of the riders fighting for the podium. As usual, don’t buy too much into his prior racing results this year, it is his kind of style. Being a fantastic teammate and then doing fantastic Grand Tours. A top-3.

T. Arensman – INEOS have another rider who I really enjoy watching. Thymen has been very consistent in Grand Tours, finishing 6th in La Vuelta 2022 and 6th here in 2023. He has a great set of skills, and he is a competent time trialist. Once more, don’t buy too much into the results in Tour of the Alps, I saw him do the pull on penultimate stage and that created the main selection. Another top-10. He will shine in the last week as usual.

D. F. Martinez – I must be honest and say bluntly, I don’t fancy him much. What he showed in Algarve was fantastic but he was poor in Tirreno-Adriatico and dropped out on the last stage. All this was due to a crash in Strade Bianche which is close to two months ago. I think he can contest for a top-5 but in reality I do think a top-10 is more likely. He hasn’t proven himself in a Grand Tour and that must count for something.

Ben O’Connor – it seems AG2R are better than ever. This is why I think their GC hope here will do well. He was a bit worse than I expected in Tirreno-Adriatico, but that really doesn’t count for much when they start on Saturday. It is the same with him as with Martinez, inconsistent in Grand Tours. I’d imagine he fights for a top-5, potentially the podium, he really has improved his time trial.

R. Bardet – somehow he turned the Spring season around just in time. 5th in Tour of the Alps followed by a 2nd a LBL. His biggest issue will be the time trials which is no surprise. It is an odd one to predict, as it is very difficult. He has looked past his best in many seasons but somehow I do think he can fight for the top-5. Atleast the top-10.

C. Uijtdebroeks – I don’t want to write too much here to keep it short. A top-10. A learning process.

T. Pogacar – the man, the myth, the legend. Only bad luck will keep him from winning. With the Tour de France in mind, I do wonder if he will take it easy. I highly doubt it. He is by far the best Grand Tour rider here and he should win by quite a margin.

A. Tiberi – first Grand Tour as a captain. I’d imagine he ends somewhere in the top-10. I don’t know how well he recovers throughout the race.

Who will win?

Tadej Pogacar.

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