The primary grand tour of the season is nearly upon us, because the world’s greatest cyclists traverse Italy within the hunt for the pink jersey, or maglia rosa.
Final 12 months’s champion, Australian Jai Hindley, is not going to be in Italy to defend his crown, as a substitute setting his sights on the Tour de France.
Nonetheless, there are nonetheless loads of speaking factors forward of the three-week, 3,489-kilometre race.
Listed here are the 5 issues you’ll want to know.
Jack Haig hoping to money in on some much-needed success
Jai Hindley grew to become simply the second Australian in historical past to win certainly one of biking’s grand excursions when he claimed victory in Verona final 12 months.
That efficiency was removed from an outlier, with Hindley’s success being the fourth time an Aussie has stood on the rostrum within the seven earlier grand excursions.
A type of podium finishers was Jack Haig on the 2021 Vuelta a España.
His third-place end was exceptional in that it got here sizzling on the heels of his disappointment at having missed the Tokyo Olympics after crashing out of the Tour de France with a damaged collarbone.
Haig has been unlucky at biking’s premier stage race.
He additionally crashed out of final 12 months’s Tour, breaking his wrist on stage 5 that prematurely ended his season.
The 29-year-old has slowly constructed into this 12 months’s race, ending eleventh on the Vuelta a Andalucia and tenth in Paris-Good.
Nonetheless, a third-placed end on the current Tour of the Alps exhibits he has the shape within the excessive mountains following a strong coaching block in Teneriffe.
The 2 principal favourites, Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič are prone to be the riders to beat, however that does imply that the ultimate podium place may very well be up for grabs.
Michael Matthews in search of first stage win since 2015
Michael Matthews will return to the Giro d’Italia for the primary time in three years with the only intention of including to his two stage wins as chief of the Jayco-Alula staff.
Matthews has worn the pink chief’s jersey twice, in 2014 and 2015, and has good reminiscences of the race.
He’ll be eager to get again right into a optimistic mindset after a crash cruelled his probabilities on the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
“I’m desirous to get again to racing,” Matthews advised his staff web site after his “rollercoaster” season so far, which included a bout of COVID.
“This 12 months’s course may be very demanding, however there will likely be some good alternatives for me for stage victories and we now have a well-balanced and skilled staff.
“It’s actually motivating to have a barely totally different calendar this 12 months and to return to this nice grand tour.”
Matthews will lead a staff that options two different Australian riders, Michael Hepburn and Callum Scotson.
World champion hoping for back-to-back grand tour wins
Remco Evenepoel has, considerably extremely, gone beneath the radar to begin this season.
A winner of the World Championships in Wollongong final September, sizzling on the heels of his triumph on the Vuelta a España, which may appear fairly odd.
However the begin of this season was dominated by classics riders Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, plus an Eddy Merckx-like run from Tadej Pogačar, who gained 9 of the 19 days of racing he began this 12 months — a run ended by his unlucky damaged wrist at Liège-Bastogne-Liège that robbed the biking world of an exhilarating head-to-head battle with eventual winner Evenepoel.
Evenpoel’s dominant victory at La Doyenne helped remind biking followers that the 23-year-old Belgian stands on the identical stage as van Aert, van der Poel and Pogačar as one of many best-rounded cyclists of the trendy period.
The 23-year-old Belgian now has his sights set on profitable a maiden Giro title, the place he could be the primary to win within the rainbow jersey since Eddy Merckx in 1972.
His participation on the 2020 Giro marked his return from severe damage, though he ended up crashing out of that race on stage 17. This will likely be simply his second participation within the race.
Roglič trying to find a return to glory with an Aussie parachuted in to help
The person many count on to problem Evenepoel is three-time Vuelta winner Primož Roglič — and the 33-year-old Slovenian may have an Aussie as a key lieutenant in his nook.
Rohan Dennis, who is ready to retire on the finish of the season, has come into the Crew Jumbo-Visma squad after COVID dominated out a lot of different star names.
The seven-time grand tour stage winner and two-time world time trial champion will journey in his fourth Giro and, with nearly 70km-worth of time trials, could eye up a sneaky stage win.
Roglič, in the meantime, has had a stellar begin to the season, profitable the general classification on the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya.
He has a third-placed end on the Giro already on his CV, however has failed to complete three of his final 4 grand tour races, hinting at a fragility that was totally absent throughout his peak period. He did win the opposite, although.
Kaden Groves, Jay Vine trying to construct on breakout seasons
Queenslanders Kaden Groves and Jay Vine had breakout seasons final 12 months.
Groves has claimed wins on two levels on the Volta a Catalunya and likewise gained the Volta Limburg Traditional.
Vine gained two levels on the Vuelta, the Esports World Championships on Zwift, the mountains classification on the Étoile de Bessèges and got here second total at each the Excursions of Turkey and Norway.
He backed that up with the general crown on the Tour Down Underneath.
Each will line up as help riders on this 12 months’s Giro, with Vine competing for UAE Crew Emirates and Groves within the blue of Alpecin-Deceuninck.
Though claiming total honours could also be past Vine given the expertise on the high finish of the sphere, there are many mountains within the Giro — 51,400 metres of vertical achieve in actual fact — so a stage win shouldn’t be off the playing cards.
For Groves, he could properly goal any of the eight flat levels and even a few the lumpier ones as properly, rivalling compatriot Matthews for stage wins.
How do I watch the Giro d’Italia?
The Giro begins on Could 6, with protection on SBS On Demand from 9:40pm AEST.
SBS will present all 21 levels of this 12 months’s race, culminating within the remaining stage on Sunday Could 28 in Rome.