The 101st Giro D’Italia has a stellar field starting today in Jerusalem and a much-anticipated showdown between the winners of all three Grand Tours last year, as Tom Dumoulin takes on Chris Froome in what promises to be a fine contest on paper.
Froome – who for the benefit of readers did crash in his recon ahead of the opening time trial in Jerusalem today – has raced lightly to prepare for his audacious bid to take this title after doing the Tour/Vuelta double, especially given that he intends to race the Tour and defence his title afterwards.
His 4th place at the Tour of the Alps shows that plenty is in working order, and a late peak in this Giro will be very useful given that the last four road stages are all crucial, and for those who have paid for the last four summers by backing the Sky man a price of 5/2 will look like a gift. However, the presence of Dumoulin, the world time trial champion and last year’s winner, means he now has the likely spectre of losing time against the clock to one of his main rivals and there’s the presence of two top climbers who can match him.
One of those is Thibaut Pinot, last year’s fourth who is back again for the same route Froome is taking of attempting the double. He disappointed against the clock then for a former French time trial champion but in very other aspect he impressed deeply, and he’s been in fine form this season, taking the Tour of the Alps when he beat the other main contenders here with stage finishes of 4,2,2,4 and 6.
This route is better for him than last year, with the amount of time trialling kilometres reduced from 69.1 in 2017 to 44.2 kilometres this year, and six summit finishes give him a fine chance to show what he can do best, which is climb. A light campaign should serve him well going into the last week and there’s very little downside to backing him each/way with Sky, who have four each/way places.)
The explosive Miguel Angel Lopez brings a ridiculously strong Astana team to the table here and he should be a lot wiser for last yesar’s Vuelta eight where he took two of the toughest stages in great style. He is another who is worth backing each/way if one is so inclined for all that the time trials are a worry for him, more so than Pinot.
Of those outside the leading names, Fabio Aru will find form and is a danger along with Domenico Pozzovivo, both lightweight climbers who will thrive through the race’s middle and last week, but George Bennett, fifth at the Tour of the Alps despite being hit by a car, has a serious three week effort in him and looks a top 5 contender.
So too does Simon Yates, beaten a nose in Paris-Nice before finishing fourth at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. He’s gone well under the radar and can give a run for each/way money.
3 pts each/way Thibaut Pinot (13/2 SkyBet)
1 pt each/way Simon Yates (22/1 SkyBet, 40/1 BetFair)