May 6th marks the start of the first Grand Tour this season, with the 105th edition of Giro d’Italia starting from Budapest, Hungary. The 21 stage race will cover a total of 3,445.6km and 50,580 vertical metres before finishing in Verona, Italy.
Bahrain Victorious will be looking to go one better than last year, where Damiano Caruso battled to second in GC after losing Mikel Landa in an early crash. This year, Mikel will be hoping for better fortunes after showing strong form at Tirreno and Tour of Alps: “I feel really good for this Giro again, and after the crash last year, I’ve got a new opportunity, and I’m feeling super good and confident. I’ve got a super team around me, and my last races have been really positive, and I think everything has gone to plan in the lead up to the race.”
Landa will have the support of fellow basque rider and UAE Tour podium finisher Pello Bilbao, Ruta del Sol winner Wout Poels and Saudi Tour stage winner Santiago Buitrago in the high mountains. Alongside them will be Slovenian TT Champion Jan Tratnik and Domen Novak looking to support the race’s tricky flat and hilly sections. Finally, Jasha Sütterlin will lead Phil Bauhaus in the sprints, with Bauhaus looking to add to his success in Hungary, where he won two stages at Tour de Hongrie last season.
Sports Director Gorazd Štangelj shares his thoughts on the upcoming Giro: “We come into this year’s Giro looking for victory in the GC as the primary goal. However, we want to be active throughout this Giro and look for opportunities for potential stage wins in the sprints and breakaways.
We start in Hungary with a potential sprint stage with a limited bunch, then the individual time trial and finally a sprint stage before moving to Sicily. We are hoping to come out of Hungary without losing time in GC and a good result by Bauhaus on the sprint stages and Jan, our TT specialist.
I would say this year’s route has more than a few difficult stages. From the first to the last week, there is no standout week that I could say is the hardest. Every week will have its challenges.
Overall, we’ve got a really balanced team for flat, hilly and high mountain stages, which is a requirement for this edition of the race as there are a few tricky flat stages, while you can do a great job in the high mountains if you have the numbers.”
— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com