Giro d'Italia 2018: We preview the Tour of Italy and assess Chris Froome's chances
Last Updated: 10/05/18 4:11pm
The 2018 Giro d'Italia will be the first Grand Tour to start outside of Europe when the riders roll out for the 101st edition of the race in Jerusalem on Friday.
Chris Froome will be in that peloton, with ambitions of becoming just the third rider in history to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time.
Here, we take a look at the 3,546km route and the riders who stand in his way...
Froome followed last year's fourth Tour de France win with a superb Vuelta victory, becoming the first rider to win those races back to back in the modern era and goes into this race with his 2018 form on the rise.
However, an adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol in his system during the Tour of Spain is still under investigation and could prove a distraction.
On the road Froome's main rival will be Dutch defending champion Tom Dumoulin, who saw off Nairo Quintana with a mix of time trial brilliance and gutsy, measured mountain rides in last year's race.
The world time trial champion will be a big threat again here, but indifferent 2018 results and fewer time trial kilometres raise questions.
Italian Fabio Aru, who has twice finished on the podium at the Giro, leads the contingent of pure climbers aiming for the pink jersey.
As well as the 2015 Vuelta winner, explosive Miguel Angel Lopez, in-form Thibaut Pinot and exciting Mitchelton-Scott youngsters Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates will be ones to watch in the many mountain stages.
THE KEY STAGES
Stage 6: The riders will have an early test of their climbing legs on stage six of this year's race, when a hilly stage on Sicily finishes with the first of eight summit finishes up Mount Etna. It won't be decisive but it is likely to give a good indication of who is going well and who could make a mark in the weeks ahead.
Stage 14: Week two concludes with consecutive mountain stages - the first of which finishes on the mighty Monte Zoncolan, where big time gaps between the contenders is almost guaranteed. The 22 per cent gradients, coming at the end of a mammoth stage of climbing, will reduce riders to walking pace, where even the smallest of differences in power will equal substantial time gains or losses.
Stage 16: While the Giro kicks off with a 9.7km opening stage time trial, it will be the 34.5km test against the clock on stage 16 which could be a crucial moment in this year's edition. It will be on this rolling route through the Lagarina Valley to Rovereto where Froome and Dumoulin will aim to put significant time into their rivals - and each other.
Stage 19: As well as the Zoncolan, the other stand out climb on this year's Giro is the ascent up the gravel roads of the Colle delle Finestre. But the uneven surface and steep ramps will be a leg-softener - or launch pad - for riders ahead of the final haul up to the Jafferau ski station. Coming two days before the final stage in Rome, this stage will undoubtedly see riders on the assault, attempting to reel in rivals or protect their position on the general classification.
The pink jersey: general classification
The blue jersey: mountains classification
The white jersey: best young rider
The cyclamen jersey: points classification
Ag2r-La Mondiale (Fra)
BMC Racing (US)
EF Education First-Drapac (US)
Dimension Data (SA)
Lotto NL-Jumbo (Hol)
Quick-Step Floors (Bel)
Team Sky (GB)
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec (Ita)
Israel Cycling Academy (Isl)
Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia (Ita)
THE PAST WINNERS
- 2017: Tom Dumoulin (Ned)
- 2016: Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
- 2015: Alberto Contador (Spa)
- 2014: Nairo Quintana (Col)
- 2013: Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
- 2012: Ryder Hesjedal (Can)
- 2011: Michele Scarponi (Ita)
- 2010: Ivan Basso (Ita)
- 2009: Denis Menchov (Rus)
- 2008: Alberto Contador (Spa)
- 2007: Danilo Di Luca (Ita)