Giro d'Italia 2015 Preview
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Saturday marks the start of the first Grand Tour of the 2015 season. The 98th edition of the Giro d'Italia, which covers a total of 3481.8km, presents an interesting course that is sure to mix things up along the way. With a wide array of flat, undulating and mountainous stages for our viewing pleasure, comes an equally wide array of contenders sure to keep us glued to our TV screens for the next three weeks. One candidate that can never be disregarded at a Grand Tour is the formidable Alberto Contador. Aiming to undertake the Giro-Tour double, Contador is entering into this race in fine form. He recently spent a fortnight training at altitude in Tenerife, where he reportedly climbed as many metres as he'll face throughout the entire Giro. Tinkoff-Saxo has assembled a strong team to support him over the next three weeks, including Ivan Basso, Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers, to ensure the Spaniard doesn't lose precious seconds, especially in the opening team time trial. As the only one of the main GC contenders to have won a Grand Tour, it would be hard to bet against Alberto Contador. Arguably, Contador's main contender comes in the form of Australian Richie Porte. Up until recently, the Team Sky rider led the UCI World Tour individual rankings, until Valverde’s dominant display at the Ardennes Classics, proving his consistency so far this season. In previous Grand Tours, Porte’s difficulty has ironically come from his lack of consistency, however, with three overall victories in stage races and multiple stage wins, the Australian is seemingly in the form of his career. With the likes of Mikel Nieve, Vasil Kiryienka and experienced road-captain Bernie Eisel supporting Porte in the mountains, it would be no surprise to see him on the podium in Milano. Last year saw first and second place going to Colombians and this year with the absence of last year’s victor, Quintana, Etixx-Quickstep’s Rigoberto Uran is flying the Colombian flag. Finishing second two years in a row at the Giro d’Italia, he is slowly moving towards ‘nearly-man’ status, however, 2015 has already proved consistent for Uran. In all three stage races he has competed in this year, he has finished in the top five and, unlikely to keep up with the pure climbers, Uran will try to make up any losses during the brutal stage 14 time trial in which he will no doubt excel. Somewhat of a revelation at last year's Giro d'Italia was Astana’s Fabio Aru. Managing to fend off the accomplished likes of Cadel Evans and Ryder Hesjedal, the young Italian climbed his way onto the podium, grasping a stage victory on his way. Although, due to a stomach virus, the 24 year-old’s racing days have been cut short this season making his form questionable. As long as Aru can limit his losses during the stage 14 individual time trial, don’t be surprised if the gifted-climber repeats his successes of last season.
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