UAE Team Emirates hunting Giro d’Italia stage victories with Fernando Gaviria

Sport360 staff 19:06 08/05/2019
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Fernando Gaviria won four stages on his debut at the Giro two years ago.

UAE Team Emirates will be hunting stage victories at the Giro d’Italia as Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria tops the line-up of riders looking for success at the opening Grand Tour of the season.

Despite only one previous appearance at Italy’s most famous stage race, Gaviria already has four stage wins under his belt – all picked up in his debut Giro two years ago. It was a race to remember for the youngster, who went on to pick up the Maglia Ciclamino (Points jersey) while at Etixx-Quick-Step (now Deceuninck-Quick-Step).

He will be hopeful of a repeat performance and will count on the support of team-mates Diego Ulissi, Jan Polanc, Juan Sebastian Molano, Simone Consonni, Tom Bohli, Marco Marcato and Valerio Conti.

Whilst Molano and Bohli make their race debuts, there’s plenty of experience in the ranks too. Ulissi has six stage wins at the Giro, while Polanc has two, making this a well-rounded group looking to compete for stage honours.

Commenting ahead of the race, which starts on Saturday in Bologna, UAE Team Emirates general manager Matxin Joxean Fernandez said: “Not being able to count on one man for the general classification, we had to come up with a group to very competitive for the sprints and the hunt for stages wins.

“The goal is to be aggressive, attacking, to try to be protagonists both with our group of fast cyclists supporting Gaviria and with cyclists who have always come up with excellent performances in the Giro: Ulissi, Polanc and Conti.

“We know the stages well, we love the spirit that comes with the Giro, and we are ready to do our best.”

Chris Froome is the defending Giro champion.

Chris Froome is the defending Giro champion.

The Giro – which along with the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana make up cycling’s Triple Crown – will see the peloton tackle 21 stages across three weeks of intense cycling, taking in a range of parcours including sprint, hilly and mountain stages.

The opening stage is an 8km individual time trial (ITT) and should set us up nicely for what to expect over the coming weeks. Stage 2 sets off from Bologna to the Tuscan town of Fucecchio, where the sprinters can look to take advantage of the flat finish.

Stage 3 will see riders depart Vinci, birth place of legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci, in what will be another opportunity for sprinters to take the spoils. The fourth stage is a hilly 228km route from Orbetello to Frascati and spectators can expect a punchy finale to the stage as riders battle the uphill finish.

Meanwhile, Stage 5 will be another opportunity for the fast men to show their speed, with a 35km flat line to the finish. Stage 6 is a rolling course, where the all-rounders will compete for the stage win; particularly given there is a difficult 15km climb that is peaked just 10km from the finish.

While not a proper mountain stage, Stage 7 could still prove to be a test for any of the out and out sprinters, with gradual inclines from the half way point until the finish in L’Aquila.

Stage 8 will be another sprint thriller, with a 235km route from Tortoreto Lido to Pesaro. The peloton will close week one with the Giro’s second ITT; a 34.7km route that finishes in San Marino.

Following the first rest day, riders climb back onto their bikes and will take on two completely flat stages before they head into the mountains for Stage 12. While not the hardest of mountain stages, it will give the riders a first taste of the Alps and get their legs prepared for what’s to come; with relentless climbs on Stage 13, climaxing with a daunting summit finish ending in Ceresole Reale that should challenge even the best climbers.

Stage 14 will throw four intermediate climbs at the peloton, before a punchy uphill finish in the ski resort of Courmayeur. Any riders who suffered in the early mountain stages will welcome Stage 15.

At 237km, it isn’t the shortest route, but a reasonably flat opening 145km will give riders the chance to stretch their legs, before tackling a handful of smaller climbs with a short downhill finish into the town of Como.

Riders will gather their thoughts on the second rest day, before heading back to the mountains for Stage 16. It’s uphill from the off, with the peloton taking on four climbs across the 226km route, before a prolonged false flat finish in Ponte di Legno.

There’s another four climbs to battle on Stage 17 and it’s here where the General Classification (GC) standings traditionally start to take shape. Stage 18 will be a rare opportunity for the sprinters to pick up the race win, while Stage 19 once again trails through the mountains and ends with a steady 13.6km climb to San Martino Di Castrozza.

If the GC isn’t wrapped up by Stage 19, then spectators will be in for a thrilling penultimate mountain stage. The 20th stage of the Giro is a climbers dream and a sprinters nightmare.

With three intense inclines – Cima Campo (18km at 6 per cent), Passo Manghen (18.9km at 7.6 per cent) and Passo Rolle (20.6 km at 4.7 per cent) – coming in the opening 140km, we can expect ferocious attacks and aggressive riding from the off, with an exhilarating final haul up to Monte Avena.

The GC winner will be crowned the following day in Verona, following the final ITT.

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