4 May 2013

Giro d'Italia Stage 1 Napoli

Today's opening stage is a double loop criterium race. First there are four laps of the blue western loop, which includes a fourth category climb. There it is around the city for eight laps of the pink loop.

None of the GC contenders are going to win the Giro over today's 130km, but if there is a nervy start and the bunch gets jittery on the flatter circuits as they pick up speed to get their sprinter into the Maglia Rosa for the stage tomorrow wheels could touch and a collar bone of any rider even a team leader could break like that, remember Bradley Wiggins fate in the Tour of 2011 before he got to take the other contenders on in the first mountains.

So everyone is going to have to be alert at all times, which means that GC riders and sprinters will all be racing to stay near the front and out of danger, ironically opening the possibility of more danger, as the thread through the city street. Hopefully every rider will complete the day in one piece but watch out the shifting in the peleton going on all the time.

But today should be a stage set for the sprinters. Will Mark Cavendish win his first stage in a grand tour wearing the colours of Omega Pharma Quickstep. If he does he will go into tomorrow's time trail in the Maglia Rosa, but today we shall see which of the teams' sprinters have it in their legs. Even if they do not win it will be a matter of how much each of them ends up doing and also how well organised their  lead out trains can be. There aren't that many out and out sprinters opportunities in the Giro this year so they will all have to start out on form, even traditional late starter Cavendish.

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