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21 April 2017

THE RIDERS TO WATCH AT THE GIRO 100: THE SPRINTERS

The fastest wheels of the sprinters are expected to make the headlines after the first stage, which runs from Alghero to Olbia, where the anticipated final bunch sprint will decide the winner who will be rewarded with the first Maglia Rosa of the Giro 100.

Stage three, also in Sardinia with its finish in Cagliari, is the next stage set to favour the sprinters. The other stages most likely to be decided by the sprinters are: stage 5, with its finish in Messina; stage 7, from Castrovillari to Alberobello; stage 12, from Forlì to Reggio Emilia; and stage 13, with its finish in Tortona.

Fernando Gaviria (COL – Quick Step Floors). One of the most impressive up and coming sprinters according to the way he outclassed World Champion Peter Sagan in stage 6 of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico. The 22-year-old Gaviria returned to Colombia to prepare for the Giro d’Italia, his first ever Grand Tour, following a fifth-place finish at Milano-Sanremo and ninth in the Gent-Wevelgem. Talking about the Giro 100, Fernando Gaviria said: “I am honoured to be at the start of the Giro in such a special occasion. It is my first three-week race, I could have not imagined a better debut in a Grand Tour than the 100th edition of the Giro: it is going to be a special moment. My main objective is to learn from such a challenging race. Every day it will be a new experience, especially in the second and in the third weeks. I would like to arrive in Milan, finishing and honouring this race. I will try to fight in the stages that better suits my characteristics, but I know it will be difficult given the high level of riders at the start of the Giro. I know I can count on an experienced team in this kind of race, this makes me fell more confident ahead of this important debut.”

 

Caleb Ewan (AUS – Orica-Scott). When he outsprinted the dominant trio of Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel and André Greipel on stage 4 of February’s Abu Dhabi Tour, 22-year-old Caleb Ewan confirmed that he is ready to step up to the top level. A year ago, during his first participation in the Giro d’Italia, the Australian finished second behind Greipel on stage 12.

André Greipel (GER – Lotto-Soudal). With 139 pro wins, “the Gorilla” is one of the most prolific cyclists of his era, with six of those victories having been earned in the Giro d’Italia. Finishing seventh in this year’s Paris-Roubaix, the German national champion demonstrated that he’s by no means declining at the age of 34.

Andre Greipel said:I’m happy to return to the Giro, last year I won three stages and I have very fond memories of the race. Anyway I need to be realistic: winning a stage in a Grand Tour is already a great performance and this is my goal for Giro 100. It has been a hard spring for me with many stage races such as Abu Dhabi, Paris-Nice, Catalunya and several cobblestone classics, culminating with the Roubaix. I’ve taken a week off after, starting training specifically for the Giro after one week of complete rest. I expect to need a few days of racing before my legs will get better, more or less the same as I’ve done last year.”

Elia Viviani (ITA – Team Sky). The Olympic omnium champion has recorded no fewer than seven second place finishes so far during the 2017 road season but he’s yet to reach the top step this year. A stage 2 win at the 2015 Giro d’Italia is on the 28-year-old’s palmares but he’s hungry for more on home soil.

Elia Viviani said: “For any Italian rider a stage win at the Giro is a dream. The fact this year is the 100th edition of the race makes it even more special. For sure the history and this being the 100th edition is added motivation for everyone. If I am selected for the Giro I think I can win some stages and obviously the points jersey would be a big goal. This year the first stage is one for the sprinters and to win that is a big dream for me.”

Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA – Trek-Segafredo). The winner of the points classification at the previous two editions of the Giro d’Italia is expected to be fresh in defence of his title as he’s recovered from a tendonitis that seriously hampered the first part of his 2017 season. After five races this year, Nizzolo is yet to record a stage win but his motivation is huge even if his form may be relatively unknown.

Giacomo Nizzolo said: “Unfortunately this Giro will be different to the previous ones because I obviously don’t have the condition of the last years. But anyway this Giro will be very big emotionally because it is the 100th edition and to ride it with the Italian champion’s jersey on my shoulders it will be a great feeling and great emotion. Regarding the performance side I will have to take it day by day but it goes without saying that I hope to make a great result.”

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