Yip that’s right, less than a week to go before the first cycling Grand Tour of 2018 kicks off! Shucks it’s exciting. Can you tell that I am bit of a cycling nerd?

Here’s a quick review of what you need to know before 4 May – a look at the favourites to take the title, a breakdown of the route and why this Giro is one for the history books.

If you were betting and trying to pick a winner for the #Giro101, here are some of riders that you should have on your radar.

  • Chris Froome: While there are still questions around his suspicious in-competition doping tests, he is definitely one of the favourites. His confidence will be high off the back of his wins at the Tour de France and Vuelta España in 2018, combined with the strong team that has been selected to support him. He is sure to give it a good go!
  • Fabio Aru: The hopes of an Italian victory in this year’s Giro sit firmly on his shoulders. He is no stranger to this race or the pressure. He leads his new team, UAE Team Emirates, and will be hoping to go one better than his 2015 Giro performance. Certainly, don’t count this fighter out; he could definitely swing a surprise our way.
  • The two-pronged approach from Michelton-Scott will see a shared leadership role from Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates. Chaves lost the race on the penultimate day in 2016 and will be looking to use the lessons learnt as he challenges for the top step. Yates, a talented young gun with strong performances in other Grand Tours, will be riding the Giro for the first time and definitely has the potential to be racing at the sharp end of things.
  • Louis Meintjes: The young South African will lead the charge for Africa’s team, Dimension Data. Louis is a promising talent (he has serious legs in the high mountains) and has produced a few top results at the Tour de France over the past two seasons. It’s going to be interesting to see his leadership capabilities and how the team will perform around him.
  • Tom Dumoulin—there was speculation in the early stages of the season that Dumoulin may skip the chance to defend his Giro title and throw everything at the Tour de France in an attempt to derail the dominance of team Sky. But we are glad to see that Dumoulin will be back at the Giro in 2018 and has a strong team at his side. Will the Dutchman continue to surprise us with his new found climbing form and be a serious contender for the #Giro101 crown?

Those are some of our favourites. A quick reminder that teams will now only feature eight riders and not nine, as per the new ruling released by UCI at the end of 2017. The UCI introduced this regulation for the safety of the riders and the whole race in general, the peleton will now consist of 176 riders.

What does this year’s Giro have in store?

It’s the first time that any stage of a Grand Tour has ventured outside of the European borders, an historic day for the Giro and cycling in general! The first stage, an individual time trial, of this 101st edition of the Giro, will take place in Jerusalem. The #Giro101 has 21 stages and three rest days, culminating on 27 May… that’s a long time to race a bicycle! (Remember, it starts on 4 May.)

The race for general classification honours will be won in the mountains. There are eight mountain top finishes. Let’s hope that all of the GC favourites have packed their climbing legs as we are all hoping for real fireworks in the high mountains.

The Giro in numbers

Here are some numbers for you to wrap your head around:

  • 3.562.9 – total number of kilometres on the route
  • 169.7 – average number of kilometres covered per day
  • 2 – individual time trials
  • 7 – stages for the sprinters
  • 8 – mountain top finishes

If you want to know more about the route, you can visit the official Giro d’Italia website or bug me!

There’s lots to look forward to in the final stages of the build-up to the start on 4 May. Keep a look out on social media, Sundays Insurance and Velosure will be keeping up to date with the latest developments in the build up and during #Giro101.

Just maybe (I remain hopeful) some of my Giro madness will convert a few people to try riding a bicycle!