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When it was announced that 25 year old American Tejay van Garderen not Evans, the 2011 Tour de France champion lead BMC in France this July, it was viewed by some as a bit of a demotion for the 37 year old Australian following his poor performance in the French Grand Tour last year. But many forget that Evans finished third overall at Nike Jackets Red And Blue
Ireland literally painted itself pink to welcome the start of this year Giro d tractors, electrical towers, even sheep. And while the Emerald Isle has some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere in Northern Europe, the rainy weather made it hard to appreciate least for fans watching the race on TV or even worse, via grainy live feeds. Let hope that the hospitality of the Irish is enough to convince ASO to bring the start of the Tour de France back here sometime soon. Ever see a yellow sheep? We might very soon.
After winning a stage at the Tour Down Under and Italy GP Camaiore earlier in the season, Ulissi was expected to be a major contender at April Ardennes Classics. But the 24 year old Italian failed to make a major dent in the hilly one day races. With two hilltop stage wins so far at this year Giro, however, Ulissi is once again one of the hottest young riders in the sport. His success couldn have come at a better time for his Lampre Merida team: American Chris Horner didn start the Giro after a training accident, and charismatic Italian Filippo Pozzato was left off the team roster. But Ulissi has stepped up quite nicely to Crop Top Nike Sweater
give Lampre Merida Italy to cheer for.
last year Giro d making him the logical choice to lead the team at the Italian Grand Tour and perhaps add another three week stage race victory to his resume. So far, so good: The Aussie leads the GC by almost a minute and is the only GC contender who has kept himself upright during the race crash filled first week. If he adds to his lead in Thursday Barolo time trial (and he probably will), he could prove too much to overpower once the race enters the Alps and the Dolomites.
No one really talks about Ivan Basso anymore. He overshadowed on his Cannondale Pro Cycling team by Peter Sagan and in Italy by Vincenzo Nibali, his former teammate and his nation greatest Grand Tour contender. But flying under the radar may be just what the dottore ordered (although in Basso case, that might not be the best idiom), as he been left alone to ride a relatively trouble and pressure free first week. He currently sits 11th overall, 2:01 behind Evans. But while the maglia rosa might be a bit of stretch, the 36 year old sits only 1:04 out of second place and is as experienced as anyone when it comes to racing in the Alps and the Dolomites. If he can hold his own in Barolo, expect him to start climbing up the GC to a possible podium finish.
Rodriguez came into the season with two goals: the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d But April and May have proven to be the cruelest months of Rodriguez career. First, his Ardennes campaign was ruined by crashes in the Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne. Then his Katusha squad started the Giro by losing more than a minute to the other GC contenders. Purito was dealt his final blow in the crash at the end of Stage 6, a fall that broke three of his ribs. He back in Spain recuperating now and setting his sights on winning the Tour of Spain in September he decides to race the Tour de France first.
Ivan Basso (Cannondale Pro Cycling)
Marcel Kittel (Team Giant Shimano)
Kittel took the Giro opening weekend by storm, winning Stages 2 and 3 in dominating fashion. Unfortunately, a fever sent him home early, a precaution taken by his team to protect the German health ahead of July Tour de France. Still, one has to wonder if his team were perhaps too cautious in telling the star sprinter to pack his bags. Racers get sick quite often during the course of a three week stage race, Nike Women's Jacket White
After finishing second in last year Tour de France, Quintana came to this year Giro to win. But his Movistar team lost 48 seconds to BMC and Cadel Evans on Stage 1, and the Colombian was one of several riders to lose time (in his case, 49 seconds) to Evans on Monte Cassino. But of all the riders currently more than a minute behind Evans and the maglia rosa, Quintana is perhaps the only one able to make up huge amounts of time once the race hits the high mountains of the Alps and the Dolomites. He possesses an uphill acceleration few can match, and he the rider Evans will be watching the closest in the Giro difficult final week.
2014 Giro d'Italia Contenders
and as a rider not worried about high overall finish, Kittel could have afforded to take a few days to recover while still racing. With several flat stages still to come, he might have won even more stages had he recovered in time.
The American team came into this year Giro with two captains: 2012 Giro champ Ryder Hesjedal and 2012 Liege Bastogne Liege and 2013 Tour de France stage winner Dan Martin. But the team GC plans disappeared in an instant when Martin, Koldo Fernandez, Andre Cardoso, and Nathan Haas crashed during the team time trial on Stage 1. Fernandez and Martin were forced to abandon immediately with broken collarbones. As for Hesjedal, the crash cost him and the rest of the team valuable time finished 3:26 behind stage winner Orica GreenEdge and 3:19 behind BMC. Crashes are a part of racing, but had this one not occurred, Hesjedal could be fourth overall following Stage 9 and right in the hunt for a podium finish. Instead, he currently sitting in 17th and in need of a fantastic final two weeks just to finish inside the top 10.
Even before Pieter Weening won Sunday Stage 9, the Australian WorldTour squad could already consider its 2014 Giro d a Nike Sb Jacket White success. So far, the team has won three of the Giro nine stages and spent seven days in the maglia rosa leader jersey. The team followed the same script from last year Tour de France: Take the leader jersey by winning the team time trial, then rely on its talented sprinters to protect it. In this case, Michael Matthews was the perfect rider to hold the jersey. An all arounder who can handle himself on more challenging stage finales, Matthews was able to hang with the leaders on Stage 5 uphill finish, then win the next day sprint atop the Cat 2 climb to Monte Cassino. And with Weening well down the GC and therefore less of a threat to the Giro GC contenders, he in the perfect position to win again.
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