The Giro d'Italia starts, everyone against Pogacar. And he sets off immediately with a thrilling stage


By John

The hills of Turin, Superga and La Maddalena, promise a start to the Giro d'Italia that is anything but predictable, in the stage that starts today just before 2pm from the Reggia di Venaria. Not a time trial, therefore, but 140 kilometers with a third category climb and a second category. on the eve of the first thrilling arrival, at 1,142 meters in Oropa (Biella). Virtually unanimously there is one predestined to wear the pink jersey on May 26th in Rome: the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who has never done the pink race and would like to take it straight away, to then pair it with the Tour which he has already won twice. «On paper we all start beaten, but three weeks of racing are full of variables and unknowns: we must not miss the opportunities to put Pogacar in difficulty», is the encouragement of Damiano Carusothe last Italian to stand on the podium, second in 2021 at the Giro won by the Colombian Bernal.

The 38-year-old Brit will also try to blow the prediction, despite knowing that it will be tough Geraint Thomas, second last year behind the Slovenian Roglic; even the French will attempt the 'impossible' feat Romain Bardetthe Australian Ben O'Connor. There are just over 40 Italians competing, including among them Domenico Pozzovivo, in his eighteenth (and last) Giro. At 41 years old she is the mother hen for the youngsters of Bardiani, the only all-Italian team, which focuses on Giulio Pellizzari and Alessandro Tonelli. «Three weeks of racing is a long time, but I'm calm – Pellizzari says – I'll think about the general classification in a couple of years, I want to experience the Giro stage by stage, trying to do something good». And if Pogacar would prefer to remain under the radar in the debut stage, there are those who would like to immediately make a splash. Among these Filippo Ganna: «On paper – says the hour record holder – the Venaria-Turin is not very difficult, but then it can happen that even a 2% gradient causes problems… However, I am ready, focused on the Giro, at I'll think about the Olympics later when the time comes.” Another Giro debutant, the Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, has his sights set on the first pink jersey: «The debut stage suits me, we discovered it yesterday while doing a reconnaissance by car, I like the track, I will try to win also because the the next day's stage, with the arrival in Oropa, is too hard for my characteristics.”

For the sprinters the first opportunity should come in the third stage, the last one entirely in Piedmont, from Novara to Fossano (Cuneo): «At this Giro – says the Belgian Tim Merlier, Alaphilippe's teammate – there are many sprinters, so I will have many rivals and the start of the race is difficult.” The curtain rises, therefore, on the 107th edition of the pink race: «The hope is that it will be a great battle, an open challenge, the Giro is always much loved, we will take the story of it on a world tour to convince more and more televisions to broadcast it – explains Paolo Bellino, managing director of Rcs sport – and this year, in addition to the novelty of the 'Fantagirò, there will be new graphics, which will involve all 500 municipalities crossed by the race and data on the runners regarding power, speed and advantage.”