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5 reasons this year's Giro d'Italia will be better than 2015

Josh Cunningham
4 May 2016

While the 2015 Giro had its enthralling moments, we reckon there's a chance that this year will be better. Here's why.

1. The route isn't as mountainous as usual

While we love a good mountain stage as much as anyone else, it is no secret that Giro organiser is known to have been a little too liberal with the amount of climbing it has imparted on route profiles in the past. 

2016 however, despite retaining a respectable five or six (depending on one's definition) uphill finishes, seems to have a more egalitarian approach, with sprint stages coming in abundancy, as well as two flat individual time trials, and one mountain TT. 

Too much climbing in a three week race can make for dull racing, with riders taking a cautious - and potentially intimidated - approach to stages, or the GC competition being decided prematurely. The current spread, we think, while still providing a test, isn't overly dominant on the route profile, and could end up making these decisive stages more eventful. 

Giro d'Italia 2016 route profile

2. Less chance of weather stopping play

The Giro is famous for the weather that is sometimes bestowed upon it by the mountain gods, with Andy Hampsten's efforts of yester-year being a timeless example. The 2013 Giro, which was won by Vincenzo Nibali, was hampered by unseasonably bad weather, even for Giro standards, and resulted in stage cancellations and course re-routings. A stage in 2014 was supposedly neutralised mid-way through, but there was confusion amid the snow high up on the Stelvio, and little light was shed on what actually happened during the stage that Nairo Quintana eventually won. 

Since then though, the UCI Extreme Weather Protocol has been introduced, and was employed in the cancellation of a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico this year. Vincenzo Nibali's subsequent concern was that if he couldn't depend upon Giro summit finishes being contested, regardless of the weather, why should he risk riding the race? 

Perhaps using some foresight, and its past experience of having been stung, the Giro organisers at RCS Sport have perhaps modified the route to decrease the chances of the UCI's Protocol to be enforced. There's now fewer high-altitude summit finishes, and there's been intense efforts to clear - and keep cleared - the race's highest passes, the 2,715m Col de la Bonette and 2,744m Colle d'Agnello. 

Video: Cafe du Cycliste witness the clearing of the Bonette. 

3. There's no outright favourite

While the 2016 Giro startlist packs a punch in the names that it holds, there is no outright favourite to storm the GC classification. Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali have won the 2015, 2014 and 2013 editions respectively in quite dominating fashions, but two of this trio are absent in 2016, and the last, Nibali, hasn't been enjoying the same results that preceded his win in 2013.

Alejandro Valverde has had a Valverde-esque spring, with wins throughout, and is targeting GC at the Giro, while Mikel Landa of Team Sky will be looking to back up his strong showing last year. Along with Nibali, these are probably the three biggest contenders, but the likes of Tom Dumoulin, Ryder Hesjedal, Rafal Majka, Steven Kruiswijk and Rigoberto Uran will all be out to get their piece of the pie too.

4. The Colombians are coming (again)

As well as Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep), there will be further Colombian presence in the form of Esteban Chaves (Orica Greenedge) and Carlos Betancur (Movistar). The latter, after a promising spell in his early AG2r years, has been notoriously out of sorts, and shape, in recent years, but the former Paris-Nice winner has leaned up, and strong performances this year have excited many.

Esteban Chaves comes to the Giro as team leader, and after winning two stages and placing fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana at the tail end of last year, will be eager to improve once more.

5. There's a 'cronoscalata'

Sorry, an uphill time-trial, but doesn't it sound better in Italian? While road stages are great and all, there's an exciting novelty about the intensely packed route, steep gradients, and decisive nature of a mountain time trial.

2016 is one of those years, and on stage 15 to Alpi di Suisi the riders will be subject to 11km of uphill hell, for everyone else's pleasure.

Read more about the Giro in our history of the Maglia Rosa here.

See more pictures from the Giro in our 'Off the bike at the Giro' gallery here.

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