AP Images

Froome coy about Giro defense as 2019 route revealed

Leave a comment

MILAN — Chris Froome could have another attempt at winning both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France as the British rider has not ruled out the possibility of defending the title he secured in Rome this year.

Next year’s Giro features three individual time trials and seven summit finishes in a balanced but testing route which ramps up into what Froome termed a “brutal, brutal second half to the race.”

Froome was present at a televised ceremony in Milan on Wednesday as organizers unveiled the route of the 2019 Giro d’Italia.

The 102nd edition of the race runs from May 11-June 2 and consists of 21 days of racing, totaling 3,518.5 kilometers (2,186.4 miles) between the start in Bologna and the finish in Verona.

There is also 46,500 meters of vertical elevation, in what organizers have called “one of the hardest courses in recent years.”

Here are some aspects of the 2019 race:

WILL HE, WONT’T HE

Froome remained coy on his chances of competing in next year’s Giro, saying he will decide with Team Sky in December.

This year’s victory came in only his third time competing in the race, and his first since 2010.

“I’ve got to say it really is tempting looking at it,” Froome said. “It’s an epic race and having won it this year it would certainly be difficult to watch it on TV and not be there next year.

“I would like to return to Italy but that’s not my decision.”

Froome attempted the Giro-Tour double this year, but his incredible come-from-behind victory in Italy cost him dearly as he finished third in France, behind teammate Geraint Thomas and Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin.

He had won the three previous editions of the Tour.

“As I saw this year it’s very difficult to do both, it’s not impossible but it’s very difficult … I wasn’t that far this year,” Froome said.

Froome has won two Grand Tours in a year, having won both the Tour and the Spanish Vuelta last year. When he went on to secure the Giro title, he became only the third cyclist to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time.

“I’ve never won Giro and Tour, that remains my objective,” the 33-year-old Froome said.

ITALIAN STYLE

After this year’s big start in Israel, the 2019 Giro will stay almost entirely in Italy.

The race will cross into another country just once – and briefly at that – as it visits the republic of San Marino for the uphill finish of the ninth stage time trial.

Next year’s Giro starts in Bologna with an 8.2-kilometer individual time trial, which is mainly flat before ending in a steep climb up to the Sanctuary of San Luca.

“It goes up a wall of a climb to kick the race off in quite a spectacular way,” Froome said.

SECOND-HALF FIREWORKS

Five of the six low difficulty stages fall in the first half of the race, with three in the first week.

There is just one suitable stage for the sprinters in the final week and three high difficulty stages.

“It’s got a brutal, brutal second half to the race,” Froome said. “Starts off lulling people into a little bit of a false sense of security in how easy it is in the first week.

“Into the second half of the race it’s just brutal, massive mountains, very high altitudes as well for that time of year so I can see some pretty bitterly cold stages as well … Giro d’Italia is one of those races that really is decided in that final week.”

The final week starts with a bang as stage 16 is a long, testing Alpine leg of 226 kilometers with 5,700 meters of climbing.

The riders will face the Presolana Pass, the Croce di Salven Pass, the Gavia Pass – the highest point of this edition – and the Mortirolo Pass from the hardest side of Mazzo di Valtellina.

“This stage is enormous, it’s the stage where you will see the difference between men and boys,” Froome said.

The toughest stage of this year’s race could come toward the end of the second week. The 14th stage is a short but intense leg, with 4,000 meters of climbing packed into 131 kilometers from Saint Vincent to Courmayeur.

There are four steep climbs in quick succession before the final ascent up to the foot of the Monte Bianco Skyway.

That comes before the race’s longest leg: 237 kilometers from Ivrea to Como.

TRIBUTES

A number of important social and cultural references will be made over the course.

Stage seven finishes in L’Aquila, where the Giro will commemorate ten years since the earthquake that devastated the city and its surroundings in 2009.

The Giro will also remember people that have impacted Italy’s history.

The third stage will start from the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, 500 years after his death. Stage eight finishes finish in Pesaro, the birthplace of the composer Gioacchino Rossini.

Giro d’Italia to start in Hungary next year

AP Photo
Leave a comment

BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Giro d’Italia will start in Hungary next year.

The prelude stage will take place in Budapest, followed by two further stages on Hungarian soil.

Giro d’Italia organizers made the announcement on Tuesday at the Italian Cultural Institute in Budapest.

It will be the Grand Tour’s 14th start outside of Italy, with the most recent being in Israel last year.

This year’s Giro d’Italia will begin in Bologna on May 11 and conclude in Verona on June 2.

Gilbert beats Politt to win Paris-Roubaix

Leave a comment

ROUBAIX, France — Veteran cyclist Philippe Gilbert beat German rider Nils Politt right at the end of Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix race to win it for the first time.

Gilbert strategically placed himself behind the 24-year-old Politt, and then attacked him down the left to win by about a length after nearly six hours of riding. Belgian rider Yves Lampaert finished in third.

The race is one of cycling’s five high-profile classics, along with the Tour of Flanders, Milan-San Remo, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia. The 36-year-old Gilbert, a former world road race champion, has won all except Milan-San Remo.

“I still have this dream to win all them. Little by little I’m getting there,” an elated Gilbert said afterward. “Politt’s very courageous. In the end the best rider won, and thankfully it was me.”

Last year’s Paris-Roubaix winner Peter Sagan joined Gilbert and Politt near the front with about 20 kilometers left. But Sagan dropped off, leaving Gilbert and Politt to contest victory as they reached the Roubaix velodrome in northern France.

Paris-Roubaix is known as the Queen of the Classics because it is the most prestigious of the five, which are otherwise known as “monuments” of cycling.

But the grueling and dangerous 257-kilometer trek is also known as the “Hell of the North,” because of its treacherous profile including more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) of cobblestones spread out over 29 sectors.

“A lot of people said cobblestones aren’t for me. But I’ve won Tour of Flanders and now I’ve won here,” Gilbert said. “I rode a good race tactically.”

Belgian cyclist Tiesj Benoot crashed into the back of a Jumbo-Visma team car near the end of Sunday’s race, smashing the back window completely. He was taken to hospital but his injuries were not immediately known.

Last year’s Paris-Roubaix was overshadowed by the death of Belgian rider Michael Goolaerts, following a crash.