Yes, it's truly time for the fabulous Giro, and while the very concept of a "sprinter's Giro" makes me yack, there's still plenty o' mountainous suffering to be had in this gorgeous race, so here's Yer Official Guide to the 2012 Giro:
The Corsa: starts in Denmark, which is bitchin', but is pretty well flat the first week, which blows. Week 2: we start to hit the hills, honey, and begin to tease out out the GC hopefuls from the hopeless. The last week: the high passes at last, including a record-setting altitude-o'-agony on the fearsome Passo Stelvio *after* a same-stage slog up the Mortirolo. The prologue: a twisty, technical 8.7 kilometer time trial to put a bod into pink. Stay upright, boys--you got a looooooong way to go yet from here!
The Fast Men: like I'd care, but Thor, Benna-Jet, Mark Cavendish, and, most of all, heartbroken good-guy Tyler Farrar are there, and frankly, Hushovd better pull *something* off to make BMC forget his Classics. And go Cav--we're only going to see you for a few days anyway!
The Favorites: for the first time in a long time, there really ain't any. But Vuelta god Rodriguez wouldn't mind it, Ivan Basso needs it, and Roman Kreuziger--well, it'd sure've been nice for his beauty rest had Alexander Vinokourov'd not rashly marked him for 21 consecutive 3 a.m. wake-n'-pokes by the narcs by recently bragging a fellow Astana-ite had "won a race like Vino!" My question: without Contador's wheel to aspire to, will Michele Scarponi have the mental and physical wherewithal to take the whole show on his own? Here, an exclusive pic of Frank Schleck after hearing the news of his RadioSkank leadership from Johan Bruyneel:
The Climbers: crying in their Cheerios 'til about stage 8, basically, but thankfully, the Giro organizers haven't totally lameified the route. And while the GC freak out marking each other--Jose Rujano, the queen stage is yours!
And, Yet Another Reason Our Friends Down Under Just Rock: finally, while this has nothing to do with the Giro, it's still surely a sign of something good, as from the Aussie (non-cycling) sports federations comes this plea to warm the hearts of stoners everywhere: since pot doesn't actually *help* performance, please, please, please take it off the banned-substances list! Y'know, moralize all ya want, but it's true--Jan Ullrich once gained 67 pounds during the off-season from attacks of the munchies alone. How the hell else you think Lance kept winning the Tour?
Well, dear reader(s), onwards and (I swear) upwards--here's to the magnificent prize you're shooting for!