Okay, so British Cycling's a pack of misogynist !@#holes and misogynist-!@#hole apologists, Vino's Astana boys are a bunch of bidon-wielding goon-thugs, and somebody everybody likes just got popped for a TUE his own team doc failed to ask for that wouldn't've been a violation in the first place. But what's *really* important in cycling? *That's* !@#damn right kids, it's time for the fabulous Giro d'Italia! Oh, sure, Nibali's only riding it because Vino kicked his !@# outta the Tour in favor of that little twerp Aru, Landa needs to build his palmares before he can displace the flailing Froome like Froome did to Wiggo before him, and Valverde's just in it to exhaust himself so he doesn't have to openly bushwhack Nairo at the Tour only to blow the podium anyway, but the Giro is ever more beautiful and thrilling than its also-ran status to the gaudy Tour's hideous yellow glare would suggest, so what to look for in the terrifying precipices and harrowing descents of the Corsa Rosa? This!
The Time Trials: Jaysus, there's 3 of 'em? And they're all individual, none of that touchy-feely kumbaya team bull!@#$. Woe betide the eejit who hasn't sought marginal gains in the wind tunnel this winter! We start the whole shebang off with a 9.8k super-flat time trial through the bitchin'ly named town of Appeldorn to get a warm body into the maglia rosa. Just enough time and distance to stretch the legs and slightly psych out yer rival GC contenders before the horse has even really left the barn! Then, it's a 40k Stage 9 roller through Chianti, and--finally--a straight-uphill mountain time trial to save the dignity (or crush the hopes) of the climbers on Stage 15. Forza Purit--dammit, he's riding the *Tour* for chrissakes, forza Mikeeeeeeeeeeeel!
The Sprint Stages: I'll be honest--it's the Giro, so I barely give a crap about these here, but even without an enraged Robbie McEwen still in the peloton to bite somebody's ear off in the sprint, there's certainly something to be said for a little glory for the fast men, especially those who can make it past the first mountain stage without running crying to their DSes like a toddler who's just had his balloon popped by some jackwagon. And they get 7! Stages 2, 3, 7, 11, 12, 17, and the last chance for eternal fame in the run into Torino. Don't worry boys--if you make it that far, you *might* be able to recover sometime before the end of the season!
The Lumpy Ones: Got a hankering to impress your sponsor with a long breakaway while the GC chill in the pack *and* amp up your asking price for next year? Don't mind a bucket o' flat with just enough heights, descents, and crash-friendly twists'n'turns to freak out the sprinters? Here's yer chances, dreamers, darers, and roleurs! Stage 4, 5, 8, 11, 16, 18. Hmmm, this is primo Philippe Gilbert territory--is he even riding this, or is his busted finger still wired to make a rude gesture at the guy who hit 'im?
The Mountains: *Here* we go, cycling fans, *this* is what the smashing Giro is all about! Only 4 of 'em are named as "high mountain stages," but if you think the other 3 ain't gonna hurt, I want what you're drinking! It takes us 'til Stage 6 for our first summit finish, but we (and hopefully, y'know, the GC contenders) get there, and Stage 10 and the two Cat 1 and Cat 2s in Stage 13 get the blood pumping next. Next, Stage 14 bashes you into the pain cave with the Passo Pordoi, Passo Sella, and Passo Gardena, *then* Passo Campolongo, Passo Giau (which translates literally as "the Pass of Holy f!@#!"), Valparola and--thank God, at last!--the Muro del Gatto. Medic! And that's not all: Stage 19 whacks you right in the middle with the Col d'Agnello, only to let you breathe on the downhill before you realize "crap, I can't believe I let that guy go!" on the finale, and Stage 20 (and I do love a nail-biter of a Giro) will either crown--or dethrone--the final victor in Milan with the Col de Var, la Bonette, and Lombardia, with a right little nipper up to the finish line. Mikeeeeeeeeeeel--don't let that punk Valverde psych you out wee Landa, he's probably already had his catastrophic one-day meltdown by now!
Okay, them's the course of the gentlemen's Giro 2016--next up, yer GC Contenders! Are you tough enough?