Saturday, April 30, 2016

It's Yer Giro d'Italia in Preview, Part Due--the GC Contenders! #Giro

All right, we know where they're going--but who's gonna get there, and who's gonna challenge for overall victory? There's only one who can stand on the top step in Torino--and it's likely to be one of these guys!

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): look, he may've threatened to bail on the race entirely if they pulled any of this "extreme weather protocol"/cancel the mountain stages crap so wilting wussies don't freeze to death or even lose a digit or two to frostbite,the cowards--but "Lo Squalo" knows that with Vinokorouv handing the Tour to upstart Italian fave Fabio Aru, no matter how many Grand Tours he's won or how many sleetstorm's he's powered through to victory, the Giro d'Italia is the only game in town for him this year. So aside from the fact that he's the Italian's hometown favorite, what are his chances? Of whining and complaining every damn day--I'd say a clear 100%. Of winning? Barring disaster, he's my second fave odds-wise for the win, and let's face it, anyone who can pull off the Giro the Vuelta and the Tour, no matter who the hell crashed out before him and enraged him with the implication he mightn't've won 'em all otherwise, ain't stupid. He's also got quite a bangin' squad for a team boss aiming squarely at the Tour, including canny workhorse Michele Scarponi. Forza Nibs--but forza not quite as much as the next guy on the list!

Mikel Landa (Sky): first, shut he hell up, haters. I don't give a crap that he's on Sky and it's not his fault because it's only since no one took me up on my generous offer to crowd-fund Euskaltel that he ever had to switch teams at all and like his other squad was any better, so the fact that he's nested in a snarl of dope-stuffed smirking vipers has absolutely nothing to do with him and let me just enjoy it while it all lasts !@#dammit. And he needs this win, because if he's gonna kick that skeleton freak Froome off the mountainside for the Tour someday, he's gonna need a Giro under his belt to prove he can do it. Of course, the day he starts to time trial like we still miss so bite me Roberto Heras in his last year in the peloton is the day (1) he does show he can win a Grand Tour GC and (2) the narcs start stickin' him full of more needles than a pissed-off porcupine on a big dumb dog. As to his minimal race days and huge wonk of illnesses this season, well, it sure don't seem to be holding him back! Vai Mikeeeeeeeeeeeeel--and Froomey, if you have *any* appreciation for what you did to your own team captain just a few short seasons back, you'll have the sense to watch this race veeeeeeeery carefully!

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): yeah, he creeps me out too. And if he doesn't creep *you* out, frankly, you creep *me* out. He's brilliant, tenacious, unpredictable, and inevitably, catastrophically fragile on at least one miserable !@#$ disaster day he really oughta be cruising on. But by his numbers, and with his honestly disturbing consistency, if he keeps his bonk day to a minimum time loss, he may actually be able to do it. Don't worry--it'll probably just be the podium. If not, I'm fully expecting the heavens to crack open and the hounds of doom to come howling out to devour the Earth--so he wins, well, it was nice knowing ya!

Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale): he's been the runner-up twice, the biggest guns are (and they can all suck it for doing this) prioritizing the Tour, and he's been promised heavier mountain backup than he's ever enjoyed. More, he's sounding super confident, which goes a long way when the legs cause doubts. Win? Nah--but top five? You betcha!

Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo): okay, he's looked a liiiiiiittle shaky the last few rides, and no-one's taking him seriously, but he's actually won this race before, so no matter how unlikely that was, you can't count him out for at least a hell of a fight--and perhaps a Nibs-esque consolation redemption-song stage win--before he cracks for good. And yes, I know you're all rooting for Fabs to take a stage win anyway!

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin): what the !@#$? This guy has no business being anywhere *near* GC on a Grand Tour, much less the Dolomiti-of-Death-stuffed Giro d'Italia. I can't even discuss it. What the !@#$?

Dark Horses: yeah, yeah--Esteban Chaves and Rafal Majka. Who *won't* be entertained watching 'em scare the spandex off Alejandro Valverde on a few key mountain stages before that reverse-aging wingnut dispatches 'em for good? I know *I* will be, so good luck boys!

Well, them's the GC hopes, but it *is* the Giro, and one sketchy descent in a sleetstorm or ill-timed snack break and the whole podium can be shot to hell. So good luck, stay up right--and prepare to bow before Landa in Torino!

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