The opening prologue is going to be a showdown between two men. One will win, and will it comes a few days in the maglia rosa.
The Giro d’Italia kicks off this Saturday, May 5, with a short and tough prologue in Denmark. The Danish fans lining the roads will be in for a treat on day one as BMC’s American prodigy Taylor Phinney goes for a Grand Tour stage win. But, he’ll be up against one of the most on-form TT men on the planet right now in Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas.
Thomas took the Tour of Romandie Prologue a day before teammate Brad Wiggins won the first stage on the road. Thomas is riding on his track legs, left over from a winter spent training for the team and individual events at the track world championships in Melbourne. Thomas’ Great Britain squad won gold and broke a world record in the process in the team pursuit, and it was Thomas himself that took the pull on the final two laps that brought them from a slight deficit to Australia to a win and WR. Thomas’ Giro appearance will be one of the last road events before he ducks back onto the track to prepare for the London Olympic Games in August. He’ll skip the Tour de France, and his SKY team will hope for results in Italy from the Welshman.
Taylor Phinney was outstanding at the Giro del Trentino, including wearing the leader’s jersey. Phinney bears the weight of being labeled the next Lance Armstrong early in his career. The claims were inaccurate; Phinney is never going to win a Grand Tour. He is too big to climb and hasn’t shown great consistency in stage races since the beginning of his career, but he’ll have many other opportunities in the Classics and one-day races. For the Giro, he’ll be around to win the prologue, challenge in the time trials, and protect Alessandro Ballan for stage wins or Marco Pinotti for a high GC spot.
For Thomas, it’s going to be a similar Giro. After the prologue, he’ll be in the service of Mark Cavendish and the Sky train as they target as many sprint finishes as possible. Thomas likely won’t challenge in the time trial, though he can’t ever be completely counted out. Sky’s climbers, Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran will have license to go for stage wins in the mountains, and Thomas will likely spend those days nestled in the grupetto resting and preparing for more leadout efforts.
Saturday’s prologue will be a massive achievement for whoever wins it, but for these favorites, pulling on the pink jersey is the main objective of the Giro. Judging by recent performances, Thomas is my pink, though Phinney will have improved over the last few weeks and will put up a strong fight.
It’s finally Grand Tour season, folks. Get ready….