With the start list for the 107th Giro d’Italia announced, cycling enthusiasts around the globe are poised for an exciting three weeks of racing, commencing with a challenging 140km route from Venaria Reale to Torino. This year’s Giro features a mix of seasoned veterans and promising newcomers across the peloton, with Tadej Pogacar leading the roster of contenders aiming for the prestigious Maglia Rosa.

General Classification Contenders

The battle for the overall lead will undoubtedly revolve around Tadej Pogacar, the Slovenian prodigy making his debut at the Giro. With a stellar start to the season, boasting seven wins in ten races, Pogacar is the marked favourite. Geraint Thomas, who narrowly missed retaining the Maglia Rosa until the final stages last year, returns with aspirations of redemption and will be supported by Thymen Arensman, a strong contender for the Maglia Bianca as best young rider.

Other notable riders in the GC hunt include:

  • Romain Bardet: Recently second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, indicating excellent form.
  • Ben O’Connor: Consistent performance with a recent runner-up finish at the UAE Tour.
  • Daniel Felipe Martinez and Juan Pedro Lopez: Both showing robust early season victories, adding depth to the competition.

Stage 1 Analysis: Venaria Reale-Torino

The opening stage presents a unique challenge with a hilly profile that may not favour the pure sprinters. After a flat opening 45 km, the race hits two significant climbs—Berzano di San Pietro and Superga—before a technical descent and a gruelling finish over the steep climb to San Vito. The stage concludes with a flat 500m dash, crucial for those looking to grab an early lead.

Top Contenders for Stage 1

  • Julian Alaphilippe: Known for his prowess on short, sharp climbs, Alaphilippe’s explosive power makes him a favourite for the punchy finish at San Vito. His ability to handle technical descents will also play to his advantage.
  • Filippo Ganna: While primarily a time trial specialist, Ganna’s power could see him break away on the final climb or earlier in the stage. A strong showing in the initial time trial could also put him in a position to wear one of the leader’s jerseys early in the race.
  • Florian Lipowitz: A strong third at the Tour de Romandie highlights his capability on hilly courses, making him a potential dark horse for the stage.

Potential Sprint Specialists

Given the challenging profile at the end, traditional sprinters may find it tough, but riders like Fernando Gaviria and Caleb Ewan, sometimes known for their ability to survive hilly routes, could surprise if they manage to hang on through the final climb. Jonathan Milan is another who could also stand a chance as a rider looking to win the Maglia Ciclamino again.

2024 Giro d’Italia Jerseys and Honours

  • Maglia Rosa (General Classification Leader): Sponsored by Enel.
  • Maglia Ciclamino (Points Classification Leader): Partnered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Trade Agency.
  • Maglia Azzurra (King of the Mountains Leader): Sponsored by Banca Mediolanum.
  • Maglia Bianca (Best Young Rider): Sponsored by Intimissimi Uomo.

Outlook and Expectations

As the peloton readies at the start line in Venaria Reale, the anticipation for what promises to be a fiercely contested opening stage is palpable. The tactical nuance of managing the early flat with the subsequent climbs will be crucial. Riders aiming for the stage win will need not only to contend with the physical demands of the Superga and the final climb to San Vito but also with the psychological battle of an opening day at one of cycling’s grandest tours. With the mix of young talent and seasoned professionals, Stage 1 will set the tone for what is likely to be an unforgettable Giro d’Italia.