ProTeam Lotto Soudal hunting stage wins at the 105th Giro d’Italia
On Friday 6 May, the starting shot for the 105th Giro d’Italia will be given in the Hungarian capital Budapest. For the fourteenth time in its history, the Giro will start outside the borders of ‘Il Bel Paese’. The opening stage brings the peloton in just under 200 kilometres from Budapest to Visegrád, where the first pink jersey is up for grabs after a short climb. On the second day Budapest will again be the setting for a nine-kilometre test against the clock. The final day of racing in Hungary will be a 200 kilometres long stage between Kaposvar and Balatonfüred, suited to the sprinters.
During the first rest day, the Giro lands on Sicily, where the riders with general classification ambitions will immediately have to show their cards the next day with a finish on the slopes of the volcano Etna. From the heel of Italy, the Corsa Rosa will head north with a mix of sprint, mountain and hilly stages. The final eight days at the Giro will be very tough with no less than six mountain stages, one chance for the sprinters and a closing time trial in Verona with a finish inside the iconic Arena di Verona, where the curtain falls on the battle for the pink jersey. With a course including over 50,000 altitude metres, the 105th edition of the Giro will be a real war of attrition.
During the sprint stages, Lotto Soudal will be aiming to bring its Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan into position. For that, he will be assisted by amongst others the three experienced Germans Michael Schwarzmann, Rüdiger Selig and Roger Kluge, who will be starting in their second, fourth and fifth Giro d’Italia respectively. Rouleur Thomas De Gendt will play an important role in controlling the early breakaway during the sprint stages. Undoubtedly, the 35-year-old Belgian will also be motivated to show something himself during his 22nd Grand Tour. For the young climber Sylvain Moniquet, it will be his maiden Giro. After a good start to the season, the young Belgian is eager to show himself on Italian soil. Another young climber who set his mind on a stage victory is Harm Vanhoucke. Last year, Vanhoucke came close in the ‘gravel’ stage towards Montalcino. This year, he will undoubtedly give it another shot to make his dream come true. Just like Vanhoucke, 28-year-old Brit Matthew Holmes will also be aiming to join breakaways.
Allan Davis, one of the Lotto Soudal sports directors at the Giro, briefly explains the ambitions and plans of the team. “The goal is to win as many stages as possible during this Giro. Of course in the first place with Caleb Ewan during the sprint opportunities. He is surrounded by some strong and experienced guys who can put him in an ideal position towards the final sprint. In addition, we have a lot of other riders in our line-up who need to take the chances as they come. We need to ride bravely and grasp every opportunity. We have a good combination of youth, experience and talent in our Giro selection to achieve our goals. We can’t wait to get started”, concludes the Australian sports director of Lotto Soudal.
Images: Giro d'Italia & La Presse.