Cyclingnews' countdown collection ahead of the 2018 Giro d'Italia

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The Giro d'Italia starts on Friday, with 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin set to clash with Chris Froome, Fabio Aru, Thibaut Pinot and a long list of other contenders for the maglia rosa.

This year's Grand Partenza is in Israel - the first time any Grand Tour has started outside of Europe – with Friday's opening stage a 9.7km individual time trial in Jerusalem.

As part of our ten-day countdown to the Giro d'Italia, we've produced a series of feature stories and interviews that are the perfect way to prepare for the Corsa Rosa.

These include the essential guide to the race, the top-10 contenders, a look at the sprinters and stage hunters on the start list, analysis of the key stages, exclusive interviews with Chris Froome, Fabio Aru, George Bennett, Miguel Angel Lopez and Canada's Michael Woods.

We also looked back at Marco Pantani's victory in 1998 – a turning point in his career and the doping problems in the sport, interviewed legendary Italian bike producer Ernesto Colnago and looked back at the recent history of the Giro d’Italia via a gallery of iconic photographs.

Our final countdown feature will be published on Thursday, just 24 hours before the start of the race.

Cyclingnews will have live coverage of every stage of the Giro d'Italia, with full stage reports and photo galleries, exclusive interviews, news and analysis.

These are all our Giro d'Italia Cyclingnews countdown features:

Giro d'Italia 2018: The Essential Guide

The Giro begins on Friday, May 4 with a 9.7km individual time trial on a rolling, technical course in the western area of Jerusalem that should provoke greater time gaps than a traditional city centre prologue. Dumoulin will, of course, be expected to shine, and Froome will look to lay down a marker, though Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) are also among those with a firm chance of claiming the first maglia rosa of the 2018 Giro.

Top-10 contenders for the 2018 Giro d'Italia

2017 champion Tom Dumoulin is back for more, and he’s joined on the start line by four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome in the first instalment of a hotly anticipated rivalry between the riders who shared last year’s Grand Tours. Yet this is not just a case of Froome vs Dumoulin; Fabio Aru and Thibaut Pinot add proven Grand Tour pedigree to the start list, while there’s also a string of up-and-coming riders who may well come of age this May.

Giro d'Italia 2018: Five key stages

Barry Ryan selected and dissected the five key stages of this year's race route. The decisive days include are to Gran Sasso d'Italia, Monte Zoncolan, the Trento-Rovereto time trial, Bardonecchia and Cervinia.

The 1998 Giro d'Italia: The apotheosis of Marco Pantani

Marco Pantani's victory at the 1998 Giro d'Italia marked the apotheosis of his roller-coaster career, the sporting high-point of his tragic life story and the final moment of uninhibited, innocent celebration of a national sporting hero in Italy.

Giro d'Italia retro gallery

Before the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia Cyclingnews has delved into the archives and put together some images from the past 20 years of the race.

Ernesto Colnago's best bikes of all time - Gallery

Colnago has an informed opinion of every aspect of cycling, from bike design and material technology to Chris Froome's ugly position, mechanical doping, Peter Sagan, and the future of Italian cycling.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) stage 4 Tour of the Alps

Giro d'Italia: Chris Froome defiant despite looming salbutamol case

Chris Froome has been under intense pressure to recuse himself from racing since his salbutamol case went public on December 13 but two weeks earlier, during the presentation of the 2018 Giro route, Froome confirmed he would be at the start in Israel as he tried to follow his 2017 Tour de France-Vuelta a España success with a Giro-Tour double in 2018. Then there was genuine excitement as he promised to take on another Grand Tour challenge. Now he will race subjudice as he tries to fight his case.

Third time the charm? George Bennett returns to the Giro d'Italia

They say the third time is the charm, and George Bennett will hope that's the case at this year's Giro d'Italia. Although the Kiwi says he loves competing in Italy, the corsa rosa has not been a kind mistress to him so far.

Woods aiming to give Canadians someone to cheer for again at Giro d’Italia

It would be difficult for Canadian sports fans not to have a soft spot for the Giro d’Italia. In 2012, Ryder Hesjedal claimed the country’s first, and only, Grand Tour victory there, in a triumph that acted as a beacon of inspiration for its cycling community. Six years on, Michael Woods will fly the flag for Canada.

No pressure for Miguel Angel Lopez at debut Giro d'Italia

Ask anyone for their favourite to take the overall classification at this year’s Giro d'Italia, then Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) are likely to be high on their list. Probe a little further, though, and Miguel Angel Lopez will not be too far behind.

Fabio Aru flies the flag for Italy at the Giro d'Italia

Fabio Aru will ride the Giro d'Italia wearing the Italian national champion's tricolore stripes on his UAE Team Emirates jersey. In the absence of Vincenzo Nibali, and as the only Italian overall contender to have won a Grand Tour, the 27-year-old Sardinian carries the hopes of the home nation on his shoulders.

Fabio Aru at stage 3 of  Tour of the Alps

 

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