This 37th edition of the Giro del Trentino was presented in Trento this week with a familiar four-day, five-stage format to take place from 16-19 April. The 2012 victor, the diminutive climber Dominico Pozzovivo, now riding for Ag2r La Mondiale will make his return to the race he won surprisingly last year but he will face stiff competition in his title defence.
Pozzovivo took a dominant win on Stage 4 last season that catapulted him into the race leader's jersey, a day after appearing to be out of contention, and in winning the penultimate stage, captured a margin to second-place that would be retained until the finish.
This year's race will see six WorldTour teams take to the start with Bradley Wiggins expected to lead Sky Procycling ahead of his journey to notch up a second grand tour win in as many years at the Giro d'Italia. The 2012 Tour de France winner will most certainly arrive with a squad capable of supporting the Brit who will seek his first win for the 2013 season and a confidence-boosting end result ahead of his first realistic attempt to win the Italian three-week race.
Cadel Evans, who recently announced he would return to the Giro after a two-year hiatus when he finished fifth in 2010, is set for an appearance with BMC Racing along with the fellow WorldTour riders Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Ivan Basso (Cannondale) Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) and Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale).
Current Italian champion Franco Pelizotti (Androni Giocattoli), Stefano Garzelli (Vini Fantini - Selle Italia) and the elder statesmen Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat Polkowice) will line-up while other Pro Continental squads invited include MTN-Qhubeka, Europcar, Champion System and Colombia.
The race will see a reverse of the first day's double-stage format. This year a 128.5km stage around Lienz will play support act to the afternoon's 14.1km team time trial which was won by BMC in 2012 with Taylor Phinney donning his first pink jersey of the season before going on to experience a similar sensation at the Giro - which this year begins just two weeks following the conclusion at Trentino.
Stage 2 is the longest of the race at 224.8km with a mountain-top finish in Vetriolo Terme set to provide the first real shake-up of the general classification following the prior day's TTT. Two major climbs punctuate the stage with the final climb to the finish providing a 7.6% average gradient for nearly 15km.
The third day from Pergine Valsugana to Condino could be classified as a medium mountain stage and will likely see a small group contest the finish ahead of the final and most decisively stage saved for the last day.
Stage 4 is one of the shorter stages but the final 50-odd kilometers will be the tipping point for those with GC ambitions. The last ascent to the finish in Sega is just shy of 15km but with sections over 15% and up to almost 20%, the overall winner will most certainly come from the front runners at the end of the 166.8km stage.
The four-day race will most likely be one of the final opportunities to see many of the Giro stars race against each other before they make their final preparations for the first grand tour of the year.