With the May 9 grand partenza of the 2014 Giro d'Italia getting ever closer, general classification aspirants for the grand tour will be lining up in Northern Italy for the 38th edition of the Giro del Trentino as the final preparatory race before the Italian grand tour.
Last year's winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won't be defending his title having changed his focus to the Tour de France rather than the Giro although a high-class field including previous grand tour winners Cadel Evans (BMC), Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Ivan Basso (Cannondale) and Michele Scarponi (Astana) are all expected to assemble for the start of the four-day 2.HC race.
The unveiling of the percorso for this year's edition in Trento revealed, that in keeping with recent tradition, the race will begin with a short team time trial.
In a change from previous editions of the race, organisers have decided to embrace eco-friendly goals with "green" areas set up at any feed zone to safeguard the area's beautiful landscapes in the Trentino-South Tyrol region.
New Italian national team manager Davide Cassani, who will be honoured with "Ciclismo Vita Mia" yearly award by GS Alto Garda organisers, will be keeping a close eye on the Trentino roads as the race has been won by Italians in all but eight years. Julio Alberto Pérez was the overall victor in 2005 while the last foreign winner was Alexandre Vinokourov in 2010.
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) has won the race a record three-times overall with Nibali a recent multiple winner of the event which was first won by Enzo Moser. The first two editions of the race were followed by a prolonged absence with no event taking place between 1964 and 1979 while the 1986 edition awarded a team, rather than individual, prize.
Last year saw Nibali fly over Trentino's peaks which proved a perfect launching pad for capturing his first maglia rosa just weeks later. Also set to challenge for victory is 2012 champion, Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale), while Fabio Aru (Astana) will also be looking to impress on home soil.
Team Sky will be a favourite for the opening stage TTT having won the stage last year with Wiggins and former Italian time trial champion Dario Cataldo, will have the firepower to repeat the win.
Of the 16 teams set to compete, there will be seven World Tour teams on a course looking tailored-made for Colombian climbers although there is yet to be confirmation of the appearance of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who is targeting overall victory at the Giro.
38th Giro del Trentino - April 22th-25th
Stage 1: Riva del Garda – Arco 14.3km (TTT)
Stage 2: Limone sul Garda – San Giacomo di Brentonico 164.5km
Stage 3: Mori – Roncone (loc. Pozza) 184km
Stage 4: Val Daone – Monte Bondone (Trento) 175km