The Giro d’Italia isn't just about the general classification. There will a strong field of sprinters come the race start in Belfast.
Opportunities to sprint are few and far between, with summit finishes dominating proceedings. In fact there are a total of eight possible sprint finishes, with five of them coming in the first 10 days.
Last year, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won the red points jersey after winning a total of five stages. With points being awarded on mountain stages, as well as flat ones, it has become increasingly rare that a sprinter wins that competition.
Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) is no doubt the outstanding favourite to take every flat finish. He certainly has the dominance to follow Cavendish at take the jersey, but he’ll have to stick it though the arduous final week if he has any hope of doing so. Another jersey that the German has a chance of wearing is the maglia rosa. Bonus seconds at the finishes give him a slim chance of taking it in the first week, but that depends on how much time Giant-Shimano lose in the team time trial.
The Giro d'Italia is notoriously unpredictable and it would be foolish to believe that Kittel has this wrapped up. When it comes to the more technical sprint finishes, Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) has shown that he is more than capable of beating the best in the world.
The battle is most certainly on and here are Cyclingnews' top five sprinters to watch at the Giro d’Italia.
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