On the back of Wednesday's 2019 Giro d'Italia route announcement, when five summit finishes and three individual time trials were revealed for the Italian Grand Tour taking place in May, Mitchelton-Scott head sports director Matt White has weighed in with his thoughts on next year's parcours.
“It’s a pretty soft first 10 days," White pointed out on his team's website. "There's actually no tough climbing until the second half of the race, which is not normal for the Giro. Usually they throw in a surprise or two to shake the applecart as early as stage two or three."
"There's almost 60 kilometres of time trialling, but the time trials are really well balanced," said White. "That's more kilometres than this year, but all three of them are hilly.
"Obviously, the last stage is the least hilly [15.6km, in Verona], but there is a climb there, and, when you climb, that does favour the non-TT specialists because the specialists can't make the same time difference.
"The first day, there won't be too many time gains," White said of the opening 8.2km race against the clock around Bologna, which finishes with the same San Luca climb that's used for the finish of the Giro dell'Emilia.
"And the stage 9 time trial is a nice one, with the biggest question being around whether to do a bike change or not with 20-odd kilometres of flat and 12-14km of climbing," he added, summing up the stage with its flat opening half from Riccione on the coast of the Adriatic and its much tougher second half, which climbs to the finish in San Marino.
White and Mitchelton-Scott have unfinished business with the Giro, with it looking very much as though Simon Yates would win this year's race for the Australian WorldTour team until his spectacular implosion in the final week, just two days from the race finish in Rome.
While Sky mull over whether to send Froome to defend his title next season, or if Geraint Thomas goes – or if they both go – Mitchelton-Scott will have to decide whether to give Simon Yates another crack at winning the race, which Vuelta a España winner Simon has hinted he'd like to attempt.
“The Giro is very traditional in that it's always 'tail heavy', because we always finish in northern Italy, so there are no surprises there," said White.
"In the second half of the race, there are some bloody tough days when you're looking at 4,000 and 5,000 metres-plus of climbing.
"There are some climbs we know, and it’s great to see some traditional climbs back in there again," he said, referring to the Gavia and the Mortirolo, which both feature on stage 16, and the Croce d'Aune, which comes on the penultimate stage.
"But there are also some climbs that we don't know. Regardless, that last half of the race is really tough."
"But that doesn't take away from the toughness of the climbs, and there are a lot of stages in the Giro that have more climbing metres than the Tour."
Yates took a little more of a studied approach to his race en route to winning the Vuelta in September, measuring, and even curtailing, his early accelerations, having learned to gauge his efforts a little more thanks to his Giro lesson.
“It looks like a pretty traditional Giro route to me, but again the devil is always in the details for the final kilometres on the stages,” White warned.
Mitchelton-Scott can prepare for next year's race by working on their weaknesses, such as time trialling, and by using Simon Yates' Vuelta win as their template for another attempt on the Giro, but there's one aspect of the Italian Grand Tour that is impossible to prepare for, according to White.
"The thing that makes the Giro somewhat unpredictable is the weather. It could be 30C and sunny one day, and snowing the next.
"We've had Giros in the last couple of years that haven't had a drop of rain for three weeks," White said, "and others where we've seen stages cancelled due to snow.
"You're always in the hands of the gods with the weather in that part of the world at that time of year."
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