Porte is favourite for Giro del Trentino

The Giro d’Italia is less than three weeks away and this week’s Giro del Trentino is the ideal way to prepare for a shot at the overall classification, get a taste of the Italian mountains and have a last practice run for the team time trial in San Remo.

The Giro del Trentino only last four days, with some riders even jumping on a plane to ride Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but it is traditionally a rite of passage for riders looking to leave their mark on the corsa rosa in May.

Richie Porte (Team Sky) stands out on the start list and in the absence of last-minute withdrawal Fabio Aru (Astana), the Tasmanian and his strong British squad are the rider and team to beat during the four days of racing.

Porte won the Volta a Catalunya in late March and before that Paris-Nice, and still leads the WorldTour rankings thanks to his consistency. He had a difficult 2014 and missed the Giro d’Italia but seems to be back to his very best. Porte is arguably now equal favourite for the Giro d’Italia alongside Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) considering the Spaniard’s modest results of the spring, and an impressive performance at the Giro del Trentino will only shorten his odds and boost his confidence.

Porte will be backed by a strong Team Sky squad that includes Ian Boswell, Sebastian Henao, Leopold Konig, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Xabier Zandio, with many of those expected to ride the Giro d’Italia with him. They will no doubt also help give Porte an advantage in the opening team time trial stage. It will then be up to him to defend any time gained in the three mountain stages.

Porte’s biggest rivals at the Giro del Trentino will probably be Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who will wear number one in the absence of 2014 winner Cadel Evans and his BMC team. Pozzovivo was second overall last year and showed his form with a stage victory at the Volta a Catalunya. The steep mountain roads are perfect for his pure climber’s build and he knows them well after a decade as a professional and winning two stages and the overall classification at Trentino in 2012.

Also on the start list are former Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal and his Cannondale-Garmin teammate Joe Dombrowski. Tour de France podium finisher and recent Criterium International winner Jean-Christophe Peraud will back Pozzovivo at Ag2r-La Mondiale, while South Africa’s Louis Meintjes leads the MTN-Qhubeka team after winning the recent Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.

The absence of Aru leaves Astana with just seven riders, with Diego Rosa and Dario Cataldo expected to step up and fill Aru’s shoes. Mikel Landa should also not be overlooked. He won a stage last year and recently took an impressive stage win at the Tour of the Basque Country. Rosa was in the break with Vincenzo Nibali at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday but jumped on a plane to travel to Trentino. He crashed at speed on a corner but insisted he is fine and ready to complete his pre-Giro d’Italia racing programme in Trentino, while Aru is likely to add the Tour de Romandie to his programme.

This year the Giro del Trentino has joined forces with the organisers of the Trofeo Melinda race. It will again visit the little-known mountains west of Trento but also the Val di Non valley where million of Melinda apples are grown every year.

Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the Giro del Trentino with full stage reports, photo galleries and exclusive news and interviews. 

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