The 2016 Giro D’Italia gets underway on May 9 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. A gruelling 24 days and 3,300 kilometers later, those left standing will cross the finish line in Torino, Italy.
With the Olympics throwing a scheduling wrench in the works this year, riders have to carefully decide which races they will take on. Alberto Contador has stated that he will not return to defend his title, and neither will Tour de France favorites Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana.
The Giro often falls in the shadow of the Tour De France, but in many ways it is a much more balanced race, and, some would argue, more interesting. The weather is more unpredictable; the routes are more dangerous; and the outcome is often less predictable.
The man to beat this year is Vincenzo Nibali, who hopes to bounce back from a forgettable 2015. The “Shark of Messina” will have to fend off an interesting mix of cycling veterans and young hopefuls.
Who will take the Maglia Rosa in 2016? Here are the odds.
2016 Giro D’Italia Odds:
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): 3/2
The distinguished Italian is one of only a handful of riders to win all three Grand Tours (Tour de France, Giro D’Italia, and Vuelta a España), and the odds are clearly in his favor to take his second Maglia Rosa in 2016.
Last season proved difficult for Nibali. He was disqualified from the Vuelta for an embarrassing sticky bottle incident, criticized in the Tour de France for an unsportsmanlike attack against Chris Froome, and lost a good portion of his Astana mates due to a doping bust. To top it all off, teammate and rising star Fabio Aru has become the de facto Astana leader and will be the team’s priority at the Tour de France.
So winning the Giro is crucial for Nibali; with the backing of the Italian crowd, expect him to put in a superhuman effort.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): 4/1
Alejandro Valverde spent 2015 focusing on the one-day classics and supporting teammate Nairo Quintana in the Grand Tours. But the Spanish veteran is also a former Grand Tour winner (2009 Vuelta) and, at age 35, isn’t quite past his prime; he won Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year and finished third at the Tour. Interestingly, despite a long and distinguished career, this will be his Giro debut.
Mikel Landa (Team Sky): 5/1
After moving from Team Astana to Team Sky, Mikel Landa will be looking to prove himself as a major Grand Tour contender.
Landa captured the attention of cycling fans around the world during last year’s Giro, where he outshone teammate and team leader Fabio Aru, leading many to believe that he should have been much more than just a support rider. This year’s race is a golden opportunity for the Spanish climbing ace to prove them right.
Richie Porte (BMC): 22/3
Richie Porte spent years riding in support of Chris Froome on Team Sky. Now it’s finally time for the Tasmanian to find his wings and ride for himself. He’ll be the unquestioned leader of his new team, BMC, and should have a strong supporting cast. Australian time-trial champion now has the chance to be a major Grand Tour contender.
Winning the Giro in 2016 would be sweet vengeance for Porte. He was harshly penalized last year for assisting a fellow countryman from a different team. The brave show of sportsmanship evidently violated a niche rule according to the UCI. The penalty put him out of contention for the Maglia Rosa and he abandoned the race shortly after.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant–Alpecin): 14/1
At this time last year, if you said that Tom Dumoulin was among the favorites to win a Grand Tour, you would have been laughed out of your local cycling cafe. The time-trial specialist is lightning-quick during the flat stages but, until recently, couldn’t keep up in the mountain stages, which almost always prove decisive in the three-week tours.
All that changed last year during the Vuelta, when he went toe-to-toe with Astana’s Fabio Aru on the steepest pitches. He finally succumb to the mountainous terrain in the final stages, but he proved his ability as a well-rounded Grand Tour rider.
[Photo credit: youkeys (DSC04674_DxO) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.]