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Giro: The Jersey Contenders
« on: May 01, 2018, 10:21 »
#ciclamino Classifica a punti

The temporarily red jersey for the winner of the Giro d'Italia points classification turned cyclamen again for the 100th edition last year, and so it will be again in 2018. The points scheme remains the same as in recent years. Notwithstanding the fact, that he have seen battles between riders as different as they could be, with both sprinters and pure climbers fighting for the jersey in the past when every stage counted the same, the organizers decided to stick to the approach of the points system they introduced a couple of years ago. This means stages are separated in four different categories instead, with different amounts of points being awarded.

Points awarded at the finish (by stage category)

cat. 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
a) & b)         50      35      25      18      14      12      10      8      7      6
c)         25      18      12      8      6      5      4      3      2      1
d) & e)         15      12      9      7      6      5      4      3      2      1

+ minor points for place 11-15 in category a) and b)

Points awarded at the intermediate sprint (by stage category)

cat. 1st  2nd 3rd  4th 5th  6th 7th 8th
a) & b)      20      12      8      6      4      3      2      1
c)      10      6      3      2      1                                   
d) & e)      8      4      1                              

...with the stages being categorized in the following way:
  • categoria a) & b): 2a - 3a - 7a - 12a - 13a - 17a - 21a
  • categoria c): 4a - 5a - 8a - 10a - 11a
  • categoria d) & e): 1a - 6a - 9a - 14a - 15a - 16a - 18a - 19a - 20a
Since the rule change in 2015 no non-sprinter has really come in touch of winning the jersey, and with 7 possible sprint stages à 50 points on the line, compared to 7 mountain top finishes à 15 points (+intermediate stages which are usually won by various, and all types of riders), the rules clearly favor a sprinter to win the jersey again. This is also supported by the fact that most of those stages handing out the maximum number of points are fairly straight forward sprint stages this time, although there's some risk ofechelon on the early stages and #17 could be one for a breakaway.

Generally breakaways could turn out to play a part and influence the competition, as the number of points awarded at the intermediate sprint is relatively high. Daniel Teklehaimanot came 4th overall last year and Nicalo Boem 5th in 2015 by scoring points mainly by being in the breakaway - so an attacking type of rider does stand a little chance to take the jersey, but it needs to be a very brave one.

Three good opportunities to eventually score big points come pretty early in the race with three out of seven sprint stages in the first week. Therefor the battle for ciclamino is also likely to come down to motivation as a sprinter who already has scored many points in the first couple of days (and still sees the chance to take the jersey), will be more eager to take part in the intermediate sprints and to fight through the mountain stages to reach the finish on time. Therefor getting an early win could be crucial.

Favorites for the Maglia Ciclamino:



On paper the fastest sprinter in the race is Elia Viviani, and having already tried to compete for the jersey when the old points system favoring the gc riders was still in use, he will be very likely to have an eye on the Ciclamino. Still, so far he hasn't finished higher than 4th, which is one place worse than the 3rd place his fellow-countryman Sacha Modolo achieved in 2015 and 2016.

In absence of a former winner those two are the highest placed finishers in the past, and also the only two sprinters at the start who were able to add a Giro stage victory to their palmares in recent years.

Andrea Guardini won a stage in 2012 though, and also quick guys like Sam Bennett, Danny van Poppel, Jakub Mareczko or Niccolo Bonifazio will challenge for stage wins. But with their inconsistency (or a lack of climbing skills) they are not too likely to become real contenders for the points jersey.

Outsiders could be guys like Diego Ulissi and Matej Mohoric, who are very capable to finish high up the order on basically all kind of stages.



#blue Classifica scalatori

Not only the jersey for the winner of the points classification has changed it's color in recent years, also the one for the King of the Mountains has - it turned from green to blue in 2012.

You got to go way further back in time to find the last winner of the jersey who also won the general classifcation though - namely Marco Pantani in 1998 - as in recent years it has mostly been taken by riders not taking part in the fight for pink, like Mikel Landa last year or also Mikel Nieve, Giovanni Visconti,  Julián Arredondo and Stefano Pirazzi the years before.

Still, in the past it often has been a very open fight for the jersey between the opportunists and gc contenders, like in the 2015 edition, when there was a battle between Visconti, Mikel Landa, Steven Kruijswijk and Beñat Intxausti basically until the final climb of the race, with each of them at times looking like the one to wear blue in Milano in the end.

Back in 2014 the scores of the hardest climb categories were exponentially increased to give them proportionally higher value - and this is still the case now, with points allocated in the following way:

CIMA COPPI GPM 1a Cat. GPM 2a Cat. GPM 3a Cat. GPM 4a Cat.
      45      35      15      7      3
      30      18      8      4      2
      20      12      6      2      1
      14      9      4      1      
      10      6      2            
      6      4      1            
      4      2                  
      2      1                  
      1                     

(this year's Cima Coppi is the Colle delle Finestre)

So the allocation of points is very top-heavy, 1st category climbs are of much more importance than the smaller ones, and the big differences between the top finishers gives a massive advantage to those who manage to come 1st on the big climbs.

But in the end, the winner of the jersey it not only determined by the number of points awarded on the climbs, but also by the fact where those climbs are located during the stages:

Stage Course Pt / Underway Pt / Finish
#1      Jerusalem (Israel)             
#2      Haifa (Israel) – Tel Aviv (Israel)       3      
#3      Beersheba (Israel) – Eilat (Israel)       3      
#4      Catania – Caltagirone       3+3      
#5      Agrigento – Santa Ninfa       3+3+3      
#6      Caltanissetta – Mount Etna             35
#7      Pizzo – Praia a Mare             
#8      Praia a Mare – Montevergine             15
#9      Pesco Sannita – Gran Sasso       15+35      35
#10      Penne – Gualdo Tadino       15+7+3      
#11      Assisi – Osimo       7+7      3
#12      Osimo – Imola       3      
#13      Ferrara – Nervesa della Battaglia       3      
#14      San Vito al Tagliamento – Monte Zoncolan       7+7+15+7      35
#15      Tolmezzo – Sappada       7+15+15+15      
#16      Trento – Rovereto             
#17      Riva del Garda – Iseo       7      
#18      Abbiategrasso – Prato Nevoso       3      35
#19      Venaria Reale – Bardonecchia       15+45+7      35
#20      Susa – Cervinia       35+35      35
#21      Rome – Rome             
                  
TOTAL            351      228

Having that many point heavy mountain top finishes is in strong contrast to past years when the total maximum number of points available during the stages often clearly exceeded those at the stage finishes (2015: 514-99, 2016: 428-127, 2017: 466-175). This could mean that the big favorites for the overall classification come back in play to fight for the blue jersey as well, especially as the two most point heavy stages come in succession on the final weekend of the Giro.

This points scheme nevertheless still offers opportunities for attackers to win the jersey though, especially if a breakaway stays clear on stages 9 or 15 - which could be the case more often than usually anyway due to the reduced number of domestiques per team.

Favorites for the Maglia Azzuro:



It's difficult to name clear favorites to win the Maglia Azzura as it always is determined by the outcome of the general classification as well, with riders casting an eye on the jersey only after losing time early on - but for reasons mentioned above, the best climbers among the gc contenders are definitely to be mentioned. Chris Froome has won the Tour de France mountain jersey in the past and last year in the Vuelta at times it looked like he had an eye on trying to win all the classification, so overall I think he is the favourite.

Riders never afraid to attack also definitely stand a chance though, like for example Giulio Ciccone, Giovanni Visconti or Tim Wellens. Rodolfo Torres and Richard Carapaz have also looked very capable of dealing with high mountains in the past (and are unlikely to be too much of a factor in gc), and could thereby come into contention as well.



#white Classifica giovani

The white jersey for the best young rider was first introduced in 1976 and is awarded to the best rider not born before January 1st 1993. In the past years it was often won by Colombians, namely Rigoberto Uran, Carlos Betancur and Nairo Quintana, before Fabio Aru brought it back to Italy in 2015 and Bob Jungels took over for Luxembourg in 2016 and 2017. The other winners since it's reintroduction in 2007 were Andy Schleck, Riccardo Riccò, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Richie Porte and Roman Kreuziger.

With Carlos Betancur and Fabio Aru there are only two of those riders on the start list for this year's edition - and all former winners are too old by now anyway - so we will definitely see a new winner again.

Favorites for the Maglia Bianca:



Last year it was a close fight between Jungels and Yates for the jersey, with the Luxembourgian taking the upper hand by one minute only. This time it's more likely to be decided by gaps of over one hour, with no one able to challenge Miguel Angel Lopez. Sam Oomen maybe could have the capabilities to come relatively close - but not as a domestique for Tom Dumoulin.
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