Giro d'Italia
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The Protagonists of the Giro d’Italia

With the Giro's start list beginning to firm up, it's possible to start picking out many of the race's protagonists

When the Giro d’Italia sets off from Sanremo on May 9, a half-dozen men will believe they can take the pink jersey into Milan 21 days later. Another dozen will believe in their podium chances. And every rider, to a man, will hope he can take a stage.

With the Giro’s start list beginning to firm up, it’s possible to pick out the race’s protagonists.

It will be one of the most open stage races in recent memory, with its only heavy favorite, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), potentially hamstrung by his attempt to win both the Giro and Tour de France in the same year.

The general classification battle will pit Contador against Australian Richie Porte (Sky), Colombian Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-Quick-Step), Italian Fabio Aru (Astana), and Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Soudal).

The race will have four previous winners in its ranks: Nippo-Vini Fantini’s Damiano Cunego (2004), Tinkoff-Saxo’s Ivan Basso (2006 and 2010), Contador (2008), and Cannondale-Garmin’s Ryder Hesjedal (2012).

Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick-Step) will start his first-ever Giro, seeking stage wins and a return to form after a crash sent him out of the classics. He’ll have to contend with Philippe Gilbert (BMC), stage winner and former pink jersey-wearer Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), and IAM Cycling’s Heinrich Haussler.

Each team will bring its own protagonists:

Ag2r La Mondiale (F) – Pozzovivo, Betancur
Androni Giocattoli (I) – Pellizotti, Gatto
Astana (Kaz) – Aru, Landa
Bardiani CSF (I) – Battaglin, Colbrelli
BMC Racing (USA) – Gilbert, Caruso
Cannondale-Garmin (USA) – Hesjedal, Formolo
CCC Sprandi-Polkowice (Pol) – Bole, Paterski
Etixx-Quick-Step (B) – Uran, Boonen
FDJ (F) – Roux, Veikkanen
Giant-Alpecin (G) – Geschke, Mezgec
IAM Cycling (Swi) – Chavanel, Haussler
Katusha (Rus) – Paolini, Porsev
Lampre-Merida (I) – Ulissi, Modolo
Lotto-Soudal (B) – Van den Broeck, Greipel
LottoNL-Jumbo (Ned) – Tjallingii, Kruijswijk
Movistar (Sp) – Izagirre, Intxausti
Nippo-Vini Fantini (I) – Cunego, Colli
Orica-GreenEdge (Aus) – Gerrans, Matthews
Southeast (I) – Petacchi, Belletti
Sky (GB) – Porte, Viviani
Tinkoff-Saxo (Rus) – Contador, Basso
Trek Factory Racing (USA) – Felline, Nizzolo