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Giro d'Italia

Racing this Week: Giro, Dunkirk and China

Racing this Week: Giro, Dunkirk and China

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With the spring classics firmly in the rear-view mirror, cycling changes gears this week with the dawn of the season’s first grand tour.

The 93rd Giro d’Italia dominates European racing all month and that’s certainly the case this week, with only a smattering of events in France and Poland. The women trek east to China for the fifth round of the World Cup.

56th Four Days of Dunkirk(2.HC)
May 5-9 – France

One of the leading misnomers in racing, the Four Days of Dunkirk is rarely four days. This year, five days of racing mark the 56th edition of the race, but at least it’s held in and around Dunkirk.

The race is run on the deceptively steep hills in the Pas du Calais region in northern France, where wind, rain and unpredictable spring weather can make the race even more challenging.

The field includes a mix of ProTour and French continental teams. HTC-Columbia lines up with a young squad while some big names from other teams, such as Gerard Ciolek (Milram), Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank) and the Feillu brothers (Vacansoleil) will be bucking for stage wins.

Former winners include Pierrick Fédrigo (BBox Bouygues), Sylvain Chavanel and Alexander Vinokourov.

There’s no time trial this year, so the winner could be decided in a big breakaway or on time bonuses if a strong team steps up to control the race for one of its captains.

On the web: www.4joursdedunkerque.org

45th Szlakiem Grodòw Piastowsckirch(2.1)
May 7-9 – Poland

Dating back to the mid 1960s, the race is held in Poland’s Lower Silesia region. Since 2005, it joined the European calendar and draws a mix of Polish and smaller European teams. Surprise, Polish riders almost always win.

On the web: www.grody.com.pl

Tour of Chongming Island
May 5-7 – China

Tour of Chongming Island(WC)
May 9 – China

The women head to Asia this week for the first-ever World Cup stop at Chongming Island. The race, preceded by a three-day stage race, is the fifth leg in 10-round women’s World Cup series and the first at Chongming. Thus far, there has been a different winner in each race, with Marianne Vos retaining her overall lead, with 155 points to second-place Grace Verbeke with 114.

On the web: www.shcmty.net

93rd Giro d’Italia(HIS)
May 9-30 – Italy

The 93rd edition of the corsa rosa sees the race venture beyond Italy for a start in Amsterdam on May 9 and breaking with tradition to have the finale with a time trial in Verona on May 30.

There will be plenty of thrills along the way, with a traditional prologue on the streets of Amsterdam, two sprint-friendly stages in Holland before a transfer and a team time trial by stage 4. A spectacular final week means that it’s all but impossible to pick a winner, with the return to Monte Zoncolan, the Gavia, Mortirolo and the Plan de Corones.

While RadioShack is racing the Tour of California instead, the Giro boasts a strong field of 22 teams. Despite the absence of Mark Cavendish, there’s plenty of sprinters to liven things up, with André Greipel (HTC-Columbia), Robbie McEwen (Katusha), Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions), Greg Henderson (Team Sky) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre).

There’s also no shortage of big-name favorites for victory, including reigning world champion Cadel Evans (BMC), Carlos Sastre (Cervélo), Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) among the top names.

Final rosters are still being revealed, but North Americans expected to start include Craig Lewis (HTC-Columbia), Michael Barry (Sky), Ted King (Cervélo), Brent Bookwalter, Jeff Louder and John Murphy (BMC), along with Garmin’s Vande Velde and Farrar.

Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone), Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) – racing in his final Giro – Basso and Cunego are returning former winners, though last year’s defending champ Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is skipping the demanding Giro course to focus on the Tour de France.

Check back later this week for a full preview of the 93rd Giro.

On the web: www.gazzetta.it