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Giro d’Italia 2014: Week 2 Preview

A time trial for the specialists and two tough days in the mountains mark the second week of the 2014 Giro d'Italia

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Something for everyone

The second week offers stages for sprinters, climbers, and breakaway artists

The Giro hits its equator with the second of three rest days on Monday, May 19, setting the stage for a wide-open second week of racing that will go a long way toward crowning the overall winner.

The week sees a mix of racing, with a few stages for sprinters and a few more for stage hunters, with two hard mountain stages, and the decisive individual time trial in the Barolo wine country that could tip the balance of the race for good. Sprinters will go into the second week looking to take full advantage of their opportunities to win stages. With a torturous final week across the Dolomites, the fast-twitch gallopers will be looking to grab a win or two, or, quite possibly, to pull the ripcord for an early exit. They’ll get their first chance on the 184km 10th stage from Modena to Salsomaggiore. Skirting the central plains of the Po Valley, the stage features some unrated rollers in the closing hour of racing, but nothing that will slow the inevitable tide of the peloton.

Stage 11, from Collecchio to Savona, brings the Giro to the glittering Italian Riviera and a chance for breakaway artists. At 249km, it’s the longest stage in the race this year. A steep climb in the first hour will spring stage hunters, while another short but steep climb up Naso Di Gatto with 29km to go will likely see the GC riders light things up. Sprinters will get shelled, and anyone on a bad day could bleed time.

The next day’s 41.9km individual time trial across the Barolo wine country will give Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) his best chance to take essential gains against the pure climbers. In March, the course was changed to include an opening stretch of winding uphill roads, totaling more than 12km. Even with a pair of risers in the final 10km, the course favors the TT specialists. Climbers will be desperate to limit their losses.

The 158km stage 13 is an undulating course into Rivarolo Canavese that could be the last chance for sprinters until the final stage to Trieste; the sprint squads will work in unison to control breakaways for one more shot at a win.

A pair of climbing stages over the weekend will give stage hunters two more chances for glory while the GC battle will heat up in earnest. The four-climb, 162km stage 14 to the Oropa summit will all but certainly see at least one weary GC contender lose any hope for the podium. Four first-category climbs are packed into the short route, including three lined up in quick succession in the final 80km. There’s little room for recovery coming off the Bielmonte summit at 120.7km before the final assault. Solid descenders, such as Samuel Sánchez (BMC Racing), could build a small cushion of time by gapping chasers coming to the foot of the final climb.

The second week closes out with the decisive summit finale up Plan di Montecampione at the sharp end of an otherwise fl at 217km stage. Anyone carrying pink after this stage and into the final week could be poised to hold it all the way to the end.

Stage 10: May 20, Modena — Salsomaggiore (184km)
Stage 11: May 21, Collecchio — Savona (249km)
Stage 12: May 22, Barbaresco — Barolo (41.9km ITT)
Stage 13: May 23, Fossano — Rivarolo Canavese (158km)
Stage 14: May 24, Agilé — Oropa (162km)
Stage 15: May 25, Valdengo — Plan di Montecampione (217km)