Ben Swift’s Giro d’Italia 2014 stage-by-stage guide

The 97th edition of the Giro d’Italia started in Belfast on Friday, with three stages in Northern Ireland and the Republic before switching to Italy.

The 21-stage race, which finishes on 1 June, features three time trials, 40 categorised climbs, 10 uphill finishes and a longest stage of 249km (154.75 miles). The race’s highest point is atop the Stelvio at 2,758m.

Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali is not defending the title he won in 2013, leaving Colombia’s Nairo Quintana and Australia’s Cadel Evans among the favourites.

Team Sky’s Ben Swift is

the solitary British rider in the race

and he has given BBC Sport the lowdown on each stage, picking out stages seven, 11 and 17 as ones he thinks he has a chance of winning.

Friday, 9 May – stage 1: Belfast (21.7km) Team time trial

Winners:

Orica GreenEdge –

report (Orica GreenEdge’s Svein Tuft in leader’s pink jersey)

Australia’s Orica GreenEdge are victorious on the opening day, with Svein Tuft taking the race lead on his 37th birthday. Rigoberto Uran and Cadel Evans fare best of the pre-race favourites, with their teams second and third respectively, but Ireland’s Dan Martin crashes, taking out several team-mates with him and injuring his right shoulder.

Saturday, 10 May – stage 2: Belfast to Belfast (218km)

Winner:

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) –

report (Orica GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews in leader’s pink jersey)

Germany’s Marcel Kittel powers away from his sprint rivals to become the 84th man to win a stage on each of the three Grand Tours. Britain’s Ben Swift figures in the final sprint and finishes seventh. The race favourites spend a wet and windy day in the shelter of the peloton. Australia’s Michael Matthews is eighth and takes the race lead from Orica GreenEdge team-mate Svein Tuft.

Sunday, 11 May – stage 3: Armagh to Dublin (187km)

Winner:

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) –

report (Orica GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews in leader’s pink jersey)

Britain’s Ben Swift is cruelly pipped to the line by Germany’s Marcel Kittel, who celebrates his 26th birthday with a second consecutive stage victory after timing his sprint to perfection. On another damp and blustery day, the race crosses from Northern Ireland to the Republic with the overall favourites staying out of trouble in the peloton.

Tuesday, 13 May – stage 4: Giovinazzo to Bari (121km)

Winner:

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) –

report (Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews remains in leader’s pink jersey)

Nacer Bouhanni becomes the first Frenchman in three years to win a Giro d’Italia stage when he sprints to victory in wet conditions. The FDJ rider survives a late puncture and then holds off the challenges of Trek’s Giacomo Nizzolo and Giant’s Tom Veelers to win the stage. German Marcel Kittel, winner of two of the first three stages, pulls out of the race because of a fever.

Wednesday, 14 May – stage 5: Taranto to Viggiano (200km)

Winner:

Diego Ulissi (Lampre) –

report (Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews remains in leader’s pink jersey)

Lampre rider Diego Ulissi claims Italy’s first stage of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, beating 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans in a sprint finish. Briton Ben Swift makes an early breakaway but is reeled in over the final 25km.

Thursday, 15 May – stage 6: Sassano to Montecassino (247km)

Winner:

Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge) –

report (Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews remains in leader’s pink jersey)

Australian Michael Matthews extends his lead to 21 seconds as he avoids a late crash that scattered the field to win the stage. Matthews is followed home in a small group by compatriot Cadel Evans, who is now his closest rival in the general classification.

Friday, 16 May – stage 7: Frosinone to Foligno (214km)

Winner:

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) –

report (Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni claims his second Giro stage victory)

FDJ’s Nacer Bouhanni claims his second stage win of the Giro d’Italia, but Australian Michael Matthews holds on to the leader’s pink jersey. Bouhanni, making the most of dry roads, keeps his composure on a technical finish to grab victory by half a wheel.

Saturday, 17 May – stage 8: Foligno to Montecopiolo (174km)

Winner:

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) –

report (Ulissi claims second Giro stage win)

Former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans opens up a 57-second lead in the General Classification after Italian rider Diego Ulissi climbs to his second stage win of this year’s race. Evans takes the ‘maglia rosa’ from compatriot Michael Matthews, who is dropped on the first category one climb of the race after a week in pink.

Sunday, 18 May – stage 9: Lugo to Sestola (174km)

Winner:

Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge) –

report (Evans holds onto Giro d’Italia lead)

Cadel Evans maintains his 57-second lead in the race after pushing up the pace in the final 40 kilometres of the mountainous stage nine. Dutchman Pieter Weening is rewarded with a second Giro stage win of his career after powering out of the leading group with Davide Malacarne before the final climb.

Tuesday, 20 May – stage 10: Modena to Salsomaggiore Terme (184km)

Winner:

Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr)

report (Evans retains Giro leader’s jersey)

Australian Cadel Evans retains the leader’s pink jersey as Nacer Bouhanni claims his third stage win of this year’s race. The 23-year-old French rider’s victory strengthens his hold on the points classification red jersey.

Wednesday, 21 May – stage 11: Collecchio to Savona (249km)

Winner:

Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) –

report (Evans retains Giro leader’s jersey)

Australian Michael Rogers attacks on a downhill section 20km from the finish to win his first Grand Tour stage. His compatriot Cadel Evans continues to lead Rigoberto Uran by 57 seconds in the overall standings.

Thursday, 22 May – stage 12: Barbaresco to Barolo (41.9km) Individual time trial

Giro d'Italia stage 12

Ben Swift:

“I use it as another, I wouldn’t call it a rest day, mentally chilled day. You’ve got to go pretty hard to make the time limit (riders are thrown out of the race if they finish too far behind the winner’s time on each stage). I won’t be going 100% because I have other ambitions but the General Classification and Time Trial specialists will go 100%. It’s going to be hard because it is straight uphill for the first 12km and then uphill at the end. Expect a big shake-up among the race leaders.”

Friday, 23 May – stage 13: Fossano to Rivarolo Canavese (158km)

Giro d'Italia stage 13

Ben Swift:

“This is a massive opportunity for the fast men of the peloton because there are not many chances left for the sprinters to shine. This stage is sandwiched between two important days so the General Classification guys are not going to want to do too much work – they will be trying to recover from Thursday’s efforts and prepare for Saturday’s return to the mountains.”

Saturday, 24 May – stage 14: Aglie to Oropa (162km)

Giro d'Italia stage 14

Ben Swift:

“This is going to be a brutal day. Horrible. Most of the day is going to be spent climbing and the last 90km is going to be hard. The General Classification riders are going to look at each other and race it out up that last climb. There is only one week left so the guys that have lost time in the time trial, who are likely to be the smaller climbers, are going to be trying to take advantage. The next day is hard, but it only has one climb so stage 14 is definitely one where guys can do some damage.”

Sunday, 25 May – stage 15: Valdengo to Plan de Montecampione (217km)

Giro d'Italia stage 15

Ben Swift:

“For people like me this is going to be another horrible stage. The first 200km might be flat but you know there is a mountain at the end. The pace going into the bottom of this is going to build and it will be a good race up the climb. It’s the day before the final rest day so any riders who had a bad stage 14 could try and make up some time, knowing they’ve got a rest before the big final week.”

Tuesday, 27 May – stage 16: Ponte di Legno to Val Martello (139km)

Giro d'Italia stage 16

Ben Swift:

“This is a big day for the General Classification riders. It’s hard to see how it will pan out though because nobody will go too fast up the first two mountains – breakaway riders will take the prizes at the top of the Gavia and Stelvio passes – it will be about reducing the peloton and and racing up the last climb. I love doing the iconic climbs like the Gavia and Stelvio. We sprinters are not bad climbers, you just try and get up as best you can. A big bunch of riders will form a coalition on the first climb, called a gruppetto, and it’s about supporting team-mates. It’s after the rest day but we’re still going to be tired and if you’ve not got the break right you will pay a lot.

Wednesday, 28 May – stage 17: Sarnonico to Vittorio Veneto (204km)

Giro d'Italia stage 17

Ben Swift:

“This is one of the stages that might suit me. It has a couple of small climbs towards the end and after that it’s still a little lumpy – it all depends on which sprinters are left in the race because some only do first 10 days if they’re hoping to race in the Tour de France as well. I can see a breakaway or a bunch sprint. The teams of the General Classification riders are not going to chase, they’re going to see it as more of a recovery day ahead of the next three days in the mountains.”

Thursday, 29 May – stage 18: Belluno to Rifugio Panarotta (Valsugana) (171km)

Giro d'Italia stage 18

Ben Swift:

“The next three days will decide who is going to win this year’s Giro and should be great to watch. There could still be half a dozen riders relatively close to each other at the top of the standings with the next six within shouting distance. Stage 18 is very much a General Classification battle but some guys will be cagey with the mountain time trial following on Friday.”

Friday, 30 May – stage 19: Bassano de Grappa to Cima Grappa (26.8km) Individual time trial

Giro d'Italia stage 19

Ben Swift:

“It’s a hard day but then no mountain time trial is going to be easy. You have to warm up properly on the rollers before hitting the slopes. This is a stage where I’ve got to go flat out because everyone is going to go flat out. It’s exciting putting a time trial in the sandwich of two mountain stages because General Classification riders have to go 100% on all three days as the race for the pink jersey reaches its climax.”

Saturday, 31 May – stage 20: Maniago to Monte Zoncolan (167km)

Giro d'Italia stage 20

Ben Swift:

“I’ve never ridden up Zoncolan but I’ve heard the horror stories. It’s steep, with gradients of more than 20%, long and narrow. The Zoncolan is where the smaller climbers can try and claw back any time they may have lost on the time trial. Colombian Nairo Quintana is the guy to watch out for on the ascent.”

Sunday, 1 June – stage 21: Gemona del Friuli to Trieste (169km)

Giro d'Italia stage 21

Ben Swift:

“This is the day to crown the winner of the race and hand out the prizes for the points, king of the mountains and young rider classifications. When I rode my first Giro in 2009, I was third on a similar finish in Trieste. We only did three circuits and it’s going to be super fast. The sprinters left in the race are going to be chomping a the bit after three hard days.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/27281510

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