My thoughts on the course:
This isn't the toughest Giro of recent times, but I think people are underestimating it. It has a few tough, but not so well known climbs, in addition to the well known ones. In the first two weeks however only one stage is likely to give major gaps between the GC riders: the MTF on Blockhaus. I don't think much will happen on this unsteep side of the Etna until the final 2 km. Stage 12 is tricky, but the climbs are pretty far from the finish. The battle for the stage win will certainly be interesting, but a gutsy GC rider might try something too.
So apart from Blockhaus the GC will probably be decided in the final nine days. The penultimate weekend offers two chances with possibilities for inspired attackers, but the main favorites might still stick together. Stage 16 has the much easier side of the Mortirolo, and it comes the day before a tougher stage. However there's always someone with a bad day after the resting day. Stage 17 has a major climb 8 km before the finish: the Menador or Monterovere or whatever its name is. That could be decisive; it's an excellent opportunity to go after the pink jersey if you're strong. Stage 19 is another underestimated stage, with a tough climb in Slovenia and a shorter MTF in Italy. This is the best chance for a big attack over two climbs for someone who's willingbto play all or nothing. Stage 20 is another tough Dolomite stage. That could be a major finale, or a boring stage with the team of the pink jersey in control of everything.
Of course a long flat ITT and a climbing ITT would have been better, but there's no use in complaining. If there's a battle for seconds the final stage might still be exciting.
Other than the Slovenians (who you would normally expect to target the Tour and not ride the Giro), who are the missing high-end overall candidates?such a third-rate GT with a lack of TT and therefore a lack of high-end overall candidates.
here's hoping dumo can become the dumo of 2017 & 2018 and give this Giro some legitimacy.
Martinez, Vingegaard and Bernal, if he's healthy. Mas I would consider a solid top 5 bet. Can't think of many others. Guess Adam Yates and Vlasov deserve a shout.Other than the Slovenians (who you would normally expect to target the Tour and not ride the Giro), who are the missing high-end overall candidates?
Martinez and Thomas? Vingegaard?
Even if the route is poor, the field is not.
I don't think the GC field is super weak, but there is definitely an argument to be made it is below average. Of the 15 guys finishing top 5 in a GT last year only 3 are participating, and not 1 of then finished top 2 last year.Bernal is out of the picture, and would Vingegaard be the clearly number one favourite here if he was at the start? I don't think so. Likewise for Mas.
So the only available high-end overall candidates clearly missing are the two Slovenians.
Then you are left with the depth of the field, but is the third/fifth/whatever best contender starting here worse than what you'd expect or what it has been in other years? I would turn it around and say that the field has been surprisingly strong in the Giro in some of the editions over the past decade (but rarely deep), and this is more along the baseline.
Where would you rank Caruso and Mas in this field? As the top two favourites?I don't think the GC field is super weak, but there is definitely an argument to be made it is below average. Of the 15 guys finishing top 5 in a GT last year only 3 are participating, and not 1 of then finished top 2 last year.
Currently the field has significant depth when it comes to 2nd and 3rd tier GC contenders, but lacks the top end star quality due to the Slovenians and Bernal being absent for their different reasons. However, several of those present are either inconsistent by nature (Yates, Landa,MAL) or have been out of the GT GC picture recently for different reasons, but have shown an ability to podium or even win one before (Bardet, Dumoulin). If most of those manage to perform to more or less of their best abilities, this could end up as one the deepest GC fields the Giro has seen for some time.
There is also Carapaz, a former winner of the Giro, and he has been on the podium in other GTs as well.
So u design a course that benefits only one particular type of rider, you get an underwhelming field and underwhelming action.
when will they learn?
Dumoulin.Who are the big TTers who can challenge a GT and would have come to the Giro if it was TT heavy?
Fairly sure field strength only weekly correlates to the route.