The 2016 Giro d’Italia kicks off with an individual time trial, the first time this has happened since the prologue time trial of 2012. The time trial will be short, sharp and electric and may fare the sprinters more than we think as the 99th edition of the fight for the maglia rosa begins in the Netherlands.
Stage 1: Apeldoorn – Apeldoorn. 9.8km
The opening stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia commences towards central Holland, some 90km east of Amsterdam. This one-man race against the clock will take the field through a winding course. After a slow start that takes in two sharp turns very swiftly, the road straightens out and gives the time pure time trial riders a bit of a chance to get into their groove.
Unlike the last couple of editions where team time trials have kicked matters off, it’s been interesting to note the change the organisers have gone with in re-introducing the individual time trial at the start. More interesting is the fact that this is not the only individual time trial the riders will tackle in Giro edition 99. Stage 9 will feature a 40.4km race of truth in Chianti; which will roll its way over the course before heading downhill to the finish. But the most fierce of the three time trials will be the 10.8km climb up Alpe di Siusi in stage 15.
But the GC contenders need not fear too much in the opening stage. While those with plenty of power over the flats may find this an opportunity to gain a couple of precious seconds over their rivals, most will be content to get around around Apeldoorn safely, upright and without losing masses of time.
The sprinters will be interesting to watch in Apeldoorn with a surprise or two likely to take shape in the form of a Marcel Kittel, a Matteo Pelucchi or a Jose Joaquin Rojas. But do not discount someone like Tom Dumoulin, for whom three individual time trials would be like a gift from heaven. Seven of his career wins have come against the clock with the Eneco Tour and Vuelta a Espana time trials being among them. He has also never been outside the top 10 in world time trial championships at U23 or elite level. After impressing and nearly winning Vuelta a Espana last year, the Giro d’Italia 2016 is potentially even more ideally suited to him.