The 2017 Giro d’Italia will take place with no New Zealand riders on the start list. As the race heads into its 100th edition it will do so without any Kiwi riders for the first time since 2014. The race, which has been a popular stomping ground of the likes of Sam Bewley and Greg Henderson in particular in recent years will this time see our Kiwis focussed on other endeavours.
Only twice since 2010 have there been no New Zealand riders at the first grand tour of the season. The Giro d’Italia has developed a reputation for some as providing a different and arguably more exciting quality of racing to the Tour de France; although le Tour remains the biggest race on the cycling calendar. Only in 2011 and 2014 have there been no riders from NZ tackling the race, with Julian Dean and Greg Henderson kicking the decade off in 2010. Back then Henderson was racing for Team Sky and he took five top ten finishes over the three weeks including second place on stage 13. Julien Dean, racing for Team Garmin-Transitions, also took a second place in stage 18 and third in stage 10.
2012 was the year Jesse Sergent of RadioShack-Nissan and Jack Bauer of Team Garmin-Barracuda lined up for the tour, with Sergent taking third place in the final day’s individual time trial behind Marco Pinotti and Geraint Thomas. But Jack Bauer went even better with his Garmin-Barracuda teammates as they took the stage win in stage 3’s team time trial.
In 2013 Kiwis Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent and George Bennett were all united together at the Giro d’Italia and racing for the RadioShack-Leopard team. Sergent’s 15th place in stage 8’s individual time trial was the highest position of our New Zealanders there.
Sam Bewley stepped up to the plate in 2015 for his first Giro d’Italia and he got his Giro off to the perfect start, with his Orica-GreenEdge team winning the team time trial. The tour wasn’t a bad one for Lotto Soudal’s Greg Henderson either as he supported teammate Andre Greipel to victory in stage 6. 2015 was also to be the year that George Bennett lined up for the Giro d’Italia with LottoNL-Jumbo but low levels of combined with the team’s allegiance to the MPCC meant that he was removed from the line up just before the start.
2016 saw Bewley return to the Giro and form part of the team that sent Esteban Chaves to second place overall along with a day in the maglia rosa and a stage win in stage 14.
This year there are five riders on World Tour teams from New Zealand with Tom Scully and Patrick Bevin of Cannondale-Drapac, Jack Bauer of Etixx-Quick Step, Sam Bewley of Orica-SCOTT, George Bennett of LottoNL-Jumbo and Shane Archbold of Bora-Hansgrohe; but all have different objectives at this point in the year. It will be interesting to see if this translates into a higher number of Tour de France starters instead so keep your eyes peeled!