They celebrated the overall win in the last two years at the Giro del Trentino and dominated the opponents in four the last five editions of the Tour de France, leaving a permanent mark on cycling history. Now, Team Sky’s ambition for the – so far – elusive Giro d’Italia pink glory pass through the Tour of the Alps (April 17th-21st): the British squad will show up at the start in Kufstein, Austria, with a strong line-up captained by its two announced Giro d’Italia overall contenders.
A climber, Spaniard Mikel Landa, the winner of last year’s Giro del Trentino Melinda, and an all-rounder, Welsh Geraint Thomas, a former track superstar attempting a Sir Bradley Wiggins-like transition to stage race prominence.
Based on past results, Mikel Landa must be considered one of the favorites – if not the main favorite – of the Tour of the Alps: stage winner on the Monte Bondone in 2014 Giro del Trentino, GC runner-up in 2015, winner in 2016 after claiming the stage win in Anras, the Spaniard will once again find the mountain of Charly Gaul’s epic on his way to the overall glory in the Euro-Regional race. If Landa has already proved himself on the terrain, Thomas will look to test himself on the mountains in his quest to become a grand tour contender: the Welsh is a good time trialist, and has represented a key man in Chris Froome’s Tour de France victories, after becoming Olympic and World Champion with the GB Team pursuit.
In addition, Team Sky’s technical staff can count on the Italian unit, formed by climber Diego Rosa, rouleur Salvatore Puccio and sprinter Elia Viviani. The 2016 Omnium Olympic Champion in Rio de Janeiro chose Tour of the Alps as final dress rehearsal in view of the Giro d’Italia, where the sprinter will try to compete for the Points Classification.
Good news for Team Sky’s fans: Bike Channel UK is among the international broadcasters who will air the Tour of the Alps with a 1h30 daily live coverage, around 8 hours overall.
TOUR OF THE ALPS’ STAGES
Stage 1 – Monday April 17th: Kufstein-Innsbruck, km 142,3
Overall Altitude: 2075m – Difficulty: **
Stage 2 – Tuesday April 18th: Innsbruck-Innervillgraten, km 181,3
Overall Altitude: 2539m – Difficulty: **
Stage 3 – Wednesday April 19th: Villabassa/Niederdorf-Funes/Villnöss, km 143,1
Overall Altitude: 3742m – Difficulty: ****
Stage 4 – Thursday April 20th: Bolzano/Bozen-Cles, km 165,3
Overall Altitude: 3459m – Difficulty: ***
Stage 5 – Friday April 21st: Smarano-Trento, km 192,5
Overall Altitude: 3759m – Difficulty: ****