Mike Tomalaris has suffered for the Giro, and it kicks off months of late nights for SBS's cycling reporter, who has endured illness and the onset of the antipodean winter as he reports on the Northern Hemisphere cycling tours. After a week of the Giro, he's allowed himself the luxury of picking the eventual winners - again.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

After more than a week of racing we're no closer to knowing who will take out the 2008 Giro d'Italia.

But after spending many nights in the wee small hours watching the race unfold, I'll have a go anyway.

The first week of any Grand Tour is traditionally reserved for the sprinters, but that wasn't necessarily the case this year.

Podcast: video highlights of every stage of the 2008 Giro d'Italia

Not only have the roads been a little more undulating than the SPRINTERS would have liked, but they've been forced to negotiate a very narrow and technical course, particularly in the latter part of some of the stages.

That has been the reason for the many crashes which have ended the ambitions of several big-name riders in the first week, including Australia's CSC pair Brad McGee and Stuart O'Grady and David Zabriskie of Slipstream Chipotle.

So here is my list of riders who have impressed in week 1, and who I feel are likely to come out on top on June 1 when the Giro comes to a grinding halt in Milan.

Next to each name is a score out of 10 - a rating on their chances of taking overall honours.

Visconti inherited the race lead in stage 6 as a member of a huge breakaway. He is Italy's national road champion and has the best possibly ally in Quickstep's reigning world champion Paolo Bettini. He specialises as a one-day rider who makes the most of the breaks, but he showed signs of weakness when his more fancied rivals when thet attacked each other across the Apennines in stage 7. This makes me wonder whether Visconti has the ticker to do the buisness in the high country.

The Giro's defending champion is hungry to make it two from two - that was evident in stage 7 when he launched an attack on the last climb of the day which caught his challengers napping. Di Luca is a hard man whose Giro passions run deep. He can sprint, he can climb, he can attack at any time. He also defines everything Italian right down to his chiseled looks.

If there's a dark horse in the pack, it's this man. Ricco is the new kid on the block who posseses all-round qualities. By winning a mountain stage last year, he gave a prelude for possible things to come in stage 2 this year when winning a race which was devoid of high mountains, but was tough enough to test the legs so early in the race. He speaks his mind whether it's on the bike or off it - this was clearly illustrated when criticising Contador for not doing his share of work in stage 7.

He arrived in Italy underdone (so we're told) after Astana's late invitation to compete. As a non-invite to the Tour de France, Alberto Contador now has the opportunity to use the Giro as his biggest race of the year. Without giving too much away he impressed when challenging Di Luca and Ricco on the climbs in stage 7 and given his youth, exhuberance and experience on the world stage, he has a much to prove to his harshest critics who have hounded his progress since July last year.

By wearing the leader's jersey for four days Franco Pellizotti has done himself and Liquigas proud. Little known by those outside Italy's cycling fraternity, Pellizotti may have run his race given his fall from grace since wearing pink through Sicily.

Never discount the great Russian whose experience in Grand Tours is second-to-none. As a two-time winner of the Tour of Spain, Menchov is also hungry to add a Giro victory to his palmares. At 9'16" in arrears after eight days of racing, he remains close enough to pounce on the leaders in the latter part of the Giro. Menchov is the man Rabobank leans on to restore the team's reputation as a world force and wipe away the bad memories by disgraced teammate Michael Rasmussen in last year's Tour de France.

The Giro is virtually a learning experience for Australia's national champion. Matt Lloyd is living a dream by merely competing in the great race and I'm sure he's taking as much advice as possible from his Silence-Lotto mentors which include fellow-Aussie teammates Robbie McEwen and Nick Gates. If he survives the three torture test, he'll come out on the other side as a rider to lean on in future Grand Tours.

So there you have it - who will win?
It's a toss-up between Contador, Ricco and Di Luca - no suprises really.
Of course there are many others who should be considered for outright success. Gilberto Simoni, Daniele Nardello, Davide Rebellin, Paolo Savoldelli and Emanuele Sella are all in the top 10 on GC after one week of competition.
Who is your winner?