Anthony Tan analyses the highlights and lowlights of what has been an absorbing opening week to the Giro d’Italia, and what this may mean come July.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

How dramatic and intriguing the first four stages of the 2010 Giro
d'Italia have been.

These are some of the salient points that I
took – and extrapolated – out of an absorbing opening week so far.

-
Liquigas-Doimo, despite the loss of Franco Pellizotti before the race
begun, found an ideal – perhaps better – replacement in the newest maglia
rosa
, Vincenzo Nibali.

Along with team-mate Ivan Basso who
sits second overall, the strongest team in the race also has two cards
to play when the Giro hits the mountains.

- The status of
outright leadership has not affected the performances of Team Sky's
Bradley Wiggins.

I was unsure of how he would fare in such a
role, but this gutsy Brit with the rock-star sideburns has proven a
change of teams and a little extra fame and responsibility has not fazed
him.

However, the unavoidable spill he and a number of his
team-mates took on the third stage and how they recovered from that left
me thinking: 'If this was the Tour de France how would they have coped;
would they have chased harder (remember, their deficit to the stage
winner was a massive 3:59 by the day's end), and if so, how much time
would they have lost; and if this was the Tour, how would their strategy
change to claw back the lost time?'

- If anyone needed
reminding, Cadel Evans is a fighter with a heart as big as his engine.

But
again, despite a solid though unspectacular performance against the TTT
clock Wednesday, I find myself questioning the strength of his team
against heavyweights Liquigas, Katusha and Astana over the next
two-and-a-half weeks.

And don't forget: come the Tour de France,
BMC's opposing teams will be stronger still.

Given the number
of risks Wiggins took in the Giro's opening time trial ("I never touched
the brakes. I said bollocks to it," he later confessed), for Evans to
finish within two seconds of the Beijing Olympic pursuit champion over
8.4 kilometres was a fabulous performance.

Yet on that
wind-exposed, unnecessarily technical and crash-marred third stage to
Middleburg, he was isolated when Wiggins et al. hit the deck, was forced
to chase back to the group containing Carlos Sastre – then
barely recovered, led the chase to the group containing Alexandre
Vinokourov, David Millar and Richie Porte. Sastre was hurt and was
unable to take a turn.

It felt like it was Cadel versus the rest
of the world.

My belief is that if Evans or Sastre lose out in
this Giro, it will be through lack of team strength and support, rather
than through any weakness of their own.

And with similarly tricky
and potentially dangerous stages on offer in the opening week at the
Tour de France, I don't see this situation changing, either.

-
André Greipel will not be going to the Tour de France.

Armed
with the best lead-out train of any team at the Giro by far, Greipel
nevertheless met his match both on Stages 2 and 3. If he is to stand any
chance of making HTC-Columbia's Tour team, the Gorilla needs to rack up
as many stages as Mark Cavendish did at last year's TdF (that's six if
you needed reminding, André), which doesn't look like happening.

Grand
Tour and ProTour wins are where it's at and where it counts, not the
Tour of Turkey. Technical finishes are also a snaggletooth for Greipel,
as evidenced in the third stage of the Giro.

- In terms of GC,
Vinokourov, Nibali and Vladimir Karpets are the guys to watch out for.

The
good news for Evans is that Vino, in the past, was prone to a bad day;
Nibali's best Grand Tour result is seventh (2009 TdF) and best Giro
performance is 11th (2008); and Karpets best Giro was five years ago,
when he finished seventh in 2005.

And Cadel can climb and time
trial as well or better than all of them; the amount of time he's lost
so far, he'll damn well need to!

- Solid (though slightly
outside) bets for the podium would go to Sastre, Linus Gerdemann,
Michele Scarponi and Ivan Basso.

Given the returns, nothing
wrong with placing a few Euros on these blokes. Not that I'm condoning
betting… or am I?

All I have left to say is: Go Well, Go Cadel!