The world's best three-week stage race begins tomorrow. No, not the Tour de France, which is in July. I'm talking about the Giro d'Italia, which is often a more interesting and open race than the Tour, with better scenery for viewers, and, for anyone who gets to go there, better food.
The race begins this year in Amsterdam with no clear favorite, according to Velonews.com (here). Last year's winner, Dennis Menchov is not competing. Carlos Sastre, who won the year before last, has not ridden much this Spring. Past winner Ivan Basso admits to not being on top form, although he might be sandbagging a bit; it's not uncommon for riders to ride themselves into form during a 3-week stage race. Another former winner, Damiano Cunego has shown some decent form this Spring, but much depends on whether his teammate, and now elder statesman of the peloton, Gilberto Simoni, is willing to cooperate with him.
Current World Champion Cadel Evans should have a great chance to win, but it might require him to expend more energy than he wants to prior to the Tour de France. Another good, but probably unpopular, choice would be Alexander Vinokourov, looking good off his win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Americans would no doubt like to see Christian Vande Velde return to the good form he showed at last year's Giro.
My picks for the podium: Pippo Pozzato, Bradley Wiggins, Ivan Basso