Giro d'Italia: Chris Froome's rival Simon Yates' stage-by-stage guide

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Simon Yates (left) won the best young rider at the 2017 Tour de France, won by Chris FroomeBritain's Chris Froome starts the 101st edition of the Giro d'Italia looking to become just the third rider to win three successive Grand Tours.The Team Sky rider won his fourth Tour de France title last July and followed that with victory in the Vuelta a Espana.Should he win the Giro, he will emulate French great Bernard Hinault who won all three in 1982-83, while Belgian legend Eddy Merckx won four on the trot in 1975-76.
The 21-stage, 3562.9km (2,214 miles) race starts in Jerusalem, finishes in Rome and features two individual time trials, six sprint stages, six 'hilly' stages and seven mountain stages. Fellow Briton Simon Yates, who finished seventh at last year's Tour de France to win the best young rider's white jersey, is also chasing the overall win and the Mitchelton-Scott rider takes us through each stage...
Stage 1: Friday, 4 May - Individual time trial, Jerusalem - 9.7km

Simon says: The opening time trial looks like your typical city-prologue and it's short so there is no option other than to go at 100% for the full effort. But, with a lot of corners and changes in road width and direction, you cannot get into a rhythm - it's a matter of getting to full speed, braking as little as possible into the corners and powering out of them back to full speed as quickly as possible. There's some changes in gradient but nothing that will stop the big powerful guys from having a good ride here. Time trials are not my strength, so my aim is to lose as little time as possible and get this one over and done with before the road stages start. Svein Tuft is our strongest time trial rider at this race, but he is more suited to the longer courses and this isn't his focus so I don't think you'll see a Mitchelton-Scott rider in the race leader's pink jersey at the end of the day.Simon's one to watch: Tom Dumoulin - the Dutchman is the world time-trial champion and will want to get the defence of his Giro d'Italia title off to the best possible start.
Stage 2: Saturday, 5 May - Haifa-Tel Aviv, 167km

Simon says: In theory, the first road stage should be your typical sprint stage. The peloton is fresh but many teams, like ours, have sights on important stages in the coming three weeks. The winning team from stage one will honour the pink jersey (maglia rosa) on the front of the peloton, but expect Quick-Step Floors to be among the teams to take control of this one pretty early on. On paper they have the strongest sprinter in Elia Viviani and can come away with a bag of stage wins, including this one. The course is close to the coast and we need to be cautious of any wind, but I still expect the bunch to arrive together. Simon's one to watch: Elia Viviani - the Italian sprinter has been in superb form this year with the overall victory in Dubai and a stage win in Abu Dhabi.
Stage 3: Sunday, 6 May - Be'er Sheva-Eilat, 229km

Simon says: Day three is a lazy 230km stage. Longer stages, especially flatter stages in the first week of a Grand Tour (particularly the Giro) can be quite negative. The one thing that could change the dynamic of this stage is the wind. That and the fact we are riding a big piece of this stage in the desert. The run-in to the finish is technical and could disrupt the lead out but it can be managed and it's another one for Quick-Step to lose. We will aim to leave Israel having lost as little time as possible on the time trial, and to finish safely in the bunch on the other two stages, having spent as little energy as possible, not just fellow team leader Esteban Chaves and I, but the whole team.Simon's one to watch: Elia Viviani - the Italian can start the race off in fine style with successive stage wins.Monday, 7 May - rest daySimon says: We travel to Sicily on the morning of the rest day. We've had a few Grand Tours in the last few years with an early rest day so this one will be no different. The flight is not super long and it's the same for everyone. We will arrive and get out on the bike to turn the legs over in the afternoon.
Stage 4: Tuesday, 8 May - Catania-Caltagirone, 198km

Simon says: Just under 200km again today, and from all reports it feels like that in Sicily. From last year we know the roads are worn and heavy, and it made for slower but tiring racing. No major climbs but the stage doesn't have a flat bit of road in sight - it's either up or down all day. After a short time trial and two flatter stages in Israel, there will be a few punchy riders who will consider themselves to have a chance for a stint in the pink jersey. For me, it's a great chance for a breakaway to succeed.Simon's one to watch: Zdenek Stybar - the Czech rider has five top-10 finishes in one-day classics this year and this is the sort of terrain he relishes.
Stage 5: Wednesday, 9 May - Agrigento-Santa Ninfa, 153km

Simon says: There could be a few riders eyeing the break again today but on the difficult Sicily roads it won't be without effort. Any stages like this, with technical and/or steep ascents to the line require attention from a General Classification rider - get caught behind the wrong guy and you can easily lose a few seconds that you could need in the weeks to come. This stage could go either way, regardless we will have to stay attentive.Simon's one to watch: Diego Ulissi - the Italian knows how to win on home roads, having picked up six Giro stage wins during his career.
Stage 6: Thursday, 10 May - Caltanissetta-Etna, 164km

Simon says: Etna. The first real test for the General Classification riders and we expect it to be just that. There's no reason to hold back. Everyone is still relatively fresh and this stage is followed by a flat day so I predict it will be aggressive - who knows, we might catch someone out that thought they could 'ride into form' these three weeks. It's the first stage in 'our terrain'. We know we have to be aggressive at some point to make up for the time trial that has been and the one still to come, and today will have to be one of those days.Simon's one to watch: Miguel Angel Lopez - the 24-year-old Colombian won two stages at last year's Vuelta a Espana, riding away from the favourites on ascents to summit finishes.
Stage 7: Friday, 11 May - Pizzo-Praia a Mare, 159km

Simon says: Two things have the potential to shape today - how deep we all went yesterday and the wind. We basically follow the coast all day. No wind equals a standard sprint day for the likes of Quick-Step and maybe throw Bora in there to spice it up with Sam Bennett. Wind equals a stressful day in the bunch. We rely on our big riders to keep us in a good position and we will be happy to make it through with all of the contenders. We are promised wide roads and we basically ride in a straight direction all day so we are hoping for the former.Simon's one to watch: Sam Bennett - the Belgian-born Irish sprinter delivered his best result in 2017 with a stage win at Paris-Nice.
Stage 8: Saturday, 12 May - Praia a Mare-Montevergine di Mercogliano, 209km

Simon says: The second summit finish of the race but it's not as hard or long as the first one. With another summit finish tomorrow. I expect a select group of General Classification guys and the best of the climbing stock to be in the mix. It could go either way, a group of non-GC riders steal the show or the favourites battle it out. Simon's one to watch: Thibaut Pinot - this is the Frenchman's second tilt at the Giro, having finished fourth last year. He won the warm-up Tour of the Alps, where Chris Froome was fourth.
Stage 9: Sunday, 13 May - Pesco Sannita-Gran Sasso d'Italia, 225km

Simon says: The day before a rest day usually makes for the best General Classification days and this is a solid day indeed, the first of only two stages that take us over 2,000m in altitude. With the last 40km being pretty much all uphill we will certainly have a good idea by the end of today's stage who the real favourites for winning the Giro are.Simon's one to watch: Estaban Chaves - my Colombian team-mate is a brilliant climber and finished second at the Giro in 2016, winning a stage en route.Monday, 14 May - rest daySimon says: This is a real rest day, without travel, and we will certainly need one. I like rest days but we are all different with some guys needing to push a bit harder to keep the body functioning mid Grand Tour but I am pretty relaxed. Easy spin, rest, and as little media as possible!
Stage 10: Tuesday, 15 May - Penne-Gualdo Tadino, 239km

Simon says: The day after a rest day has two outcomes depending on the rider - fresh as a daisy or heavy legs! Expect a hard start with a climb straight from the off. The stage is designed for a strong breakaway to escape early and it will probably survive until the finish line. If it happens, most teams will be happy - including us. Simon's one to watch: Tim Wellens - the Belgian won stage six of the 2016 Giro after joining a breakaway and this terrain looks ideal for him.
Stage 11: Wednesday, 16 May - Assisi-Osimo, 156km

Simon says: Another uphill start that could provide a platform for a breakaway, or we could see some teams control the race for their punchy guys. It looks like a bit of a rollercoaster finish, with some pave (cobbles) and 16% gradients thrown in there - we need to be careful as always. Simon's one to watch: Simon Yates - am I allowed to say myself[/IMG]Stage 12: Thursday, 17 May - Osimo-Imola, 214km
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Simon says: Another flat day along the coast and the standard two possibilities - easy to control or the opposite if there's wind. We are really confident with our team for these stages. We have a great climbing team, but also some of the best in the business like Svein Tuft and Sam Bewley for days like today. Even if it's a day for the sprints, the final stages are always hectic. I'm not sure we'll have time to savour our arrival on the famous Imola race track, but it'll be a spectacle for fans and hopefully an easy day for me.Simon's one to watch: Andrea Guardini - the Italian won his solitary Giro stage back in 2012, pipping Mark Cavendish to the line in a sprint finish.
Stage 13: Friday, 18 May - Ferrara-Nervesa della Battaglia

Simon says: A carbon copy of yesterday, minus the coastal roads. A day for the whole team to conserve as much energy as possible. The onus will be on Quick-Step, and maybe Bora and a couple of others, to bring the breakaway back for the sprint. Simon's one to watch: Elia Viviani - I've picked him already to win a couple of stages and given the backing of his Quick-Step team there's no reason to suggest he can't win more than one.
Stage 14: Saturday, 19 May - San vito al Tagliamento-Monte Zoncolan, 186km

Simon says: Pencil this in as one stage not to miss. Monte Zoncolan is brutal thanks to the steep gradients. Anytime you see 22% anywhere, you know it's a day you want good legs. I don't think we fear climbs like this, but we know they are important. A bad day on a climb like this can decide your Giro. You won't lose seconds but minutes. Today will sort out the men from the boys.Simon's one to watch: Chris Froome - how will the four-time Tour de France winner be coping with the pressure of going for three Grand Tours in a row[/IMG]Stage 15: Sunday, 20 May - Tolmezzo-Sappada, 176km
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Simon says: One for the breakaway. It's prior to a rest day so there might be the odd General Classification rider who thinks he can make a difference, but I don't think it's necessarily the best day for it. There's a lot of descending and we need to be careful of this and weather conditions will influence a lot with team tactics. We want to finish this week with time up our sleeves on some of our key rivals with a big final week to come.Simon's one to watch: Ruben Fernandez - could this be a breakthrough race for the Spaniard[/img]
Stage 16: Tuesday, 22 May - Individual time trial, Trento-Rovereto, 34.2km
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Simon says: Survival day. Before the race even started we knew today was our danger day. Days like today are made for Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin - the difference they can make on a time trial like this is why they started the Giro as the favourites. For smaller guys like me and my team-mate Esteban Chaves, we just hope that the work we did on the time-trial bike in the off-season is enough to minimise the damage and keep us in striking distance of the podium.Simon's one to watch: Chris Froome - will the Team Sky cyclist, looking to become the third rider to win three Grand Tours in a row, be playing catch-up - or extending his race lead[/img]
Stage 17: Wednesday, 23 May - Riva del Garda-Iseo, 155km
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Simon says: The last chance for the real opportunists. The sprinters and their team-mates will all be fatigued so who will control a stage like this that will surely involve an aggressive start[/img]
Stage 18: Thursday, 24 May - Abbiategrasso-Pratonevoso, 196km
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Simon says: The first of three big days to decide the Giro. I really see two races developing on a stage like today, one for the lucky climbers who make the break and the other between the key General Classification guys on the final and only climb of the day.Simon's one to watch: Carlos Betancur - the Colombian climber is yet to win a Grand Tour stage but has numerous top-10 finishes on mountain stages and to add to his pedigree, he was the best young rider at the Giro in 2013.
Stage 19: Friday, 25 May - Venaria Reale-Bardonecchia, 184km

Simon says: This is the hardest day of the race - the Queen stage - and I expect it to be won by a General Classification rider, although you could see big gaps between them. There's a lot of GC players starting the Giro who need to be aggressive and if you have good legs you can really make a difference on a day like today. The break might go to collect King of the Mountain points but I predict it will most likely come back together on the final ascent. Simon's one to watch: Chris Froome - will he be defending the maglia rosa, or needing to attack to take hold of it[/IMG]Stage 20: Saturday, 26 May - Susa-Cervinnia, 214km

Simon says: The final chance. The General Classification battle will determine how this final stage is raced, but I guarantee it will be action-packed and you will see a lot of key guys marking each other. With only the procession in Rome to follow, our winner will be decided today.This could play into the hands of somebody slightly off the radar on GC for the stage win.Simon's one to watch: George Bennett - the New Zealander is yet to win a Grand Tour stage but comes into the race in decent form having finished fifth in the Tour of the Alps last month.
Stage 21: Sunday, 27 May - Rome, 115km

Simon says: Emotions on this day depend on how the previous 20 days have panned out, but there's always a sense of relief. Your body is on the brink of exhaustion and everyone is looking forward to stepping off the bike, having a rest and spending some time with family and loved ones. What an incredible city to finish off our epic three weeks of racing. A short, sharp circuit race in the city of Rome is our last stage. A day for the surviving sprinters who have endured an arduous third week with one eye on victory.Simon's one to watch: Elia Viviani - it's hard to back against the Italian who will be keen to impress in his capital city, particularly if he's not delivered earlier in the race.
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