The amount of climbing needed over the next 3 weeks can become difficult for Giro's 'sprinters'. However, we give a breakdown on the contenders who could excel in this sports betting event.
The Giro's 'sprinters' points jersey can be difficult for pure sprinters to win, such is the amount of climbing that needs to be done over the three weeks. It's difficult, but not impossible - Giacomo Nizzolo won it last year at +550, winning by 33pts from Philippe Gilbert. Nacer Bouhanni led a bunch of sprinters in 2014, but the likes of Nizzolo and Mezgec weren't far off either. So where does this route sit in terms of being climber or sprinter friendly? Well to me it looks pretty even, but does seem to lean more towards the sprinters, but more so towards the punchy, sprinters-who-can-climb-a-bit, like Nizzolo - and hence why he's the +150 favourite.
Marcel Kittel is the best sprinter of the race and is sure to rack up a few stage wins, or high placings at the least in the first week, he looks nailed on to win at least one, if not both of the opening road stages in Holland. Stages 5 and 7 are likely to be within his grasp as well so by the 7th stage Kittel could well have quite a lead in the Points competition. Now the only question is, will he actually finish the race? The second, and particularly the third week are particularly hard and with a tough long TT in Chianti and the uphill TT too, Kittel might just pack his bags early and save his legs for the Tour.
If he does make it all the way to Turin we may look back at the +1200 available on him and kick ourselves for missing out on it. But I'm going to pass on it.
Same goes for Caleb Ewan, he's seriously fast, is sure to get some good placings in the first week, but I think OGE will look after him as he’s still so young and pull him out before the finish.
Giacomo Nizzolo, on the other hand, we know can finish this race after winning the competition last year, despite not winning a stage, He took two 2nds, three 5ths and a 6th and not finishing inside the top 100 on any one of the other 14 stages! He also finished 2nd to Bouhanni in 2014, thanks to four 2nd places, a 3rd, a 5th and a 9th place.
+150 is the best you'll get this year, which is quite short. I think he has a great chance of winning it again this year though, he should be right up there in most of the flat sprints, taking top ten placings, will be there on some of the lumpier stages when other sprinters are rolling in 20 minutes down and will pick up lots of intermediate points too.
Another Italian who will be looking to impress on home roads of course will be Lampre-Merida's Sacha Modolo. He's had a good start to the season and has notched up a number of top placings, including a 2nd in Dubai, 2nd in Qatar and a 2nd and two stage wins in Turkey. I'm tempted to have a bet on him each-way at the +400 he is, as it looks like a 'bet to nothing' as they say - he should last through to the finish and he should be capable of picking up enough points along the way to push him in to the top 3 - with a bit of luck, or maybe a Nizzolo DNF, he could even win it.
Another Italian with a chance who is around the +500 mark is Elia Viviani. He should be one of the fastest sprinters in the race but I think he could find himself riding solo in the final stages of races as the team is built around trying to help Landa to victory. The other problem, besides the fact he has no lead-out men, is Viviani just falls to pieces on any sort of uphill sections of road, and there are plenty of uphill sections of road in this race. I don't think he'll be consistent enough to win the jersey, although he could well take one of the flatter sprint stages.
Arnaud Démare is another interesting one, does he aim for the points jersey here? Or will he be stage hunting? Winner of Milan-SanRemo in controversial circumstances, he can get over the lumpier, hilly stages and can fight out for a top 10 place on most sprint stages. With luck in running and with the abandonment of rivals later in the race he could come in to the running as an each-way shout. The question, like with most of the candidates here though is whether he will finish the race or not in order to be in a position to land the betting odds.
André Greipel is big looking at +2800, but the German doesn't really win points jerseys much these days. He will struggle badly on the hillier stages and I think it's only 50/50 that he'll actually finish with the Tour to come as well. Sonny Colbrelli looks a big price at +8000 if the Italian Bardiani man can last the three weeks and get involved in enough sprints. He could also get in some breaks which could see him net lots of intermediate and finish points, but it's unlikely he will finish high up in the main sprints so I don't think he'll earn enough points to finish in the top 3.
Young Italian sprinter Jakub Mareczko is one to watch though in this Giro, to see if he can fulfill the hype and hope for him. He burst on to the scene this year with his victory over his 'Team Italy' team-mate Elia Viviani in the final stage in the Tour de San Luis. Riding here for his Willier-Southeast team he is sure to be involved in the sprints in the first week. A stage in the Tour de San Luis, a stage in Coppi e Bartali, a stage in the Tour de Lankawi and two stages in the Tour of Turkey (beating Modolo and Greipel) has shown that he can mix it with the big boys and come out on top.
Will he last the three weeks? Well if you think he can and will get to the last week when others have already packed their bags then he might reward those who took him at +2800 and bigger. I am reluctant to make it my betting pick though.
I think it is Nizzolo's again this year though but the +150 is very short. I think he's maybe worth holding off on though as Kittel should race in to an early lead and Nizzolo will have to play catch up. That should push his price out and a few days in we might get 3 or +400. Modolo on the other hand could be right up in the first 3 of the opening stages and I'm not sure his price will go out all that much. I think Modolo is worth an e/w bet at +400 or bigger, where we get our stakes back if he finishes in the top 3, which I think he will, and we get +400 profit on top if he wins.