As the world cycling season progresses into May the first Grand Tour of the season gets into gear as Italy plays host to 96th edition of the Giro d’Italia (May 6-24).
Sir Bradley Wiggins will be aiming to add a second Grand Tour title alongside the Tour de France crown he won last summer as he attempts to make more sporting history by becoming the first Briton to claim the coveted maglia rosa.
British Eurosport will screen daily live coverage from every stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, while Sky Sports will provide nighly highlights of the event for the first time this year.
Few races on the world cycling calendar evoke passion and excitement in riders and fans alike than the Giro d’Italia.
The 96th edition of the race covers 3,405km over the usual 21 stages, with the route this time around featuring an increase in time trialling kilometres, but retaining a host of spectacular summit finishes, including a brief foray into France for a famous climb.
The action begins in Naples with a rare road stage to decide the first recipient of the maglia rosa, then the race completes its southern tour of the country before heading north to decide things on the run into Brescia.
Seven of these stages are flat, which will perfectly suit sprinters such as Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel.
Of the remaining stages, 11 of them will be more suited to climbers, such as Bradley Wiggins, who has confirmed the race to be his main target for the season.
The race includes six summit finishes, including one on the Col du Galibier in France and another on the legendary climb to Tre Cime di Lavaredo on the race’s queen stage.
With this year’s route being less mountainous than previous editions and an emphasis instead being placed on Wiggins’s specialist discipline of time-trials, of which there are three, there is a strong possibility that Wiggins can create yet more British cycling history over the three-week event.
Wiggins leads Team Sky’s challenge for overall victory as the leader of the nine-man line-up.
A programme comprising of the Tour of Oman, Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino plus training blocks in Mallorca have acted as preparation for Wiggins for an event which he has not competed in since 2010.
Last year’s race saw a fascinating battle between one of the pre-race favourites, Joaquim Rodriguez and the Canadian Ryder Hesjedal.
Rodriguez held the jersey for a combined 10 stages but Hesjedal managed to overturn a 31 second gap on the final stage, to take the pink jersey.
This was Hesjedal’s first stage race victory in his career, making his win the biggest shock of the 2012 cycling season.
In the points classification, Cavendish held the jersey for over 50% of the race, but Rodriguez reclaimed it on the penultimate stage, denying the Brit his first points jersey in the Giro.
For the first time since 1995, there was no Italian rider on the podium, with Belgian rider Thomas de Gendt completing the podium, finishing third.
This year’s race will start in Naples, meaning that for the first time in five years the opening stage will take place in the south of Italy.
Wiggins will be going into this race as hot favourite, with the likes Giro del Trentino winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and 2010 winner Ivan Basso also likely to challenge for the pink jersey.
Cavendish will be looking to win the points jersey this year, which would mean he has won the points classification in all three of the Grand Tours.
British Eurosport will broadcast daily live coverage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, which will be the first race held under a new four-year TV deal between the pan-European broadcaster and the race organisers.
Commentary across the three-week race comes from Declan Quigley and Sean Kelly, with analysis from Magnus Backstedt and Stephen Roche.
All of the action will be available to watch in high-definition via British Eurosport HD or British Eurosport 2 HD.
Live streaming of Eurosport’s coverage is also available online via Eurosport Player (subscription required).
Sky Sports will screen nightly 90-minute highlights of each stage during the event for the first time in 2013.
Orla Chennaoui presents all the key action each day on-location in Italy. She will also conduct interviews with a selection of the riders as they finish.
Commentary will be provided by the world feed team of Carlton Kirby and Daniel Lloyd.
BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra will broadcast live commentary of every stage with commentary from Simon Brotherton and Rob Hayles.
A special preview programme will also be aired on BBC Radio 5 live on Wednesday, May 1 at 9pm, featuring interviews with Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE 2013 ROUTE START LIST Saturday 4th May Stage 1 – Naples > Naples (156km) LIVE: 1.00pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.30pm-9.00pm – Sky Sports 3 Sunday 5th May Stage 2 – Ischia > Forio (17.4km Team Time Trial) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport 2 Highlights: 10.00pm-11.30pm – Sky Sports 2 Monday 6th May Stage 3 – Sorrento > Marina di Ascea (212km) LIVE: 1.15pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Tuesday 7th May Stage 4 – Policastro Bussentino > Serra San Bruno (244km) LIVE: 1.15pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Wednesday 8th May Stage 5 – Cosenza > Matera (199km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 8.30pm-10.00pm – Sky Sports 3 Thursday 9th May Stage 6 – Mola di Bari > Margherita di Savoia (154km) LIVE: 1.15pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 10.00pm-11.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Friday 10th May Stage 7 – San Salvo > Pescara (162km) LIVE: 1.15pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 9.30pm-11.00pm – Sky Sports 3 Saturday 11th May Stage 8 – Gabicce Mare > Saltara (56km Individual Time Trial) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 8.00pm-9.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Sunday 12th May Stage 9 – Sansepolcro > Florence (181km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Monday 13th May REST DAY Tuesday 14th May Stage 10 – Cordenons > Altopiano del Montasio (167km) LIVE: 1.15pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Wednesday 15th May Stage 11 – Cave del Predil > Erto e Casso (184km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Thursday 16th May Stage 12 – Longarone > Treviso (127km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 11.30pm-1.00am – Sky Sports 4 Friday 17th May Stage 13 – Busseto > Cherasco (242km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 6.30pm-8.00pm – Sky Sports 4 Saturday 18th May Stage 14 – Cervere > Bardonecchia (156km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 10.30pm-12.00am – Sky Sports 4 Sunday 19th May Stage 15 – Cesana Torinese > Col du Galibier Valloire (150km) LIVE: 11.30am-4.30pm – British Eurosport 2 Highlights: 7.00pm-8.25pm – Sky Sports 2 Monday 20th May REST DAY Tuesday 21st May Stage 16 – Valloire > Ivrea (237km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Wednesday 22nd May Stage 17 – Caravaggio > Vincenza (203km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Thursday 23rd May Stage 18 – Mori > Polsa (19km Individual Time Trial) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Friday 24th May Stage 19 – Ponte di Legno > Val Martello (138km) LIVE: 11.30am-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Saturday 25th May Stage 20 – Silandro > Tre Cime di Lavaredo (202km) LIVE: 1.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 9.00pm-10.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Sunday 26th May Stage 21 – Riese Pio X > Brescia (199km) LIVE: 2.00pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights: 7.00pm-8.30pm – Sky Sports 1