Giro d'Italia 2024 stage one preview - a hilly start in the race for the pink jersey

The opening stage of the Giro d'Italia begins in the city of Turin and features three categorised climbs

Date: Saturday May 4, 2024
Distance: 140km
Start location: Venaria Reale
Finish location: Turin
Start time: 13:50 CET
Finish time (approx): 17:15 CET

The story goes that one day, when visiting Turin, Friedrich Nietzsche was brought to tears upon witnessing a cabin driver brutally whipping a horse that refused to move. It’s said that the philosopher was so shaken by the animal’s suffering that it contributed to mental breakdown, and eventual madness, that characterised his later life.

While the horse had no choice in its subjugation, the riders embarking on a gruelling, three-week tour of Italy do so entirely of their own free will. Whereas the Turin Horse might have driven Nietzsche to madness, perhaps the riders are all themselves a little bit mad?

Their journey starts in the same location as the incident with the horse, Turin, which hosts the Giro d'Italia’s Grande Partenza for the fourth time in history. The last time was as recently as 2021, when Filippo Ganna trounced everyone in a time trial and treated the tifosi to what is these days the rare pleasure of seeing one of their own riders in the pink jersey. 

By contrast, the opening stage will be a road stage for the puncheurs, with a parcours sharing two climbs from a second week stage of the 2022 Giro d’Italia won by Simon Yates: the Superga (5km at 9%) and Colle Maddalena (6.1km at 7.4%). The Superga will also be familiar to cycling connoisseurs for its role in Milano-Torino, where it is sometimes used as a finishing climb (most recently in 2021 when Primož Roglič flew up to take victory ahead of Adam Yates), and on this occasion was the springboard for an attack from Richard Carapaz, who ended the day taking the pink jersey from Juan Pedro López after only Yates and GC rivals Jai Hindley and Vincenzo Nibali were able to stay with him. 

These climbs are therefore hard enough to force gaps between the elite climbers, but there are some crucial differences between this year's stage and that year’s stage which makes such GC fireworks unlikely. Firstly, the climbs are only tackled once each this time, unlike then when both were done twice; and secondly, there is a much longer, momentum-sapping gap of 40km between them, discouraging anyone from making a move a la Carapaz. The late addition of the 1.5km San Vito 3km, with steep slopes averaging 10%, may also shift the dynamic, encouraging caution among the riders who may believe it wiser to wait for it rather than commit too early. Either way, the first pink jersey of the race looks likely to go to a puncheur rather than a pure climber. 

Stage profile sourced via the Giro d'Italia website


Stage one of the Giro d’Italia is well-suited to clear pre-race favourite Tadej Pogačar. The UAE Team Emirates rider always excels on short, punchy climbs and could want to make his ambitions clear early in the race by taking the maglia rosa right at the start. However, there’s also a chance that the Slovenian will want to keep his cards close to his chest and watch some of his key GC rivals, rather than attacking the stage himself. If this happens, it leaves the door open for more opportunistic attackers to take their shot at victory.

One person who immediately comes to mind when considering the best puncheurs in the peloton is Soudal–Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe. The Frenchman has shown some promising signs of form this year already with a top-10 finish in Milan-Sanremo, so he’ll be one to watch on the steep slopes of the San Vito climb. Quick-Step have a back-up plan with their young, talented Belgian climber, Mauri Vansevenant, on Saturday too.

Vansevenant’s compatriot, Quinten Hermans of Alpecin-Deceuninck, is another rider who similarly will relish the punchy climbs of this opening stage – he finished sixth in the hilly one-day race, Brabantse Pijl, a few weeks ago and has a strong team around him to help try and control attacks.

He might be a late call up to the Giro following Wout van Aert’s withdrawal, but Christophe Laporte of Visma-Lease a Bike will also be eyeing up victory in stage one. The French rider can make it over climbs but still has the ability to pack a punch at the finish, as does Biniam Girmay of Intermarché-Wanty and Matteo Trentin of Tudor Pro Cycling. Whether riders like Girmay and Trentin can make it to the finish line and have a chance at victory will depend on how aggressively the stage is raced – if someone like Pogačar wants time on GC early on, then it will cause trouble for the fast men.

Another GC rider to watch in stage one is Team dsm-firmenich PostNL’s Romain Bardet. Following his second place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Bardet will have confidence in his climbing ability and could use this stage to make his intentions clear about the general classification in this Giro. Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team will also be looking at this stage as an opportunity for success. While the team’s main focus will be protecting their GC rider, Ben O’Connor, the likes of Aurélien Paret-Peintre will also be able to go for the win if he’s given the freedom to do so. The same could be said for Jhonatan Narváez of the Ineos Grenadiers.

Teams like Israel-Premier Tech have more chance to race openly on stages like this  as they are without a key GC contender, so Mike Woods and Simon Clarke might be planning an attack on stage on. Ethan Vernon could be a good choice for the team if it comes down to a reduced bunch sprint.


We're expecting Christophe Laporte of Visma-Lease a Bike to take the win today. He has a strong team around him without any huge GC ambitions so he has the freedom to go for it, and we think the stage will be too challenging for the team's designated sprinter, Olav Kooij. 

Cover image by Zac Williams/SWPix

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