On a course that shouldn't offer up any major surprises, writes Jack Houghton, it's hard to oppose recent World Champion Filippo Ganna
"We're unlikely to see a surprise winner. One of a small number of time trialling specialists are likely to take the stage..."
What's the stage like?
A short individual time trial at 15.1km - the first of three ITTs on this year's Giro - that sees riders tackle a short climb in the opening kilometre, with gradients reaching 6%. Thereafter, it's all downhill, and will favour the powerful time triallists.
The last three kilometres provide some challenges: the roads in Palermo narrow dramatically; and there are a few sharp turns, including a double-back. Anyone with doubts around their bike handling skills on these hard-to-manoeuvre machines might be vulnerable.
We're unlikely to see a surprise winner, though. One of a small number of time trialling specialists are likely to take the stage.
Who are the favourites?
The most likely of which is Filippo Ganna (4/91.43). The 24-year-old Italian has been on fire recently, dominating the ITT at the World Championships at Imola last week, and comfortably bettering most of his rivals here when he faced them on Stage 8 of Tirreno-Adriatico. On recent form, it's hard to see him not claiming the Maglia Rosa by winning this stage, unless some calamity befalls him, or his inexperience sees him miscalculating his effort.
If Ganna is beaten, then it is likely to be either Rohan Dennis (15/28.60) or Victor Campenaerts (15/28.60) who capitalises. Dennis has twice been World Time Trial champion, is a previous holder of the hour record, and still holds the record for the fastest average speed maintained for a stage at the Tour de France.
Campenaerts, meanwhile, is the current hour-record holder and a consistent podium finisher in time trials, although he doesn't win as many as his reputation might suggest he should.
Whilst the odds on Dennis and Campenaerts might look more attractive than those of the odds-on favourite, though, it's hard to see how either of them are going to overturn recent form against Ganna.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
Ineos Grenadiers could conceivably fill the podium on Stage 1, as Geraint Thomas (16/117.00) - favourite for the Giro overall - looks to be peaking at the right time and was a respectable fourth in Imola behind Ganna, albeit 37 seconds back. It's a stretch to see Thomas winning, though.
A better speculative punt at longer odds might be Tony Martin at around 59/160.00. He's not the dominant time trialling force he once was, but was still the German champion last year and might cause a minor shock on this unusual course.
What effect will it have on the overall market?
A strong performance from Thomas will cement his position as market leader for the General Classification.
*Odds correct at the time of writing
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Back Filippo Ganna @ 4/91.43