The 2014 Giro d’Italia kicks off this weekend in Northern Ireland, and four jerseys will be up for grabs: pink, blue, red and white. Here’s BikeRadar’s guide to the race, the competitions and how those shirts will be won.
The 2014 Giro begins on Friday in Belfast with three stages in Ireland as the race takes in the north of the island before moving across to Armagh and then down to Dublin. This is the 11th foreign start for the UCI World Tour event, in the 97th edition of the race. Italian Vincenzo Nibali won the 2013 crown but has opted against defending it this month.
The annual stage race will be contested over 21 segments this year (with an unusual three rest days) ending in Trieste on Sunday 1 June, as 207 riders compete over a total distance of 3,449.9km. It is organised and run by Italian media company RCS Sport.
Names to watch out for to win the overall general classification include Nairo Quintana, Joaquim Rodriguez, Cadel Evans and Rigoberto Uran, with some of the big name tour riders electing to instead concentrate on the Tour de France.
The red, pink, blue and white 2013 Giro d'Italia jerseys
The leader’s famous maglia rosa takes its hue from the distinctive colour of Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, which founded the race in 1909. It’s worn by the rider with the lowest aggregated time as the race progresses.
The 2014 jersey will celebrate the Irish connection, with a shamrock on the side panel and a celtic pattern addorning the sleeve. This year's edition is made by Italian cycle clothing company Santini and will also feature an Oxfam logo detailing the tie between the global charity and the race.
The blue jersey – or maglia azzurra – is worn by the best climber in the race. Riders can target the jersey – which was green until the 2013 edition – by collecting points on offer for categorised summits at the head of the race.
The race has categorised climbs, ranging from fourth cat to first cat – the latter are deemed the hardest. There’s also the famous Cima Coppi prize for the rider who reaches the top of the highest pass first (this year the Passo Stelvio on Stage 16).
The maglia rosso will pick out the rider who accrues the greatest number of points during intermediate sprints and stage finishes. It’s similar to the battle for the Tour de France’s green jersey, which is often won by sprinters.
In the Giro, however, it’s a topsy turvy contest because of the high number of summit finishes and the fact that the points scale remains the same whether it’s a pan flat stage or a mountain finish.
The maglia bianca is a carbon copy of the Tour de France’s white jersey competition for the best young rider. It’s awarded to the rider under 26 with the lowest aggregate time on general classification.