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How does the Giro compare with other endurance events?
Sean Kelly: There is no event that can compare to a three-week Grand Tour in terms of endurance. If you look back at the Giro d’Italia over the last couple of years, it’s been very difficult. The weather also plays a big part in the race. You have to go a long way to find an event that would compare to a Grand Tour. From a spectator’s point of view, it’s fascinating as it’s not as predictable as the Tour de France, where you can normally see what’s going to happen.
Rob Hatch: We’ve been spoilt over the last couple of years with the Giro, even the 2014 race where Nairo Quintana won the pink jersey, that was a brilliant race. As Sean says, it’s a unique event, the route always visits these winding, narrow roads that the Tour de France could never visit because it’s too big.
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Can Geraint Thomas win it?
SK: I think Geraint Thomas stands a great chance of doing something big at the Giro. A podium place is definitely possible - he’s been preparing for this leadership role over the last couple of years. He used to be a rider you’d only consider for the Classics, but he’s gone away and taken the risk of becoming a leader of a stage race. I feel he has to put in a performance, and I think he will. I’d be majorly disappointed if he wasn’t in the top five.
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What do you make of this year’s route?
RH: The DNA of the Giro d’Italia is those steep climbs; the Dolomites, the Alps, we’ve got mountains throughout the race. We’re going up Etna in Sicily this year which will be incredible. The route is taking us to as many provinces as is physically possible. There’s a few nods to the reunification of Italy in the big towns and cities of the country. The 100th edition is a special route.
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What does it take to win a Grand Tour?
SK: The preparation for a Grand Tour is very difficult to get right. You have to be close to your top shape in the build-up to the race, because you cannot be in your top form two, three weeks before the race, you’re not going to be able to hold that. It’s a case of peaking at the right time. If you can get that right, you’ll get through the race pretty comfortably, but if you don’t, you’re going to do a lot of suffering over the three weeks. We often lose riders throughout Grand Tours because they haven’t timed their preparation right.
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What makes the mentality of professional cyclists unique?
SK: We see Cyclists go down hard, and immediately get back up and continue. We see riders getting sick, which majorly damages their chances of winning the race, but they still struggle on until they're through the worst of the illness. Professional bike riders are tough guys; with a three-week race, there isn’t going to be a day where you don’t feel like 100%, and this is where you see how mentally strong they are.
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Follow the Giro d'Italia live on Eurosport and the Eurosport Player as Jonathan Edwards takes up presenting duties before and after live coverage each day.
With Rob Hatch and Sean Kelly on commentary, Brian Smith offering coaching insights, and Laura Meseguer, Juan Antonio Flecha and Ashley House on the ground interviewing riders, Eurosport's Grand Tour coverage should be bigger and better than ever.
Read the original article on Eurosport: Q&A with Sean Kelly and Rob Hatch: Geraint Thomas can go big