2012 Giro d'Italia Teams
* AG2R La Mondiale (FRA): John Gadret looks to make the podium and win a stage
* Astana Pro Team (KAZ): Roman Kreuziger wants to make a big GC impact at Giro
* BMC Racing Team (USA): Stage wins on the cards for BMC for Hushovd and Taylor Phinney makes Grand Tour debut
* Euskaltel–Euskadi (ESP): Another big Giro with stage wins the goal for Basque outfit led by Mikel Nieve
* FDJ–Big Mat (FRA): Stage wins and GC from Sandy Casar FDJ's goal
* Garmin–Barracuda (USA): Sprinter Farrar for stage wins and GC hopes for Hesjedal and Stetina
* Orica-Greenedge (AUS): Matty Goss looking good for stage wins; watch for young Jack Bobridge to shine.
* Katusha Team (Rus): Russian champ Brutt for stage wins, Alex Kristoff for sprints, Purito Rodriguez for mountains & GC
* Lampre–ISD (ITA): All in for Michele Scarponi on GC, Cunego and Diego Ulissi for stage wins, with Petacchi left home.
* Liquigas–Cannondale (ITA): Basso goes full gas for another Giro win, Viviani for sprints
Belisol Team (BEL): Young Lotto squad looking for another good Giro
from Bart DeClercq with Gianni Meersman for stage wins.
* Movistar Team (ESP): Italian champ Visconti looking for stages, Ventoso for sprints for Spanish squad
* Omega Pharma–Quickstep (BEL): Chicchi strong for sprints, stage hunting for Pauwels, Bandiera & Cataldo.
* Rabobank Cycling Team (NED): Mark Renshaw and Theo Bos look for sprint wins.
* Radioshack–Nissan-Trek (LUX): Fränk Schleck gets a shot at Grand Tour leadership at Giro and could be a dark horse force.
Procycling (GBR): It's all about Cav as World Champ looks for stage
wins, with Colombian climbing sensation Henao making his Grand Tour
* Team Saxo Bank (DEN: With Contador out, Saxo’s Giro hopes lie with Haedo Bros. for the sprints and Italian TT rider Boaro.
* Vacansoleil–DCM Pro Cycling Team (NED): Matteo Carrera leads for GC and Thomas DeGendt for stage wins, Swedish TT man Larsen.
Giocattoli (ITA): It’s all about South American climbers Rujano &
Serpa and Italian Lele Selle looking for mountain stage wins, with young
talent Fabio Felline after stage wins.
* Colnago–CSF Inox (IRL):
Sprinter Sascha Modolo and climber Domenico Pozzoviv head this
opportunistic Italian outfit; watch for Italian sensation Enrico
Battaglin in his Giro debut.
* Farnese Vini-Selle Italia (GBR):
After a strong spring campaign, Filippo Pozzato and Oscar Garro look for
stage wins while sprinter Andrea "Flash" Guardini makes his Giro debut.
* Team NetApp (Ger): Small German squad hope Czech rider Jan Barta has strong performances.
2012 Giro d'Italia: May 5-27
Saturday May 5: Stage 1: Herning-Herning ITT / 8.7km
Sunday May 6: Stage 2: Herning-Herning / 206km
Monday May 7: Stage 3: Horsens-Horsens / 190km
Tuesday May 8: Rest Day
Wednesday May 9: Stage 4: Verona-Verona TTT / 32.2km
Thursday May 10: Stage 5: Modena-Fano / 199km
Friday May 11: Stage 6: Urbino-Porto Sant'Elpidio / 207km
Saturday May 12: Stage 7: Recanati-Rocca di Cambio / 202km
Sunday May 13: Stage 8: Sulmona-Lago Laceno / 229km
Monday May 14: Stage 9: San Giorgio nel Sannio-Frosinone / 171km
Tuesday May 15: Stage 10: Civitavecchia-Assisi / 187km
Wednesday May 16: Stage 11: Assisi-Montecatini Terme / 243km
Thursday May 17: Stage 12: Seravezza-Sestri Levante / 157km
Friday May 18: Stage 13: Savona - Cervere / 121km
Saturday May 19: Stage 14: Cherasco-Cervinia / 205km
Sunday May 20: Stage 15: Busto Arsizio-Lecco Pian dei Resinelli / 172km
Monday May 21: Rest Day
Tuesday May 22: Stage 16: Limone sul Garda-Falzes / 174km
Wednesday May 23: Stage 17: Falzes-Cortina d'Ampezzo / 187km
Thursday Thursday May 24: Stage 18: San Vito di Cadore-Vedelago / 139km
Friday May 25: Stage 19: Treviso-Alpe di Pampeago / 197km
Saturday May 26: Stage 20: Caldes / Val di Sole-Passo dello Stelvio / 218km
Sunday May 27: Stage 21: Milan-Milan ITT / 31.5km
BUT HERE ARE THE FIVE KEY STAGES
Stage 8: May 13, Sulmona-Lago Lacena 229 km
The second longest stage of the race is also the first real opportunity to shake up the field. Although not the high mountains this is a long day of rolling hills, capped by the category two climb Colle Molella. It features 9.9km with an average gradient of 5.7% but the second half is much tougher than the first with a gradient of 12% in places. While not tough enough to be decisive in the overall standings, this will give riders a chance to score a psychological blow on their rivals, while showing viewers who has the legs and who hasn't.
Stage 14: May 19, Cherasco-Cervinia 206 km
The first serious high mountain stage should produce fireworks at the finish. That's because the majority of the stage is flat until the final 70km which include two brutal climbs. Anyone having a bad day on those two long climbs can expect to lose serious time. The 22km (5.6%) Col de Joux is followed by the equally steep 27km drag up to the summit at Cervinia. This stage is more like one from the Tour de France than the more typical short, sharp and punishing Giro peaks.
Stage 17: May 23, Falzes-Cortina d'Ampezzo 186 km
The first foray into the Dolomites presents four leg-breaking passes that should shed all but the real cream of the crop. It's is the first of three mountain stages over four days. The Passo Valparola, a 14.1km climb at 5.5% comes before the halfway point and should encourage a breakaway. But it's in the final 70km that the GC contenders will start to turn on the turbos. The Passo Duran (12.2km at 8.1%) is followed quickly by the Forcella Staulanza (12.3km at 6.9%). But anyone hoping for a rest will be disappointed as the Passo Giau is up next, starting with parts that reach a gradient of 14%. To make things even more interesting, the stage finishes with a tricky 17km descent to the line which could allow a good bike handler to recuperate time lost on the climb or even escape to victory.
Stage 20: May 26, Caldes/Val di Sole-Passo dello Stelvio 219 km
The penultimate stage is the final and perhaps toughest mountain test of the Giro and will end in a spectacular crescendo. The final Passo dello Stelvio will become the highest ever summit finish at a Grand Tour at 2,757m and, of course, the Cima Coppi for this year's race, denoting the highest point of the tour. But make no mistake, the riders will already have legs screaming for mercy having gone over the Tonale, Aprica, Teglio and Mortirolo before they tackle the final ascent. With 22.4km and 12% slopes, this could be make or break for the contenders hoping to reach Milan still with a chance of victory.
Stage 21: May 27, Milan time trial 30 km
With a posse of tough mountain stages right before the final stage it is possible the Giro could already be decided. But with a 30 km time trial to come there is every possibility that someone who is good against the clock could make up anything from one to two minutes in Milan. The centenary Giro in 2009 ended in Rome with a dramatic time trial. Denis Menchov came into it with a 20-second lead over Danilo De Luca and managed to hold onto the pink jersey despite crashing on the course.