Giro d'Italia 2024: Pogacar goes for the double. GETTY IMAGES

The Slovenian rider is set to attempt something even more ambitious: a double in the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same year. Only seven riders have ever achieved this. 3,321 kilometres, 21 stages, 60 kilometres of time trials, and a favourite looking to make history again. It's been 25 years since a rider won both Grand Tours in the same year - Pantani did it in 1999.

The Giro d'Italia 2024 will start on 4 May. It may have lost some of the toughness of the 2024 edition, but it is likely to have gained in balance and better stage placings based on cycling cycles. There will be a succession of days that are very demanding in combination with others where there will be respite and opportunities for every type of cyclist. The race is open. The race is becoming more dynamic, although it will be the riders who are right or wrong.

Eyes will first turn to the time trial kilometres. They are decisive in modern cycling. In this edition, there are 60 kilometres. They are spread over two days. Perhaps the essence of the Giro d'Italia lies in the combination of a day against the clock and another day of climbing, a challenge that Tadej Pogacar has set himself. In the time trial you will have to deal with huge gears, and the next day it will be the other way round. 

The legs will be subjected to a punishing change that will reveal who is the strongest. After the time trial in Perugia, which will take around 45 minutes to complete, there will be a stage with a 3,000 metre climb. You've got to be prepared for that. Then, after the flat time trial in Desenzano del Garda, there's the Giro's stage with Livigno and its 5,200 metres of altitude.

The UAE Team is the squad to beat. GETTY IMAGES
The UAE Team is the squad to beat. GETTY IMAGES

This stage will also take place on the penultimate weekend, 18 and 19 May. This duo will be decisive. The cyclist who can excel in two disciplines that are so close to the limit will almost certainly emerge victorious.

The 2024 Giro d'Italia will be won by a complete cyclist, not a climber or a time trialist. There is every indication that there will be opportunities for everyone. With individual time trial stages for riders such as Philippo Ganna, stages for the fast men in the famous 'volattas', no less than 8 or 9 stages suitable for the sprint and, of course, mountains and more mountains. 

Of course, it is not enough to talk about the routes without mentioning the presence of Tadej Pogacar. It seems that the Slovenian's arrival is not the most important thing. Perhaps the real attraction is to see who can challenge him. Pogacar has staked his season on the double - the Giro and the Tour: Giro and Tour

Reducing his previous days of competition, he has focused the season on these two races. But the ones he has had have been of high quality. And with the challenge of winning. He won the Volta a Catalunya and four stages of the Tour, as well as Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Strade Bianche. He 'failed', if you can say he failed, in Milan-San Remo, where he finished third.

This year, he skipped the cobbled classics. He has already won the Tour of Flanders in 2023. He has 70 races under his belt at the age of 25. Riders who could be in contention for the pink jersey are veterans Geraint 

Thomas and Daniel Felipe Martínez. The powerful Ineos team will be looking to challenge the dominance of the UAE Team squad. They will have a strong team to support their leader at the start. Bora will support their new tenant, Daniel Felipe Martínez, who will be wearing new colours. Another alternative could be Ben O'Connor. The Ag2R rider finished fourth in the 2023 Tour de France. He has opted for the Giro.

"Ineos and Geraint Thomas, Pogacar's main rivals. GETTY IMAGES

Geraint Thomas is 37 years old. He won the Tour de France in 2018 and lost the Giro d'Italia to Primoz Roglic in the final time trial in 2023. He could be the strongest option in terms of experience and race vision. The hope is that Pogacar will falter. In fact, the only thing that could give his rivals a chance is a mistake, a bad day for 'Pogi'.

Only seven riders in history have managed to win both the Giro and the Tour in the same year: Eddy Merckx, Stephen Roche, Bernard Hinault, Indurain and Pantani. Pogacar wants to show the world that he can do it, and this Saturday his challenge begins.

The route of this Giro d'Italia, which starts on Saturday 4 May, has changed. Some of its essence has changed. There won't be any stages that never end. Only four stages will be longer than 200 kilometres. They have also decided to reduce the number of days in the mountains. Only the 15th stage is considered high mountain. It exceeds the symbolic 200 kilometres. 

What makes the route innovative are the 60 kilometres of time trials. Modern cycling has done away with the individual time trial kilometres that used to be the norm. There will be 60 kilometres. That is much more than in other editions. There will be a summit finish in the second stage, at the mythical Sanctuary of Oropa, where Miguel Indurain suffered greatly in his time. It will be a tribute to Marco Pantani, who won there in 1999.

The Giro is set to start strongly with the first summit finish on the second stage. This is the Sanctuary of Oropa, a challenging climb. The race will pay tribute to Marco Pantani, who won on its summit in 1999.

It will be the 15th stage, in the last week, considered the queen stage and the one that really brings back what the Giro d'Italia has always been. More than 200 kilometres and a difference in altitude of more than 5,000 metres. A real queen stage. It ends in Livigno and will be decided after an individual time trial.

The last week of the race will be the most demanding. Mythical climbs such as Monte Grappa are on the agenda, which will be climbed twice, with an impressive 18 kilometres and a gradient of over 8%.

The Giro will end at the Colosseum in Rome. It will be a great spectacle with the crowning of the first winner of one of the three great champions of cycling. All against Pogacar.

The Giro d'Italia kicks off with the excitement and aggressive cycling that is the essence of the pink race. With a catalogue of stage hunters and sprinters, including two-time world champion Julian Alaphilippe and grand tour stage winners Filippo Ganna, Caleb Ewan, Fabio Jakobsen, Tim Merlier and Alberto Dainese.

A total of 22 teams of eight riders will take part in the Corsa Rosa, which will start in Turin on Saturday 4 May and finish on Sunday 26 May with a unique route around the 'Eternal City' of Rome, including one of the world's most famous monuments, the Colosseum.