Grand Tours like the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana can be difficult to watch, not because of the racing but because there's so much to keep track of.
All three have several competitions running at once: the general classification, mountains classification, points classification and team classification, with the Vuelta also having the combination jersey and the Tour having the best young rider's jersey.
As well as keeping track of these competitions there's how they're actually contested, is it time? Points? What about bonus seconds? Bonus points? Time and point penalties? It can be brain-frazzling just trying to keep on top of all these. So we have come up with several tips to make watching the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia super easy.
1. Pick a Competition
Most people choose the GC (general classification) as the one to watch as this is the main prize. The leader will be easy to spot as they will have a pink (Giro) yellow (Tour) or red (Vuelta) jersey on and quite often have the matching accessories. This is the competition that many pundits and highlights shows will focus on making it the easiest one to follow.
Focusing on on race allows you to appreciate the rest without getting bogged down in stats. If you choose the mountains competition you can focus on the climbers and their standings and be more involved.
2. Look for Battlegrounds
Even for the connoisseur, watching a stage race of a grand tour can be laborious. For a large part of the day nothing much happens for a breakaway going and the peloton slowly chasing them.
Study the stage profile and find the likely action points of the stage - these are usually the finish, the climbs and the sprints, and focus your viewing on those. This is also helpful if you've recorded the entire stage and plan to watch later, unless you're super into all the mundanities of stage racing.
3. Pick a Rider
Cycling's a strange sport in that there aren't often supporters of whole teams, in it's very nature it's a sport where a team of individuals race for their leader and share in their glory and failures. Picking a rider is a good way of following a race like the Giro as it allows you to follow their progress in competitions or the parts they play in helping their team.
This only really works if the rider you choose is a big name though, like Chris Froome, Alberto Contador or Alejandro Valverde as you don't want to be following a domestique who won't be getting any airtime.
4. Don't Pick Anything!
Just watch the race for the sheer joy of watching bike racing. Don't worry about times, classifications, riders, sprint points. Just enjoy the chaos of not really understanding much of what is happening or why it's happening.
It's quite liberating to free yourself of following anything about a race and just enjoying the spectacle of a grand tour.
5. Live for the Day
Whilst the classifications are there for the entire tour - all 21 days - every stage will involve it's own mini race in order to win the stage. This could be a mountaintop finish which will light up the GC or a flat stage with a bunch sprint for the sprinters to contest.
Watching each stage for it's merits without the concern of a longer competition is a good way to stay sane throughout the madness of the stage race and it will allow you to appreciate the efforts of the breakaway so much more.