One day after cycling's grandi fromaggi are putting a cross in the box marked Cookson or McQuaid, the best riders in the world will do battle over the rolling Tuscan hills in a bid to secure the rainbow jersey.
Your faithful cycling scribe is getting very close to the action as he rides down the backbone of Italy en route to Rome. This week started in the vineyards of Piedmont and this Friday evening, on the eve of the road races, our group reaches the Tuscan capital.
Riding alongside Saddles are six riders affiliated to the Sydney bike shop and club Velosophy, including its manager and head of operations. After a week riding in the Alps, the sextet are on their way to Florence where they will take in Sunday's road race ahead of returning home Down Under.
Quizzed about their tips for the victory over the testing 272km circuit, 50% of the Velosophy boys opted for Philippe Gilbert. With the Belgian recently notching his first win of the season in the Vuelta a Espana, they obviously believe the reigning champion has enough in the tank to keep the rainbows around his chest for another year.
Other tips for victory are Spanish pair Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde, and - unsurprisingly (given the nationality of those canvassed) - Cadel Evans.
In fact, the patriotism of the Velosophy boys is clear, with two of them naming fellow countryman Evans as a wildcard for the win. While he gains no outright votes, Slovakian sensation Peter Sagan gets three joker nods from the group, while the remaining outsider berth goes to Tour de France champion Chris Froome.
Britain's Froome seems a tantalising, if unlikely, bet. The 28-year-old is a superb climber, but the succession of climbs over the Fiesole is not exactly suited to his strengths. It will be hard for Froome to break and stay out alone - while it's hard seeing the wafer thin Briton winning a mini sprint should it come to that. So he'll have to wait that little bit longer for a knighthood...
One thing seems certain - the course favours climbing ability over sprinting prowess. But whoever wins will have to have a kick in him, for the finish comes over flat terrain. It's likely that the course will suit experience over youth - although such a notion can be thrown out of the window when it comes to Sagan. Unlike other riders of his generation, such rules are just not applicable - although Sagan may struggle with a lack of team support.
Spain's galacticos will fancy their chances - although it remains to be seen how shot Valverde and Rodriguez are after doubling up the Tour with the Vuelta, which only finished less than a fortnight ago. Alberto Contador returns to the fold - although he looked thoroughly threadbare by the end of the Tour and his strengths are not in stage races such as this.
Just to remind those not in the know, the 272km course commences with a point-to-point section of 106km over flat roads (with the exception of the San Baronto climb) ahead of 10 laps of a winding and undulating circuit before a flat finish.
Each circuit includes the Fiesole climb, which featured in stage 9 of Giro d'Italia this year. Russian Maxim Belkov won that day from a break, but second-place Carlos Betancur of Colombia believed he was the winner after attacking the pack on the final rise before the finish.
Betancur would be a tasty outside option for the win on Saturday, but the Colombian struggled during the Vuelta - as did compatriots Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao. Nairo Quintana stretched his legs during the Tour of Britain and would be a popular choice to top the podium in Tuscany.
On the day Belkov won, Evans led the peloton over the line to take a few seconds from his rivals in the Giro. The Australian veteran is not such a bad bet as an outsider - and he certainly knows how to win such a race after his victory over a similarly rolling route back in 2010.
This season's tally suggests Evans' season is seriously on the wane - although the 36-year-old had proved his doubters in the past. In fact, the year Evans won the world championships came after a largely disapponting season - so perhaps our friends at Velosophy will have something to celebrate before boarding their Qantas flights home.
None of the six riders opted for Vincenzo Nibali, one of the big home favourites, or the man who beat him in the Vuelta, Chris Horner. The latter's omission is no surprise given the deep cynicism the Velosophy boys hold regarding the American veteran's recent maiden Grand Tour win at the sprightly age of 41.
No-one went for Fabian Cancellara either - perhaps expecting the succession of peaks to have seen off the challenge from the Swiss time trial bronze medallist by the time the race hits the business end of proceedings.
Rui Costa of Portugal could be an interesting bet following his superb showing in the Tour, while what of Irish pair Nico Roche and Dan Martin? Roche recently posted his highest ever Grand Tour finish, plus took his maiden major stage victory in Spain, while Martin showed his class in winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege this spring, before adding a Tour stage scalp in July.
Who does Saddles think will win? The Fiesole is not tough in isolation - but ridden 10 times will take its toll on many of the more climbing-oriented sprinters - Gilbert included. But Sagan's star is shining bright and it will be quite typical of his impetuosity should he take the rainbow jersey after missing out on so many of the monuments earlier in the season.
And if the Velosophy six can be nationalistic in opting for Evans as their wildcard, then why can't Saddles? But he's not going for Froome, the obvious choice, nor Mark Cavendish, the man who would win should it come down to a bunch sprint. Rather, Welsh wonder Geraint Thomas.
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